Institutional Decline or Evolution?: An Intergenerational Analysis of African-American Religiosity
Date of Award
African American religion, born from the traumas of institutionalized slavery, has played a significant role in the religio-cultural development of enslaved Africans and their descendants. Forced to adapt to the tumultuousness of systematic mistreatment and dehumanization at the hands of oppressive European forces, African peoples managed to create faith-based safe spaces in which they could socialize freely amongst themselves, ultimately protecting their indigenous spiritual belief systems and negotiating them with a reinvention of Eurocentric Christianity into the Black Church. This hybridization of West African spirituality and the Christian faith cemented itself into the culture of Black Americans for generations. However, younger generations of African Americans - especially millennials - are no longer affiliating with traditional African American religious institutions in lieu of alternative spiritual practices. Drawing on resources from the fields of theology, sociology, and history, this project explores the increasing religious disaffiliation of Black millennials from the Black Church and thus aims to contribute to the interdisciplinary field of Black Church studies from an intergenerational perspective, with a focus on millennial religiosity and hybridity. Why has religiosity among African American millennials declined drastically? Does this decline mark an end of the Black Church? My hypothesis is that African American religiosity has declined due to millennial disillusionment with institutional organized religion. Nonetheless, the Black Church is simultaneously evolving into a new religio-spiritual space to meet the needs of younger African American generations.
Walker, E. B. (2023). Institutional Decline or Evolution?: An Intergenerational Analysis of African-American Religiosity. Retrieved from https://poetcommons.whittier.edu/scholars/9
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