Honestly, I had a hard time writing the last essay about my Sorority being founded on Christian principles with a straight face. Moreover, I had a hard time believing it the first time I heard such at the rush. Almost every fraternity and sorority on campus made some claim to religious roots and had accompanying rites expressing them. Ironically, Greekdom is associated more with revelry, promiscuity, drunkenness, licentiousness, gossip, elitism, in-fighting, materialism, and all other manner of ungodliness than wholesomeness, benevolence, or morality.
A wide range of other organizations make the claim to rootedness in Christ. Among them are Boy Scouts, Ku Klux Klan, the Tea Party, Nazis, some prominent hospital systems, and major universities. Ironically, discipleship is not what comes to mind first when thinking of any of these entities.
Please allow me to set the record straight to keep lightning from striking me dead. Theological commitment is not a requirement of membership, just adherence to closely-related ideals. Fortunately for me, their founding principles aligned with the religious tradition in which I was raised. However, they did not stop me one bit from raising all the hell I could from Spring 1989 until I found the Lord some seven odd years later.
Quite frankly, they could have told me they were Satanic baby-eaters and I would have still pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. They were cool, hard-partying, and esteemed highly in the dating pool. Those are high priorities for a co-ed. There was plenty of time to get right with one’s maker after graduation and entry into the real world.
I seem to have this recurring conversation with my Sorors and fellow Greeks regarding what being founded on Christian principles really means. We all know that religious affiliation is not a criterion for by the quality of the membership. Nationl Panhellenic Council (NPHC) organizational symbols, rituals, and traditions are actually a syncretic combination of Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman, and African culture. God knows we don’t always act like we are God’s children. So why did our Founders see fit to set it as our foundation?
The basic teachings of Jesus Christ can be found in writings that preceded his earthly life. There is very little recorded that he said that was unique to him. However, there are three distinguishing marks of Christianity and it is only fitting that we consider them:
3. Endurance of the movement
Let us consider these three points in the context of Delta Sigma Theta. First, revolution set the stage for its founding. Developing sisterhood of college-educated black women unaffiliated with any other organization was quite a radical move on the part of our founders. To top it off, they immediately inserted themselves into the forefront of the political issues of the day, while committing themselves to social change, academic excellence, and each other. The latter is the most significant because we are a sisterhood first. When done right, the radical love ethic inherent to belonging supercedes most natural relationships. Membership in NPHC organizations is established not just for the duration of their collegiate years, but for a lifetime (unlike their historically white counterparts).
Secondly, regeneration must occur seal the identity of those who become members of a fraternal organization. Christianity offers the opportunity for a new life empowered by the Holy Spirit. Because he lives we have the opportunity to be born again. Membership in a fraternity or sorority requires one to have a similar experience. New initiates into Delta Sigma Theta are equipped with cardinal virtues, oath, and rituals which embody our values. Sisterhood is the spirit that empowers each member to adhere to the charge placed on her and guide her in her life of service.
Finally, there is endurance. No other movement in history compares to the rapid rise, sustained growth, permeance, and impact of Christianity. Delta Sigma Theta just celebrated its first century of existence. By the looks of things, she is not going anywhere. It is very rare to see a fraternity or sorority cease. Delta is now a sisterhood of more than 260,000 strong with over 900 chapters located in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. We carry the torch ignited by our Founders to use our collective strength to:
· promote academic excellence;
· provide scholarships;
· provide support to the under-served;
· educate and stimulate participation in the establishment of positive public policy;
· highlight issues and provide solutions for problems in their communities; and
· use our collective strength to support one another in our respective endeavors.
Like Christianity, we, as a Sorority, have had a major impact on history—for better and for worse. We fall short on occasion, but our guiding spirit keeps us collectively on the track toward our ideals. We are not perfect, but together we perfect our purpose.