By Carl B. Nisbett
The headlined question “‘Burn’ the Churches?” is incendiary and provoking language that requires a great deal of thought to consider what the question really means. It may even require some spiritual assistance from a higher source. So, when Kuba Assegai used those and other incendiary and violent language against churches and preachers, one must consider the deeper meaning of it.
He does not believe in God as many of us know God. Nor does he believe in Christ. He believes that preachers are nothing but liars, “snake oil salesmen.” He considers the churches “symbol of evil and oppression” and “satanic pulpits for ‘sake oil’ sale men to fan their delusions and confusions among the people.”
In fact, Assegai has argued that spirituality comes from the pineal gland. The pineal gland is an appendage to the brain. Some reptiles use it for sensing, using it as an eye. Spirituality flows through that pineal gland, according to Assegai.
However, this is not about Kuba’s belief about the pineal gland. Nor is it so much about his not believing in God or in Christ – his “disbelief”, as he calls it. It is his decision to believe or to not believe. We may disagree with him, and many of us do, but that is his right to be a non-believer and for God to render judgment accordingly.
Yet, the question raises other matters. We must be mindful of the message his words, his rhetoric, send to young people. We must keep in mind the context in which we find ourselves with crime being committed by young people and that some may be on the verge of embarking on a life of crime. Some are still impressionable.
A number of St. Kitts and Nevis nationals belong to an internet group. I have copied what Assegai has said in his emails sent to that group to present them here. In one email sent to that group on 8/21/2004 and under the subject heading, “STAY HOME AND MAKE LOVE, ON SUNDAY…DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!” Assegai wrote: “Now that the Afrikan community is hemmed in on one side by the Jews/ADL cabal, and on the other by the Churches with the Fictitious Jew, Jesus as their savior, things may seem grim. This is why we must ‘burn’ the Churches, Synagogues, and all lying institutions. BURN JESUS!!”
A few of us challenged Assegai concerning those remarks, the violence in that message and the message it sends to the young people. He then said he meant a “mental” burning. Yet still, he came back with “the preacher, according to our illustrious Elder Dr. Ben, ‘is a liar and a pimp who is robbing our people money.’ Sister this is why I called for the churches to be ‘burnt’ as a symbol of evil and oppression.”
If Assegai, an adult, is so easily swayed by another person, is it not possible for him to sway to that point of view impressionable children and young people who may be on the edge?
On August 23, 2004, Assegai headlined, “BURN ALL CHURCHES, SYNAGOGUES AND OTHER LYING INSTITUTIONS.” The text of the body of his email had nothing to do with churches but with his disagreeing with some things Louis Farrakahn may have done or not done. One then has to question why the need to mention churches or synagogues.
In another email dated August 21, 2004, under the heading, “FALSE GOD, FALSE HOPE EQUALS FASCISM.!! BURN JESUS!!”, Assegai wrote, “The growth of religious belief and Fundamentalism in the Afrikan community is no difference to fascism. It is the banality of Evil disguised as ‘salvation’. Sister don’t let this false Gods delude you into self denial.” Again, I have copied exactly what he has said.
He repeated on the same date, “Now that the Afrikan community is hemmed in on one side by the Jews/ADL cabal, and on the other by the Churches with the Fictitious Jew, Jesus as their savior, things may seem grim. This is why we must ‘burn’ the Churches, Synagogues, and all lying institutions.”
Yes, he explained his reasons for his conclusions, which some of us consider hollow at best. However, it was far from necessary for Assegai to use such incendiary language to get his point across that he does not believe in what the church is doing or that he does not believe in Christ.
Are we to believe that young people who are committing crime have too much God in them? Isn’t it more likely that part of the problem is they may not have much of or any belief in God? They certainly have no respect for God or themselves or for others. So what message is the language “burn the churches” sending to them? Any way you look at it, it’s a message of violence.
We must also consider how he will work with men and women of the police/security forces who are Christians; how, if at all, will he work with preachers, pastors, teachers, children and parents who believe in God, all of whom are necessary partners in solving crime and deterring young men and women from crime. Can he be a partner in good faith with these people when he holds such disdain for their beliefs? Will he seek to undercut, undermine, these people whom he thinks are wasting their time?
Whatever the problems some churches or preachers have, those problems hardly require a call to “burn” the churches, be it a “mental” or actual physical burning. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others in the Civil and Human Rights Movements came up through the churches. It was their faith in God that strengthened them to stand and fight the battles on behalf of humanity. It was their faith in God, in Christ, that gave them the strength to stand and face the racists with their billy clubs, fire hoses, dogs, guns, stones and words of hatred. It was that faith that caused many to take their stand against the Klu Klux Klan, the United States home grown terrorists. It was the Klu Klux Klan who burnt and bombed churches where black people worshiped.
Many preachers throughout history have stood on the side of justice and preached against injustice. The faith of many, including Harriet Tubman’s faith, was their strong tower and they put their lives at risk to fight against slavery and other inhuman conditions. By Assegai’s words, we should “burn” them too.