There are about a million reasons why. Perhaps people are considering the ways religion has been used to oppress people church membership across the entire nation has declined significantly. It might have something to do with people leaning into spirituality over religiosity. And being in church all my life, until today, I recognize that there is quite a bit of foolishness that transpires within the four walls of the church.
There are some who would argue that we shouldn’t speak ill of the church, that we should seek to highlight the positive. While there is certainly more room to speak about all the good that has come to and through church. But if you love something or someone, you want them to do and be better. And that only comes through critique. With that in mind, we’ll be sharing some stories from church that will make you realize that the church has some work to do if they want to remain a viable entity in the coming decades.
This first story of folly comes from a storefront church in a borough in New York City. This is not the church I currently attend but circumstances found me in this particular church one day. I consider myself in touch and in tune with my spirit and from the minute the pastor started speaking in this place, I knew it wasn’t where I needed to be. In fact, I had a physical reaction to being in the space. I was shaking with anxiety because I knew so much of what was happening, what was being said had very little to do with Jesus, his daddy or his homie the Holy Spirit. So I vowed never to set foot in there again.
Luckily for me, it’s one I’ve been able to uphold. And after I learned of a subsequent issue from that church, I knew I’d made the right decision. Months after I’d attended and advised my friend to leave as well, he sent me a troubling voicemail. In it, the head pastor of the church, stood behind the pulpit and cursed the landlord and his family.
My friend recorded it: “Hear what I will proclaim here today. Let me give you the prophetic right now. This building—because of what he did to the church, any business that come in here will never prosper. I know y’all don’t like when I get in the prophetic but I will proclaim it as a prophet of God. I release it that nothing will prosper here. It don’t matter what they put. I release it and it shall be so. Watch and see. That hair salon that will come here? Six months. That liquor shop that they got planned for? Five weeks. Watch God. It will not stand. They will always have to have a sign up there and he will never get anyone to stay permanently. It will never happen. I curse this building. I curse it in the name of Jesus. Y’all don’t like it but that’s alright. I curse it today.
Then, the pastor took it a step further.
And I curse his loins!
Someone in the congregation shouted, “Oh! That’s what I’m talking about.” The encouragement worked.
The pastor continued, getting louder. “You mess with God and God gon’ mess with you! I saw today his firstborn will die! I curse this building by the blood of the lamb. Too long. Six years of hardship. You pay the rent and they still bother you. Six years of trouble and because of that, I release one of the greatest curse in this neighborhood.”
The crowd claps and there are sporadic amens.
“I say it in Jesus mighty name.” As the pastor takes her seat, someone laughs at the landlord’s pending misfortune.
Then the next person stepping up with the pulpit quotes scripture to support the pastor’s claims, “Touch not God’s anointed. He didn’t understand, he’s going to understand now.”
I don’t even have the time to break down the levels of wrong here. Do New York landlords have a tendency to be greedy, predatory and difficult? Yes. But squabbling over money before you ultimately decide to leave a space anyway, doesn’t warrant the death of this man’s firstborn child.
For those of you a little rusty on your biblical stories, this curse on the landlord’s firstborn is a reference to Moses and Pharaoh. When Moses was trying to convince the Pharaoh to let his people leave bondage, God sent seven (or 10 depending on how you count) plagues to the land of Egypt. Water turned to blood. The kingdom was overrun with frogs, lice, and flies, livestock died, the people developed boils, there was hail, locusts, darkness and lastly the firstborn children in every family died—unless their house was covered by the blood of the lamb. Even if the landlord was a true asshole, I doubt he did anything as heinous as keeping an entire population of people in slavery.
But the gag is, God sent those plagues. And He did it to prove that He was God Not Moses. I think we all know that God is the only one who can give and take life. And a woman or man of God shouldn’t attempt to play God by cursing someone’s child over a piece of real estate.