Examines the history of religious practice by African Americans and the development of religious institutions, regional movements, and important personalities from the time of slavery up to the twentieth century.
Since the first African American denomination was established in Philadelphia in 1818, churches have gone beyond their role as spiritual guides in African American communities and have served as civic institutions, spaces for education, and sites for the cultivation of individuality andidentities in the face of limited or non-existent freedom.In this Very Short Introduction, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. explores the history and circumstances of African American religion through three examples: conjure, African American Christianity, and African American Islam. He argues that the phrase "African American religion" is meaningful only insofar as itdescribes how through religion, African Americans have responded to oppressive conditions including slavery, Jim Crow apartheid, and the pervasive and institutionalized discrimination that exists today. This bold claim frames his interpretation of the historical record of the wide diversity ofreligious experiences in the African American community. He rejects the common tendency to racialize African American religious experiences as an inherent proclivity towards religiousness and instead focuses on how religious communities and experiences have developed in the African Americancommunity and the context in which these developments took place.
Most who think about African American religion limit themselves to black churches, or perhaps to aspects of Islamic thought and practice. But a close look at the religious landscape of African American communities presents a much more complex, thick, and layered religious reality comprising many competing faiths and practices. The African American Religious Experience in America provides readers with an introduction to the tremendous religious diversity of African American communities in the United States, with snapshots of 11 religious traditions practiced by African Americans--from Buddhism to Catholicism, from Judaism to Voodoo. Each snapshot provides readers a better understanding of how African Americans practice their faiths in the United States. The African American Religious Experience in America provides resources for students taking classes on the history of American religion, African American Studies, and on American Studies. In addition to the in-depth discussion of the varieties of African American Religion, the volume includes a historical introduction to the development of African American Religion, a glossary of terms, a timeline of important events, a series of short biographies of important figures in the history of African American religion and a bibliography of sources for further study. Finally, the book includes a series of primary source documents that will provide students with first-person accounts of how religion is practiced in the African American community both today and in the past.
Winner of the 2017 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions Shows how early 20th-century resistance to conventional racial categorization contributed to broader discussions in black America that still resonate today When Joseph Nathaniel Beckles registered for the draft in the 1942, he rejected the racial categories presented to him and persuaded the registrar to cross out the check mark she had placed next to Negro and substitute "Ethiopian Hebrew." "God did not make us Negroes," declared religious leaders in black communities of the early twentieth-century urban North. They insisted that so-called Negroes are, in reality, Ethiopian Hebrews, Asiatic Muslims, or raceless children of God. Rejecting conventional American racial classification, many black southern migrants and immigrants from the Caribbean embraced these alternative visions of black history, racial identity, and collective future, thereby reshaping the black religious and racial landscape. Focusing on the Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam, Father Divine's Peace Mission Movement, and a number of congregations of Ethiopian Hebrews, Judith Weisenfeld argues that the appeal of these groups lay not only in the new religious opportunities membership provided, but also in the novel ways they formulated a religio-racial identity. Arguing that members of these groups understood their religious and racial identities as divinely-ordained and inseparable, the book examines how this sense of self shaped their conceptions of their bodies, families, religious and social communities, space and place, and political sensibilities. Weisenfeld draws on extensive archival research and incorporates a rich array of sources to highlight the experiences of average members. The book demonstrates that the efforts by members of these movements to contest conventional racial categorization contributed to broader discussions in black America about the nature of racial identity and the collective future of black people that still resonate today.
Does God want us to be wealthy? Many people believe that God offers not only eternal joy in the hereafter but also material blessings in the here and now. Other Christians see this "prosperity theology," as nothing more than vulgar materialism, incompatible with orthodox Christianity. InRighteous Riches, Milmon F. Harrison examines the Word of Faith movement, an independent, non-denominational Christian movement that preaches the so-called "health and wealth gospel."The Word of Faith movement is an international network loosely bound by a basic doctrine called the "Faith Message," which teaches that it is God's will for Christians to be prosperous, successful, and healthy in the present life. Drawing on his personal experiences as a former insider andin-depth interviews with members, Harrison takes us inside the movement, revealing what it is like to belong, and how people accept, reject, and reshape Word of Faith doctrines to fit their own lives. Although the movement is not exclusively African American, many of its most prominent andrecognized leaders are African American ministers with large congregations and national television audiences. Analyzing the movement's appeal to African Americans, Harrison argues that, because of their history of oppression and discrimination, African American religious institutions have always hadto address the material--as well as spiritual--concerns of their members. The Word of Faith Movement, he says, is one of several prosperity movements that resonate strongly with African Americans. Situating the movement in the contexts of both contemporary American religion and the history of theBlack Church, Righteous Riches offers a fascinating look at a quintessentially American phenomenon.
This is a study, from an insider's perspective, of the worship practices and social ethics of the African-American family of Holiness, Pentecostal, and Apostolic churches known as the Sanctified Church, identifying the theme of exile as a key to the nature of African-American religious life.
Talking to the Dead is an ethnography of seven Gullah/Geechee women from the South Carolina lowcountry. These women communicate with their ancestors through dreams, prayer, and visions and traditional crafts and customs, such as storytelling, basket making, and ecstatic singing in their churches. Like other Gullah/Geechee women of the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, these women, through their active communication with the deceased, make choices and receive guidance about how to live out their faith and engage with the living. LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant emphasizes that this communication affirms the women's spiritual faith--which seamlessly integrates Christian and folk traditions--and reinforces their position as powerful culture keepers within Gullah/Geechee society. By looking in depth at this long-standing spiritual practice, Manigault-Bryant highlights the subversive ingenuity that lowcountry inhabitants use to thrive spiritually and to maintain a sense of continuity with the past.
An analysis of African American televangelists as cultural icons Through their constant television broadcasts, mass video distributions, and printed publications, African American religious broadcasters have a seemingly ubiquitous presence in popular culture. They are on par with popular entertainers and athletes in the African American community as cultural icons even as they are criticized by others for taking advantage of the devout in order to subsidize their lavish lifestyles. For these reasons questions abound. Do televangelists proclaim the message of the gospel or a message of greed? Do they represent the "authentic" voice of the black church or the Christian Right in blackface? Does the phenomenon reflect orthodox "Christianity" or ethnocentric "Americaninity" wrapped in religious language? Watch This! seeks to move beyond such polarizing debates by critically delving into the dominant messages and aesthetic styles of African American televangelists and evaluating their ethical implications.