We have seen some of the reasons for the popularity of Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam. But there is more than this. Two key areas need to be examined in greater detail: the plight of the black man in America and the failures of the Christian church.

The Plight of Blacks in America

Most white Americans have never experienced the depths of despair and hopelessness that black men, women, and children in this country have endured. They have never been forced to live in ghettos or near-ghetto conditions surrounded by poverty and the violence and crime poverty breeds. Forty-five percent of black children are born into poverty (as compared to only 15 percent of white children being born into poverty).42

Recent government statistics show that the economic/social plight of blacks in this country is not improving. Some of the more discouraging statistics show:

  • Median black family income in 1985 was about $1,000 less in dollars adjusted for inflation than in 1978.
  • In 1985, the typical black family had about 58 cents to spend for every dollar a typical white family had to spend. That was the same as in 1980, and four cents less than in 1970.
  • More than 31 percent of all black people were officially poor in 1985. Among black families headed by single women, 52% were poor in 1985.
  • Among black males 15 to 24 years old, homicide is the leading cause of death. A black man in America stands a 1-in-21 chance of being murdered in his lifetime.
  • A black person was 37 percent more likely than a white person to be a victim of rape, robbery or assault in 1983.43

One thing is clear: there are million of American black people who are suffering. Louis Lomax noted that members of the Nation of Islam aggressively proselytized "the abandoned black masses who live in a world of despair and futility."44 For too long this world has been one for which Christians in America have had little concern.

Failures of the Christian Church

For the most part the Christian church has not had the care and concern for the black man that it should have had.45 All too often it has shown little interest for his salvation or for helping his economic/social plight.

One of the greatest indictments against cultural Christianity is the racism that so-called Christians have shown, past and present. Members of the Nation of Islam have continuously capitalized on this.

During the heyday of the civil rights movement the ministers in the Nation of Islam temples would point out that the most segregated institution in this country was the Christian church. They would use clippings from newspapers showing blacks being turned away from white churches or of white Christian ministers openly advocating segregation.

During the Birmingham demonstrations one prominently displayed photo was of a group of blacks, after being ejected from a white church, praying on the church steps with whites standing a few feet away threatening them with their fists balled up. More recently, a front page headline in the -Amsterdam News declared, "Pastor won't admit Blacks."46

One of Malcolm X's best tactics in recruiting members to the Nation of Islam was to describe graphically the horrors of the slave trade: how literally millions of blacks died on the trip over here, how the black women were raped and killed by the white "Christian" slave traders, etc. Labeling it the "so-called Christian white man's crime," Malcolm stated that "the dramatization of slavery never failed intensely to arouse Negroes hearing its horrors spelled out for the first time."47

Tragically, many blacks view all Christians as racists. What changed Malcolm X's hatred of whites was the acceptance and brotherhood he saw among Muslims in Mecca. He wrote: "I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color."48

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