Black Church Leaders Divided Over Divine Nine Membership

Shown are the D9 member enjoying the day at Klutho Park

D9 members have proudly sported their respective organization’s paraphernalia and colors for generations while eagerly using distinctive signs and actions to represent their affiliation. This includes waving pinkies in the air while simultaneously shouting “Skee-Wee,” throwing up the Delta triangle, shimmying shoulders in true Nupe fashion, or strolling — an organized dance influenced by South African Culture performed in a line — on university campuses, at parties or graduation. 

But a wave of controversial testimonial videos on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok of ex-members publicly denouncing their D9 membership and viral sermons condemning affiliation with the organizations could drive a mass exodus from Black and non-Black fraternities and sororities alike.

D9 organizations include Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Iota Phi Theta.

The videos have revived conversations on whether Christians should be affiliated with such organizations. Church leaders stand divided on the issue.

“Believers have always been able to be on two different sides of issues,” Nathaniel Robinson III, senior pastor of Coconut Grove’s Greater Saint Paul A.M.E and member of Omega Psi Phi, told The Miami Times. “But I don’t think that it’s good that we have faith leaders (who) are publicly challenging organizations that have been a staple in the Black community for years.”

“These organizations have (fought) for equal opportunities and all of these things for Black people, have upheld the Black community and inspire so many children to go to college and do great things. The faith community has always been the backbone of the Black community (so) I think this is detrimental to the existence of these organizations,” he continued. 

The string of social media influencers, believers, and church leaders who stand in opposition to membership in such fraternities and sororities say the hazing, secret bizarre rituals, oaths, ties to Greek gods and the organizations’ practices are demonic and not of God. Quoting 2 Corinthians 6:17,  D9 renouncers — who say God told them to leave their organization — are calling on other Christians to “Come out from among them.”

“At the end of the day, it’s their decision,” said Robinson. “If a person feels that God is leading them away from something then they need to get away from it but that does not mean that those of us that God is not leading away from it are evil.

Some believers also point to the organizations’ naming as signs of idolatry, arguing that only God should be recognized as the “Alpha” and “Omega.”

“Me and Pastor Stephanie (Ike) denounced the sororities we were a part of. I can’t preach to you about killing your idols when I’m in covenant with one,” said Brenda Palmer, a former Delta member, Los-Angeles-based pastor and frequent preacher at A Potter’s House pastored by T.D. Jakes’ daughter Sarah Jakes Roberts and her husband. “There is deception getting us to bow to things unknowingly. The only roll I want my name on is the lamb’s book of life.” 

In an episode on the Hardly Initiated Podcast, Palmer explained what led to her realization. 

“Every organization has a Greek god attached to it. So while I thought I was making a pledge to an organization, I actually took an oath to another god,” she said, pointing to Minerva as the goddess associated with the Deltas. “Not only do they tell you that but you recognize her in the process. There’s some things you do, looking up to Minerva.”

A sermon on YouTube where lead pastor of Houston-based Time of Celebration Ministries Church Jerry Flowers described his initiation process into a D9 organization has also gone viral.  

“There was a symbol that was before me. I didn’t know what it was at 21,” said Flowers, who did not go through with joining the organization in college. “As I began to do a little research, I discovered it was the Great Sphinx. I just decided to look it up because I’m a PK (pastor’s kid) and symbolism means everything to me. The emblem, the logo, the brand of what I was about to pledge to was an Egyptian deity. A solar god that Egypt worshiped, corhomack. How does God feel about us looking at this image?”

“My sisters, was it Christ-like for you to say ‘To thee, oh Alpha Kappa Alpha, I pledge my heart and my strength,” he continued. “For you to say ‘Delta, with glowing hearts, we praise thee.’ I’m not attacking, I’m not condemning. I’m asking you to do exactly what Paul said. Test everything.”

“I was the person who used to side eye people for denouncing an organization,” said Candace Junee, a marketing coach, in an Instagram video about choosing to denounce AKA. “I always thought they were a little crazy or they were just taking it a little too far. I always thought it wasn’t that big of a deal. But God started to deal with me personally.”

Robinson argues that his fraternity is a Christian organization that frowns on hazing, promotes Christian manhood and is founded on rituals from the Bible. 

“The men that I know who are fraternity brothers of mine are extreme Christians, who love God,” he said. “If you say God is asking you to denounce your Greek letter fraternity or sorority, don’t stop there. If you’re going to denounce anything you pledge allegiance to … do we denounce the U.S. where we pledge allegiance to the flag? Our alma matter where we sing our school songs?”

A Facebook post showing Robinson behind the pulpit with an Omega sweater captioned: “I’m a Christian and a Que. Both require me to renounce Satan and all his works…(and) follow principles set forth in the Bible” was questioned by those who watched Flowers’ sermon.

“As a pastor’s child and man of God, if I were asked to praise or bow to another deity, I would have refused,” said Robinson, asserting that some have misappropriated scriptures to justify their stance on certain issues. “I haven’t heard his full sermon, but I think Pastor Flowers made the right choice. And that would also be my recommendation if an organization required someone to do that, but I wasn’t required to do that.” 

“Everybody that’s in a sorority or fraternity have made that their idol,” said Tiphani Montgomery, a prophetess with a 300,000 Instagram following who leads the Covered by God ministry, in a social media post. “99.9% of y’all got jumped in … you identify as a believer and you want me to believe that your God, Elohim, said that you should get hazed to be in this organization? God would never do that to you. I’ve heard the hazing stories.”

“I don’t care how much they do for the community” she continued, not mincing words. “’Well, we give a lot to the community. We give a lot to the poor.’ So do drug dealers. Frank Lucas did it. What drug dealer don’t give away turkeys on Thanksgiving?”

Videos of D9 members strolling in churches, namely Omegas, Deltas, AKAs and Alphas dancing to T.I.’s “Bring Em Out” inside The dReam Center Church of Atlanta, have also widely been criticized, calling faith leaders lukewarm and saying such actions have no place inside the church. 

“It brings me to something I heard about not being too heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good,” said Cohen, claiming some have over-spiritualized the issue. “I think it’s a personal thing and I wouldn’t knock anyone for saying they would denounce their Greek letters, but to deem it demonic or to say that anyone who is a part of it is worshiping an idol god is kind of taking it too far.”

An unidentified attorney and D9 member on TikTok suggested having members upon initiation sign an NDA with liquidated damages up to $20,000 to prevent them from sharing confidential information on rituals or tarnishing the organizations’ reputation should they publicly denounce.

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