The spirit of the black man

On any given Sunday seated on the pews of any black church there will be more women than men.

According to Charyn D. Sutton, author of “Pass It On: Outreach to Minority Communities,” most of the members in America’s black churches are females.

“Males who attend church regularly tend to fall into two major age categories: under 14 years old and over 60,” said Sutton in her article on

“Boys come because their mothers make them attend and older men often establish church membership when their health begins to fail.”

Andrew Miller, a vendor of black books and gospel music to historically black colleges and universities, said the difference is also apparent in overall spirituality, not just church attendance.

Miller said most of his customers are females.

“The brothers ain’t really trying to read,” said Miller, who sells Bibles, books by black authors and gospel and jazz music.

“Black women have always been more spiritual. Brothers today are afraid they will get dissed around some of their friends. The sisters are a little more serious.”

For those black men who regularly attend church, Sutton said they are worked extensively to make up for the lack of black men who don’t.

“Adult men in their 20s, 30s and 40s who are active in black churches…tend to be involved in a variety of other activities in the community and, as a result, are often over-committed,” Sutton said in “Pass It On.”

Lamar Simmons, pastor of Love and Faith Ministries, said he attributes his good upbringing to the men of his church.

“The older men would help the younger men and the older women would help the younger women,” said Simmons, who grew up in a Pentecostal church in Charleston, S.C. “(The upbringing) wasn’t typical, but they helped the young people become responsible.”

Now, with the lack of black men in the church, Simmons said part of the problem has to do with spirituality itself.

“In the last days men have become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,” Simmons said.

Miller agrees.

“A lot of the brothers are interested more so with the hip-hop crowds and girls shaking on the videos,” he said.

Another reason for the dearth of black men in the church could be that more of them are behind bars than ever before.

According to Fox Butterfield’s report in the “New York Times,” the number of black men locked up has grown fivefold over the past 20 years.

In 2000, there were 791,600 black men in jail or prison, compared to 143,000 in 1980, according to a report from the Justice Policy Institute in Washington.

Today there are more black men in jail than there are in college, let alone the church.

“Part of the problem extends from the black community,” Miller said.

“There are a lot of single mothers out there, a lot of sisters who have been hurt in relationships and have gone to God for healing.”

“There’s a lack of men telling their children that God is important,” Simmons said.

“Women have been doing it but they can’t take the place of a man. It leads to a void in the church.”

This void has led to churches filled with mostly women, leaving the young men of the church with hardly anyone to look up to.

Simmons said it’s now an issue that some men question the masculinity of those who become spiritual.

“Masculinity is a problem and it’s a cover-up,” Simmons said.

“When you look at the church it’s usually almost deemed as a place for women. But that’s not God’s plan at all.”

To clear the misconception, Simmons believes the men of the church need to show other men the way to spirituality.

“When it comes to God, every man and woman needs to become weak and submit themselves to God and let God take control,” Simmons said. “A lot of men can’t handle that.”