Even at their worst, the churches kept alive a vision of man and fraternity, a knowledge of injustice suffered and retribution due. And for long periods, given the hopeless political environment in which the Negro found himself, “other-worldliness” was the only basis on which such an understanding of the self could be maintained at all, and God’s city was the only defense against the standards of white society…Liberalism taught equality, but equality meant either individualism–more dangerous to the possibility of political resistance–or tended to doctrines of likeness and adaptation. The Lord taught a different lesson.
In ways unrelated to doctrine, the political importance of the church is even clearer. The churches were the major schools in which blacks learned the techniques of association–and to judge from the data, the teaching was more effective than in any other ethnic culture.
Wilson Carey McWilliams, The Idea of Fraternity in America, 583.