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Q & A with Bishop McKinney

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The New Slavemasters

By Bishop George D. McKinney
Cook Communications Ministries -- In The New Slavemasters, Bishop McKinney—the great-grandson of a slave whose position as an influential African-American church leader, businessman, and civic activist earned him a prestigious nomination for U.S. Senate Chaplain by evangelist Billy Graham in 2003—asks the question: “Are we really free at last?” In his 224-page response, the “new slavemasters” becomes a powerful metaphor for the contemporary African-American struggle, as well as seemingly insurmountable cycles of destructive behavior that have enslaved people of all walks. Let Bishop McKinney light the pathway to freedom for you and your loved ones who are ensnared by the new slavemasters!

“Nearly two centuries ago, Satan used mankind’s deeply rooted sin and resulting inhumanity to enslave a race of God’s creation—African-Americans. Through those dark centuries of numbered tags and iron shackles, Satan worked to keep African-Americans in cruel bondage. Babies were torn from their mothers’ arms; husbands from the strong, supportive embrace of their wives; brothers and sisters from their siblings’ trust. It was an enslavement that shattered all hopes and dreams and destroyed a normally staunch and resilient spirit, while it shattered God’s natural defense to slavery’s horrific affects—the family. But in spite of the terror that stalked those dark days, God was faithful to sustain African-Americans by ministering to their deep painful hurts. ...”

“In this new day, when African-Americans unquestionably enjoy complete freedom, there are new, insidious Slavemasters at work outside civilized law and labor to ensnare black families—and for that matter, families of all races. These new slavemasters are even more threatening than their whip-wielding predecessors. While the latter were content with enslaving the physical being, these new slavemasters are satisfied with the imprisonment of the mind and spirit as well.

“As you turn these pages, I challenge you to look deeply into the works of these New Slavemasters, and in so doing, to inoculate yourself and those you love against their bitter influences. If those near you are already ensnared, this book will help you to understand the world in which they find themselves and to assist them physically, emotionally, and spiritually to break their bonds, so that all of us may proclaim and rejoice that we are truly ‘free at last!’”

Dangerous People (Chapter 2)
“We as a people were inventive, creative, and imaginative, and that we were practical, sensitive, and expressive ... we were exactly the people kind of people God could use—and obviously did use early on—to enhance and further civilization within His earthly kingdom ... Those same attributes made us exceedingly dangerous to God’s enemies, particularly Satan. He knew that in our hands the Gospel would be powerful weapon against him. And so he realized upon an opportunity to make us weak, too isolated, to be the danger to him that we could have been.”

War on Families (Chapter 4)
“Although we think in terms of Satan corrupting individuals, his sights are always on the family as a whole. He loves to shatter the whole into a member of isolated, warring parts, as he did through the old slavemasters.”

“Slavery, by its very nature, was horrifically cruel, but breaking up families—husbands from wives, mothers from children, brothers and sisters from their siblings—was devastatingly so. It tore what was left of their slave hearts right out of them ... It would be nice to say families are safe from that kind of abuse today. But they are not. Today, as you read these words, the New Slavemasters still rip families apart, still grind their hearts and futures beneath cold, thick souls.

“The slavemasters—old and new—want all of us, everything that makes us who we are. Then they want to bend us to their will ... for all those locked in the dungeon of substance abuse. They lost 'who they were' and became who their Slavemasters wanted them to be. That is what Satan wants for you. He wants you to become someone those closest to you no longer know—and no longer want to be around.”

People Become Things (Chapter 5)
“For the old slavemasters, even an institution as sacred and intimate as marriage was merely and arrangement among property. Slaves were merely things. They urged these things to marry, but only in order to produce more things, and then to shackle them and make it more difficult for them to escape. If a slave was sold, the spouse (without benefit of divorce) was urged to marry again. Things can’t be bigamists.

“To the materialistic [New] Slavemaster, people are merely things—things acquired, things cherished, and things sought ....To the materialistic person, marriage is merely an entry point, a gateway to all things that lay behind it; the big house, the luxury car, the expensive jewelry—all that is by which materialists measure their worth. The more stuff they have, the more important they are. And spending money gives them a sense of power, especially if they can exert influence over someone by spending it.”

Racism (Chapter 6)
“Man’s fallen state is raucously proclaimed by his universal tendency to gather into groups, then declare his particular group superior—more intelligent, more righteous, more highly favored by god(s)—than all others. Having a common ethnicity, skin color, religion, social class, economic status, social or political philosophy, when their group gains political, social, or economic power, they attempt to impose their beliefs and practices on the powerless. When they do so, they practice racism.

“Racism in America is systemic. No institution is free from its influence. No family, no community, no social group has escaped the diabolical poison of hatred, indifference, and violence. Nowhere is its influence so vividly demonstrated than in today’s Church. Whether liberal or conservative, this telltale reality remains the same: Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America ...The practice of apartheid in the American Christian church is part of a schizophrenic pattern; there is great concern for doctrinal purity, theological orthodoxy, and liturgical correctness with no corresponding concern for biblical righteousness or social, environmental, and economic justice and human rights here and around the world. The New Slavemaster is alive and thriving.”

“But after four hundred years, the United States has clearly demonstrated that social, economic, and political solutions are not effective in solving what is essentially a spiritual problem. Yet many Christians still adopt an attitude of indifference to racial problems.”

“We are one family; black, white, yellow, red, the blood of our Savior runs through all our veins...Racism is sin because it teaches the lie that grace is racially motivated—instead of looking at the heart, God looks at color—that it’s not our sin, but our skin. Such belief places culture and custom above God’s inspired Word.”

Frederick Douglass’ Slave Family History (Chapter 8)
“Frederick Douglas’ grandmother had served her master faithfully ‘from youth to old age.’ Her work brought her master wealth; her children and their children and their children’s children had worked his plantation. When he died, she was left a slave to watch her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren divided-up like ‘so many sheep,’ without being allowed a word to shape their own destinies. Then, to put the final punctuation on the long death sentence of her life, when she grew unable to perform the duties required of her, they took her to the forest, built her a drafty little shack, then made her live there and support herself with her own twisted arthritic hands.”

War on our Children (Chapter 10)
“Satan is no fool. He knows the easiest way to keep a people enslaved, isolated, and weak is to defeat their children. If he can shatter their hopes, keep their not-so-distant horizons filled with ravaging storms, then he believes they are his forever.”

God’s Committment to Family (Chapter 12)
“We were profoundly poor out there on the farm, but as a very conservative Christian family, our poverty didn’t dampen our Christian fervor. If anything, living on the ragged edge of solvency strengthened it. When you are hanging by your fingernails, you grasp at lifelines, and God is the best lifeline of all. From the beginning, God was placed, and thereafter remained, at the very center of our home. But with fourteen children, keeping Him there required thought and discipline. And the limitation of the temptations that usually stalked us kids. Deeply suspicious eyes studied all forms of entertainment, which was obviously just the devil trying to get us to drop our guard and sweep us into something spiritually disastrous. So we didn’t dance, didn’t play cards, didn’t go to movies, and didn’t read novels.”

Your Legacy: Do The Right Thing (Chapter 13)
“Our future is built on our present. If we want to create strong vibrant tomorrows, we must create strong, vibrant todays. What better way to subdue these new slavemasters that try to demean and destroy you, than to take lives of shame and defeat and turn them into lives for which we want to be remembered ....Our enslaved ancestors had no control over their families. It was the slavemaster’s call where the family ended up, and generally they ended up apart ... If from this moment on, we build our family His way, using the blueprint in the Bible, our family won’t just happen—it will become part of God’s kingdom here on earth and part of His plan to nurture and further it. Our family will be fashioned, supported, and blessed by God and used to His glory.”

Ashes (Chapter 14)
“St. Stephens Church of God in Christ is where I have labored for forty years. In the fall of 1984, on the eve of our twenty-second anniversary—just two weeks after we had dedicated our new school to the Lord’s service—Satan sent a young man enslaved to rage and bitterness to do his worst against us. The night before was unusually hot and humid for September. That discomfort, mixed with my excitement at the next day’s activities, meant I couldn’t sleep. I was still awake at 2 a.m. when the phone rang. Seconds later, I rushed to see angry flames devouring our beloved church. Firefighters worked bravely and feverishly, but St. Stephens could not be saved. And as the dawn broke over gray eastern hills, all our hopes for the future, all the hopes I had planned to raise up to God in that morning’s address to thousands of our faithful, lay before us in smoldering black ash.”

“...God wasn’t telling me to give up. He was telling me to rebuild and recommit, that it wasn’t our efforts that would make St. Stephens a wondrous beacon to the community again, but His. I have come to believe that horrific morning was allowed so we would know that our future, a future much greater than our past, would most assuredly be built on Jesus, by Jesus.”

Husbands Love Your Wives (Chapter 15)
“The Word of God tells husbands to make their wives’ well-being their reason for living. Strong words. But strong words are needed. We, as fallen human beings, first look inward to our own needs; then, when those needs are satisfied, we may look to the needs of others. This is not the model our spouse’s need. For husbands, selfishness is out—selflessness is definitely in.”

The Importance of Two-Parent Families (Chapter 16)
“I stress the idea of having two parents as the head of the freedom family for several reasons. First, as we have seen, two parents are simply better than one. If you are looking to start a family, make sure the family you establish has two parents—a man and a woman. If you are married and either have children already or plan to have them soon, make sure you and your mate do everything you can to stay together. If you are a single parent, like Cyndi, realize that your children need the influence of the opposite gender. ...”

“A friend once confided his father was an alcoholic and seldom around. ‘There were times I did things simply because I was sure real men did them. I risked my life in Vietnam because I thought that’s what real men do. I gave up a career for which I was truly suited in favor of another I found manlier—and I hated it. Not having a good male role model in the home cost me a great deal. ...’”

“Her little face was bruised with the whole print of Mrs. Gatewood’s hand ... His deep, profound helplessness helped him to come face to face with the fact that he, his wife, and his vulnerable little daughter were property, powerless to deal with those who whipped and tortured their infant daughter ... The New Slavemasters want to do the same to your family. They want you to one day look at your children and be helpless to protect them from what they have in mind for them: drugs, pregnancy, abortion, alcohol, anything that locks them into emotional and physical slavery.”

Slave’s Duty to Escape (Chapter 18)
“Slavery is only mentioned in Scripture because it existed in biblical times as well , and slaves, like all Christians, are to work within the world where God has placed them—unless that world becomes threatening. Their duty is to escape. Although mentioned and dealt with, slavery was never a godly practice.

The Jumbled Family (Chapter 21)
“The New Slavemasters of drugs and violence, aided by the deep decay of our nation’s moral fiber, have wreaked havoc on this and many other families. It is as if each member of the family was a piece from very different puzzles and was suddenly thrown onto a table and forced to fit together. Like Bryan and Martha, grandparents and even great-grandparents now find themselves raising MTV-generation teens. Or older children who have planned limitless futures are now anchored in the present as the 'parents' of younger siblings. Everyone battles confusion, anger, and bitterness—while those who fill the parental role do their best to learn new skills, often overnight. And these new 'kids' often bring some pretty weighty baggage along with them. These are our jumbled families. In spite of what may appear these are families God has brought together from confused and broken places so that all can be raised up and nurtured—and that may be glorified.”

The Unmarried Father
“The New Slavemasters are delighted when men see themselves as little more than sperm donors, willing to casually separate themselves from the children they spawn. That is certainly what the old slavemasters wanted. Separating children from their fathers separates them from the strength and guidance fathers provide.

“Even if you were tricked into fatherhood—even if their mother lied about using birth control, for instance—when you engaged in a sexual relationship with her, you signed a contract, if a baby results, you are the father. Admit it to the mother, the children (if appropriate), and to God. ‘These are my children; I am responsible for them. I want to do what’s right, and God, I want your help.’”

Children of Children
“Your child, no matter how committed she is to her child, wants a childhood. She wants fun parties, long talks with acquaintances, connections to best friends. And a smattering of that is healthy for her. But her child is her main responsibility now. One of your jobs is to help her maintain a good balance. To limit the babysitting hours available to her is one way to do that. Make it four hours a week, for instance, and two evenings a month. You decide, but make it reasonable and firm. Another parishioner gave the young parent unlimited babysitting; it just cost her so much an hour.”

What Will Be Our [Church] Legacy? (Chapter 26)
“Frederick Douglass observed: “The man who robs me of my earnings and at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitutions, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me that right of learning to read the name of the God who made me ... I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, woman-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.”

“This book’s purpose is to help you break free from and remain free of the New Slavemasters ... I am a prime example of God’s using one of His children in ways that child never, ever thought possible. How could the son of a poor sharecropper, one of fourteen children, the great-grandson of a slave ever imagine that god would make Him a bishop in a large and prestigious denomination? How could he have ever dreamed of being even a small part of the work within God’s kingdom? ... May God help you to remain free, and may He bless your legacy. May the legacy you envision for yourself now be a mere shadow of the legacy He has in mind for you.”

Taken from The New Slavemasters by Bishop George D. McKinney. Copyright © 2005 by Bishop George D. McKinney. Reprinted with permission of Cook Communications Ministries.

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Q & A with Bishop McKinney

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