Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Is Greek Life Incompatible with Christianity?


I ran across this recent article written by Jameka Merriweather. In it, an Alpha steps down from his position as his Chapter's President and denounces the fraternity because he says that Black Greekdom goes against Christianity.

In the article a man named Frederick Hatchett has dedicated his life to convincing others to denounced Greek organizations. What's wild about this is that I knew Fred personally for many years, and he was a Que and a Mason. He definitely let the lifestyle consume him to the point where it was probably a good idea for him to denounce them. I know many others that also let their letters define them.

Personally, I think that Greek Organizations are OK and not in conflict with Christianity, and I'm not saying this just because I'm an Alpha. I am saying this because I believe that if you completely put yourself into ANYTHING, you are at risk of having it become your God and negatively losing yourself in it--even religion. Just like some people lose sight of the purpose behind Black Greek organizations, some people lose sight behind the true meaning of the religion they profess to the point where it can become dangerous--cultish even.

Knowing Fred, I think it's safe to say that he was one of those people.

Greek or Non-Greek...Let me know what you think.

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A debate at historically Black Prairie View A&M University in Texas over Greek-lettered organizations and their relationship to Christianity got so heated that the president of the campus chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., stepped down from his position and denounced his membership.

Against the Will of God?

The flak over Greek-lettered organizations and their relationship to Christianity dates back to at least the mid-1980s, but how the argument got to this point was an opinion pieced titled "Why God wants you to denounce your letters," published in the student newspaper, The Panther.

In the article, a student anonymously urges others to denounce their Greek letters or steer clear of Greek-lettered organizations.

He said fraternities and sororities were "idols to themselves and to people who long to be a member of them," adding that these organizations take the place of God in some people’s hearts because they spend time "worshiping" the organizations and not God.

The student said, "demons used the founders of secret societies and Greek/Egyptian organizations to create a stronghold for young people for years to come," claiming these demons purposely work against the will of God.

"Organizations encourage members as well as potential members to dedicate all their time and efforts to their success," he said, which conflicts with God's will.

The debate lasted until the semester’s end. In response to "Why God wants you to denounce your letters," the Panther published, "Why God is ONE with my letters."

The author of that piece, B.J. O'Neal, summarized the opposing arguments as "a common mishap that occurs when religious people err in their understandings or over-interpret human action as it relates to historical events documented in the Bible." He argued that people should realize that "the true intentions of Greek organizations are in fact aligned with what God would have his people doing."

O'Neal supported his statements by citing personal experiences and Bible verses.

But it was when the chapter president of Alpha Phi Alpha at Prairie View A&M published his own article about why he bounced from his frat that things got even more intense.

'Why I Denounced My Letters'

Fuel was added to the fire when the president of the Eta Gamma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Asad Abdul-Salaam, stepped down and denounced his fraternity membership. Abdul-Salaam wrote, "Why I denounced my letters."

Abdul-Salaam condemned Greek images and symbols, and called the rituals "anti-Christian."

"Asad was a great president," said Mark Anthony Williams II, the new president of the Eta Gamma Chapter. "He was somebody that I truly looked up to and still do. It takes bravery to work hard and to get somewhere but also to step down due to religious reasons. I don’t know a lot of people that would do that."

"We, as Alphas, don’t look at him differently. We don’t talk about him behind his back. I still love Asad to death," Williams said. "If he believes his walk with God will be greater, it’s not for us to judge. Asad is not a sporadic guy; it was something well thought out."

However, Williams said, "I personally know a lot of people that are extremely involved in church — preachers, deacons, mothers — and it’s all about how you personally portray your letters," he said. "Your organization may be flawed, but you can try to help it become better and [get] back to its original intent."

Williams said it would be better to have written about how Greek life has digressed from its original path.

Misguided Interpretations

The Rev. Kenneth I. Clarke Sr., a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and director of Cornell United Religious Work at Cornell University, traces the current debate to such ministers as Frederic Hatchett and Gail Gray, who condemn Greek-lettered organizations.

Hatchett is the founder of the Web site www.dontgogreek.com and author of "Coming Apart at the Seams: Biblically Unravelling the Evils of Sororities and Fraternities." On his Web site, he claims to have 21 years of "experience" with Greek-lettered organizations, "six years as an outsider looking in, five as an insider, 10 and counting as a born again, denounced member."

Hatchett says the origin of these organizations can be found in the "Ancient Cults of Babylon," which can be proved in "SEVEN undeniable similarities between Ancient Babylonian Cults and Greek Organizations today."

Gray is the author of "Greek-Letter Organizations: Offspring of Abomination." Her mission is to teach about "the spiritual conflict surrounding Christian membership within secret societies," according to her Web site, www.gailgray.com.

Clarke says of these critics, "They take text [from the Bible] that supports their case with a snip of a ritual and say it's evidence. You can’t take a quote out of an initiation without putting it into context," Clarke said.

Clarke said he finds this difficult to do if you have not been a part of a Greek-letter organization because, he said, members understand the symbolism behind the rituals.

"For example, I shouldn’t know what a Kappa ritual means as an Alpha any more than a Kappa should know about Alpha’s rituals," he said.

He also said, "some of the language of the rituals are used symbolically and not to be taken literally."

He maintains that some rituals have been handed down throughout history and have historical references or references to African culture.

"I have never had to make a decision between Alpha Phi Alpha and my faith," Clarke said. "No one is asked to serve something else other than God, just have a commitment to your organization."

Clarke said he is concerned that this debate will affect younger members who do not have tight grasp on their organization’s history or Black history.

Thus, Clarke says it is essential for older members and graduate members to converse with the younger ones and help them to have a better grasp of their organization’s past and of the purposes on which they were founded.

"These arguments are problematic," he said. "Christianity, as well as other religions, are most potent, most transformative when they clarify what they stand for as opposed to misguided interpretations of faith that speak about what they are against."

19 comments:

Gene said...

Some debates never die, huh. LOL!

Your relatinship with God should be personal. Organized religion has developed into something God never meant for it to be. What is right for you and yours should be determined by your personal relationship with God AND supported by your faith's holy text. Yes Greek Life can be incompatible with one's faith, but so can many other things - including being a member of the NAACP, your relationship with your mother your way of thinking, etc. We need to get to the root of the issues and stop just attacking the surfaces. Many of the issues that some of us who have gone through this battle have faced SEEM like they are rooted in Greek Life, but they aren't. The true test will be how much this brother's life changes now that he is no longer Greek. I wish him the best.

Ticia said...

Gene--great comments....

I am an Eastern Star---and you already should know that script abt how some folks view our organization.....

It is what it is---
I am not an active member due to my location change...

A Beautiful Life said...

Perhaps the people who feel the need to leave their letters behind were the same people who idolized their organization at one point in their lives. They never knew balance. In college it could be difficult for a born again person to be in a chapter where a negative lifestyle (partying, drunkeness, fighting, etc) is the norm.

Anointed1ne said...

Well here's my take...

I am an Alpha, and a Christian. In my upbringing, I was taught to put God first above everything. I love Alpha dearly, and it is definitely in my heart, but when it come to serving and worshiping God, Alpha business must take a backseat. My sister is a Delta, and also a minister. She would be a perfect example of a person who has balanced both Greek life, and Christianity. I can remember when she had to cancel going to her sorority meetings because she had obligations at the church. Greek Life definitely becomes incompatible when you put it above every other thing in your life. Especially above God.

Gene said...

But let me reiterate it CAN BE difficult living a holy life and being in a fraternity and even impossible. I can testify to that. But fraternity's are made up of people, so if you leave your frat and are steal hanging out with people who don't share the principles you say you share, was it really solely Greekness? Has anything really changed?

Anonymous said...

There's no doubt that there is a culture surrounding SOME aspects of Greek Life that is in direct conflict with righteous living. But truth be told, greek culture is just a subculture of college life which is just a subculture of society as a whole. All of the sin you'll find in frats, you'll find on the yard in general and in every other aspect of society - including campus ministries and even churches. So what are we going to say? Don't pledge? Don't go to college? Don't go outside? JUST DIE BECAUSE SIN IS EVER PRESENT?!

The greater truth is that we need to be prepared to live for Christ wherever we are. And yes we should try to avoid situations where that is more difficult than not, but being a hermit is not going to make you more holy. Besides, what about the great commission?

A Beautiful Life said...

Good point Anonymous

Rell said...

Real Talk:

That's the ONLY reason I didn't pursue the interests (well i started and didn't finish) that I had at UNC.

"You'll go to hell -- you can't be a christian and in a frat, ESPECIALLY that one," is what I heard from home.

So i didn't -- I don't know if you can or not because I'm not in fraternity.

But I know Gene and KB, they seem to be doing a good job.

Gene said...

Thanks Rell. I seem to be doing a good job NOW. LOL. I sucked at balancing my frat and faith in college, but I sucked at balancing my faith with everything else in college too. : ( But that's because faith - at least the Christian faith - is not to be balanced with the world. It's to take precedence over it.

dcsavvystar said...

I agree with you on this one. I'm DST and we experienced the loss of a LS for this very reason.

Lola Gets said...

I am so not a Christian, but Imma comment anyways, lol. I have heard of some Muslims believing that Greek life is incompatible with their faith. Personally, I dont think so, but Im strange, lol.
L

Anonymous said...

I AM A MEMBER OF ALPHA PHI ALPHA. This is so sad. I pledged Alpha and did a bunch of stuff that in retrospect seems stupid. Nevertheless, one of the most spiritual experiences in my life occured on November 23, 2003, when I took part in a ritual that has remained remarkably the same for over 100 years. I will NOT say much about the ritual, but I will say this: WE QUOTE BIBLE SCRIPTURES IN OUR RITUAL. This is crazy. You have to separate the local foolishness from the general organization. Alpha is very religious, almost too religious. I'm sure Dr. King and other ministers would not be in the Fraternity if it was too secular.

Anonymous said...

That being said: College life is secular in general. I went to a private school that had chapels. If you're at a public school, you really have to find and maintain a relationship with God on your own iniatives. Greek life and student life in general can be a distraction. I don't think this is about symbols or rituals. I think this about personal walks with God. You have to define that for yourself. In Corinthins 6:12, Saint Paul said, "Everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me—but I will not be mastered by anything."
The word "virtue" comes from the Latin word for man, vir, and strength, virtus. We also get words like virile from this root word. Virtue means to show or have manly strength or courage. It means bravery. Manly deeds or virtue is at the heart of Alpha Phi Alpha. In fact, it is the first aim of the Fraternity. The first step to becoming an ALPHA MAN. Virtue lies within the mean or in the middle. The average Christian is not called to live an extreme lifestyle. We not all called to be hermits or monks who live in cloister. In fact, most Christians must live in the world be not live for the world. That's a struggle. That's our calling. I'm praying for this young man because I believe he took the easy way out. Which is not a sin or bad, but a little disappointing. If we live in the world, sin is ever-present. Sure Alpha and other Greek organizations have their problems. That does not mean that participation itself is sinful. It only means that we have to be on guard. We have to clothe ourselve in faith and prayer. My heart tells me that my brother made the best decision for his spiritual maturity. At this point in his life, UNDERGRADUATE Greek life is not beneficial for his spiritual maturity. Nevertheless, I would caution others from making hasty generalization. The Spirit of Alpha Phi Alpha and all other Greek organizations is SERVICE, Love for all Mankind. That, my friends, is the essence of true religion. Saint James said it best, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before god, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." In short, true religion is to care for those on the margins of society, while maintaining your relationship with God. The aim of Alpha Phi Alpha and other Greek organizaiton is to inspire their members to find that virtus balance.

itsasecret said...

"You have to define that for yourself. In Corinthins 6:12, Saint Paul said, "Everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me—but I will not be mastered by anything."
The word "virtue" comes from the Latin word for man, vir, and strength, virtus. We also get words like virile from this root word. Virtue means to show or have manly strength or courage. It means bravery. Manly deeds or virtue is at the heart of Alpha Phi Alpha." anonymous

Careful how you interpret anonymous. You said your ritual is unchanged over 100 years. Well who is the light of he world discussed in your ritual? Can you really answer that?

How do you balance pledging and Christianity, unless you are paper of course. Then how do you balance the Universal Brotherhood of Man, taught by all GLO's? The House of Alpha clearly teaches that all men, regardless of who they worship are equal.

AJ said...

I am late to the origin of this discussion, but this topic has become of interest to me. First, I am not a member of a GLO but have many friends that are. Second, what I have to say will not make sense to anyone who has not confessed Jesus Christ as Lord.(1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Cor. 2:14, 1 Cor. 3:19)

I want to also lay this foundation....the devil who is our enemy is extremely cunning (2 Cor. 11:3)and the bible even says he is the Father of all lies (John 8:44). So do you think he will come and lie to you in an obvious way? NO! He is the MASTER of deception and this is how he deceives many people not only in GLO's but in the church at large. The devil is at work in a way that even Christians will miss if we are not wise and are not walking in the spirit. (Matthew 24:24)

Fred Hatchett (www.dontgogreek.com) does make a good point by stating that GLO's have a strange similarity to Ancient Egyptian cults. Check his website for more info. Why do some GLO's call themselves greek when they actually have association and pledge allegiance (why do you think they are called pledges?)with eqyptian gods and goddesses? Even to the point of attaching them to their crest and symbols. Do you not realize that by being attached to these ancient Egpyt Gods, comes association with a curse (Eze. 28)
You say....this has nothing to do with GLO's.....and again I say....the devil is cunning. This is exactly what he wants you to believe! Who in their right mind would knowingly and undeceived, go into something cultish? Which brings me to my next point....

Here are some of my observations of things GLO's do that do not match with God's character and His word:

1. Secrecy.
- Again I am not a member of a GLO but even I know that I am not supposed to bring up or ask about certain things. Why? Because The devil wants to keep his works a secret to perpetuate this cycle.
2. Humiliation
- What kind of organization does God want you to be apart of that humiliates you....and for what? Brotherhood and sisterhood? This is crazy and if you know anything about the spirit realm....you will realize that only the spirit of rejection and low-self esteem make room for welcomed ABUSE! There are hundreds...yes hundreds (maybe thousands)of people who have died or been hospitilized because of GLO's and the spirit of abuse they choose to participate in. And what did they die for? The name of Christ...no... a GLO. People, this is RIDICULOUS and completely not of GOD.
3. Many Greeks make their pledges:
-bow down at a table or altar
(Deut.8:19, Deut.30:17, Deut. 17:3)
-Make oaths
(Duet. 6:13)
-Abuse others and even kill others
(Prov. 19:29)

I could go on and on. But my point is this: The enemy has deceived those Christians who think they can live exactly like Christ did and be apart of an organzation that claims all roads lead to heaven. Again one is not just a member...but a pledge who has become "one" by oath to an organization that was not inspired by God, not ordained by God and in fact goes against Godly principles. If you are thinking or joining an organzation like a GLO I urge you to pray...."Lord, not my will, but thine be done." If you can hear from GOd I promise He will not tell you to join. Pledging to a GLO is a willed out of the flesh. Anytime you CAN NOT denounce something or have a hard time letting it go (except for Jesus of course) beware of a stronghold. Anytime you hear the truth but make excuses for something that is clearly not of God....that is a demonic spirit. All the comments on here unfortunately are making excuses....do your research on GLO's and their origin. Please visit my blog:
http://ourfreedom.blogspot.com

AJ said...

Made a mistake!
Actually my blog can be found at: http://ourfreedomtoday.blogspot.com
Thanks!
AJ

GOD's Little Girl said...

i have decided to no longer pursue obtain the membership i wanted due to this debate...i chose not to take the chance with my soul....i will be blogging about this topic soon......godslttlgrl.blogspot.com

Galen Muhammad said...

I would be more concerned about a person's understanding of their own faith more than one's understanding of their organization's history.

The anti-secret society FAR predates people like the Hatchetts and Grays. It goes back to the first secret societies' founding dates.

These people's mission is to use their own interpretation of the Bible to CONvince GLO members to denounce their membership. It's a shame that they've even had a limited success, but again, it proves to demonstrate the lack of understanding and how un-rooted some can be in their own faith.

Kee525 said...

I am a born again christian that has been looking into joining a BGLO. I have been doing a lot of research about their history and based on the things that I've read here and my own personal research, I've decided to not join one. I just would not feel comfortable with taking part of their rituals and pledging allegiance to an organization that acknowledges Greek gods and goddesses when I am supposed to be worshiping the one God I serve. 2 Corinthians 6:16-17 says “what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple
of the living God; just as God said, ‘I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG
THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
"Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,".

Not to mention that Greeks were some of the main persecutors of Christians. I don't see any good coming from a true Christian being involved in a GREEK letter organization.

I know that there are tons of Christians that are involved in BGLOs that will argue that they don't go that deep into it (the rituals, pledges, and chants)and don't put the frat or sorority before God. But the Bible states in Matthew 12:34-37, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks…Men will
have to give account on the day of judgment for EVERY careless word they have spoken.
For by your WORDS you will be acquitted, and by your WORDS you will be condemned.” Whether it was meant or not, God will charge us Christians for every word we speak. I don't want to be caught saying anything that goes against God and His Word especially if I know that it's wrong and choose to ignore it.

I just hope that others will really take it seriously and not just glaze over the fact that if a person proclaims Christ (preacher, minister, average joe, young and old) and is knowingly involved in anything that may have been founded on things that are ungodly, that person should reevaluate their relationship with God just as I would have, had I joined one.