I thought [religion] was the white, black folks' struggle for their dignity and as an outlet for their emotion. White folks using it to reaffirm their plantation ownership, so I did not see the, see the virtue in religion.

Charles Marsh: Dr. Perkins, the folks who created this evil system called Jim Crow, southern segregation, were by and large white folks who called themselves Christians. And I’m wondering as a child and as a young man, if you thought about that? When you passed the white church, did you think, “What’s going on in that place?” and how you can to terms with that fact?

John Perkins: Well, I don’t think I, I think I early on, because we, we too, our family was, while we was sharecroppers, we was also bootleggers and gamblers (laughter).  And I, and so we, we, we did not see, I did not see religion early on as relevant to society. I could not understand why black folk were Baptist because all the white folk were Baptist (more laughter). And early on, I would see all these signs, “Religion Tonight,” the revival at all these big churches, “Everybody’s Welcome.” Well, if I went there woulda been a riot. So early on, I sort of felt about the church, the totality of the church, because black folks, when I did go, we was not religious people now so I didn’t have much contact because for us it was sort of written off, but also out of my own desire to explore that people, but with moonshine and (indistinct) and bootleg and gambling, I did not see religion as being relevant to the behavior of a people, so I sort of saw it about the same way as Karl Marx saw it. I didn’t know enough about, I didn’t know Karl Marx. I learnt about that later, but I think I woulda been, I woulda been the same way about religion, that it was, you know, that’s been affirmed. All of the outstanding killing in Mississippi, that it was always a Baptist minister involved in it. They just convicted one, last one, a few months ago. And so I did not get the virtue of religion, neither did I see the meaning of it until after I came to Christ and I was truly saved. So I didn’t think of it as a religious, I didn’t see, I thought of it was the white, black folks' struggle for their dignity and as an outlet for their emotion. White folks using it to reaffirm their plantation ownership, so I did not see the, see the virtue in religion.

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