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Opinions on faith in the black community

The Rev. DeForest "Buster" Soaries Jr. writes about the black church and the role they play in black empowerment.
The Rev. DeForest "Buster" Soaries Jr. writes about the black church and the role they play in black empowerment.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Professor writes of how to bridge both the African-American experience and the Catholic faith.
  • T.D. Jakes: "Prayer is good, but you also have to be able to manage your checkbook."
  • Myokei Caine-Barrett, of African-Japanese descent shares how she found refuge in Buddhism.
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CNN's Soledad O'Brien looks at how some are fighting debt from the pulpit in "Almighty Debt: A Black in America Special," premiering at 9 p.m. ET on October 21.

Over the last couple of months, CNN has highlighted diverse perspectives on faith in the black community in an opinion series, "The Black Pulpit."

Explore some of those viewpoints below:

Black churches and the role of empowerment
The Rev. DeForest "Buster" Soaries Jr. is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey. He is featured in CNN's documentary, "Almighty Debt" and explained what he thinks of as the black churches' role of empowerment. "What is irrefutable is that without a deep and authentic faith and a passion for the institutional development of that faith, African-Americans could have never sustained the fortitude necessary to survive and succeed in the American experience."

Heavenly minded, financially empowered
Bishop T.D. Jakes, best-selling author and senior pastor of the legendary 30,000-member Dallas-based church, The Potter's House, writes "As a faith leader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, I've always had one foot in both the practical and the spiritual worlds. Prayer is good, but you also have to be able to manage your checkbook."

Finding refuge in Buddhism
Myokei Caine-Barrett is the first woman of African-Japanese descent to be ordained as a minister in the Nichiren Shu Order. She shares how she found refuge in Buddhism and how it helped her be a bridge. "Buddhism has been the mainstay of my life, enabling me to understand life's reality and providing a practice of faith to deal with that reality."

Authentically black and truly Catholic
Dr. C. Vanessa White, an assistant professor of spirituality and the firector of a program that prepares African-American lay Catholic men and women for ministry in the church, says "What has helped black Catholics survive in the midst of almost insurmountable odds is a spirituality that bridges both our African-American experience and our Catholic faith."

Churches played vital role in historically black colleges' success
Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, writes "I vividly remember being introduced to the historic role churches played in black education. ... The churches' investment in black education paid dividends, not only to the students, but also for America."

Gaining freedom through faith and good works
The Rev. Jesse Jackson writes in his opinion piece, "My faith tradition has always been inextricably bound with the tradition of the civil rights movement. The blood, sweat and tears of "the movement" have run through my life; they touched and entangled me with an indelible spirit of never giving up, always trying to serve."