I can’t claim the honor of asking the most revealing question to the Twelve Tribespeople Saturday at their “forum.”
After some prodding by questioners, myself included, we had just heard that it was the Bible story of the curse on Ham's son, Canaan that justifies the separation of the races and the slavery of black people to white people (see below for the TT's masterful exegesis). This story, according to them, is God’s Word and so blacks questioning the authority of whites--as for instance, Martin Luther King, Jr. did when he supported the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott of 1955/56--goes against His Will.
A young fellow with a goatee and a backpack asked: “Where in the Bible does it say that Ham was a black man?”
“It doesn’t,” a TTer conceded, while what seemed to me a look of embarrassment flickered momentarily across his face.
The Twelve Tribespeople and their ilk dupe themselves with the simplistic notion that everything they believe comes directly from the Divine Source of Scripture, unadulterated by spin or interpretation. And yet Ham being a black man isn’t in there. If the Bible alone is the Word of God, then their belief that Ham = African people with dark skin must have come from a non-Divine source: someone’s interpretation of the story. Whose? And why trust this person and their interpretation? They didn’t say.
A debate over whether the Bible is or is not the Word of God will never be won with them, or with any anyone else. But this one insightful question reveals that believers themselves must concede that every Bible verse requires a human mind to interpret it. TTers can’t look to scripture to understand why they believe black people and Jews and others are cursed. The place to look is inside their own hearts and minds and inside those of their leader, “Yoneq,” Mr. Eugene Spriggs.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the guy with the goatee and the backpack and I didn’t talk with him long enough to learn his full take on the Twelve Tribes, but in conversation with us outside of the forum, he shared with us this wonderful quotation from Christian author Anne Lamott: "You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that He hates all the same people you do."
* * *
P.S. I note that Ham is depicted as a redhead on the Brick Testament !! What if?...