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Report: African-Americans Surpass Others in Religiosity

posted by nsymmonds

WASHINGTON (RNS) African-Americans surpass others in the U.S. in a range of expressions of faith, from praying more to attending religious services more frequently, a new report shows.
“Compared with other racial and ethnic groups, African-Americans are among the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation, with fully 87 percent of African-Americans describing themselves as belonging to one religious group or another,” states “A Religious Portrait of African-Americans,” released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on Friday (Jan. 30.)
The analysis finds that:
– 79 percent of blacks say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56 percent of all U.S. adults
– 76 percent say they pray on at least daily, compared to 58 percent of the total U.S. population
–88 percent believe in God with absolute certainty, compared to 71 percent of all U.S. adults
– 83 percent believe in angels and demons, compared to 68 percent of the total U.S. population.
–53 percent of African-Americans report attending religious services at least weekly, compared to 39 percent of Americans overall.
The research, drawn from Pew’s 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, showed that most African-Americans — 59 percent — are affiliated with historically black churches.
Another 15 percent belong to evangelical churches, 4 percent to mainline Protestant churches, and 5 percent to Catholic churches. One percent each are affiliated with Jehovah’s Witness and Muslim congregations, and 12 percent are unaffiliated.
Even blacks who are not affiliated with congregations demonstrated significant religious interest. Almost three-quarters of Africans-Americans who are unaffiliated with a particular faith say religion plays at least a “somewhat important” role in their lives.
Almost half — 45 percent — of unaffiliated African-Americans say it is “very important in their lives. In comparison, 16 percent of the overall population of unaffiliated Americans said religion is very important.
By Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved.No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



  • Tom

    Nnmns, a penny for your thoughts :-)

  • Henrietta22

    I think the statistics for Black-Americans is probably the most accurate. The others I question. It isn’t surprising because they belong to Baptist Churches, all kinds, and this is a prerequisite to be a Baptist member. They also belong in numbers to A.M.E.. I went to school with black students in N.J. in the 40′s, we never talked about religion, and didn’t with caucasian students either, they were tops all of them so that’s all that mattered back then. Our children never discussed religion with their classmates in the 6o’s and 70′s either. I think we have our needle stuck and should take it out, and just enjoy each other as we are.

  • pagansister

    That somehow doesn’t surprise me…have noted that in my life…much of my life having been in Southern states. Religion is a major component of their lives. Lots of cars outside the black churches every Sunday….until 2:00 or 3:00 in the PM.

  • nnmns

    Well, I’m no expert but I conjecture it’s because churches were comforting in slave days, probably told them they’d get their reward in heaven. Probably any preacher with a more radical message didn’t last long.
    And I suppose in Jim Crow days their churches were a relatively safe place, maybe where they could be themselves.
    And I’d comment that bad things all too often lead to more bad things.

  • allforjoy

    Historically, church on Sunday was the one day slaves could let their light shine, worship, rest, renew and socialize with family and like-minded friends, etc.
    But in modern times we have very current reasons for high church attendance and religious affiliation. In difficult times, we attend because it strengthens our faith. It nourishes an inner strength that does not waiver in light of current events or personal struggles. In good times we go to give thanks and praise for our many blessings and to encourage others who may have challenges.
    The best way to know how we feel or why we do or don’t is to simply ask us.
    No pressure, no diamonds—Thomas Carlysle

  • allforjoy

    A little more…
    I grew up Catholic and was in Mass 6 days a week for years. I studied religion 5 days a week for 7 years. As an adult however, I felt that I was missing something. I was later a member of a Unity church for 20 years.
    The paradigm for African American church services is shifting. I’m now a member of the fastest growing African American church in the nation. Triumph Church has Baptist theology but a refreshing and current approach to worship. We are a multi-site church with services every Sunday in 3 locations. My Pastor preaches at every location, every Sunday. The multi-site concept gives members that “church home” feeling instead of the anonymity of being herded into a mega church building. We have a wonderful, substantive worship service that lasts about one hour and fifteen minutes. Even after a 30 minute drive to the burbs, I’m usually home by 1:30. Not very stereotypical, but it really works for us.
    Peace, love and blessings to all!
    I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details.—Albert Einstein

  • cknuck

    It is a little simple minded and short sighted to think African Americans are all Baptist or AME and to think that the slave mentality drives us to worship. If you don’t know what we find in worship or why we are so faithful then you just don’t know but when people attempt to define us they often just end us showing reasons why they are prejudice even when they claim to be liberal.
    I am offended by the title of the article “Religiosity,” I mean really God forbid if we were spiritual. If you still think (and from the language here you do) we are a simple minded easily influenced all the same lacking diversity primal race then pull your head out of where ever it is and get to know us. It seems most have just as much faith in polls as we are reported to have in “religion.”

  • nnmns

    Well cknuck I talked about slave days because clearly a lot of people do what their parents taught them to do who were, in turn, doing what their parents taught them to do, and so forth. But you seem to take every opportunity to talk about liberals as prejudiced.
    Actually anyone can talk about why they do or don’t go to church but I think whites have no more expertise than anyone else about why their fellow whites go less, and similarly for blacks or chinese or etc. People who study such things may have some of the needed expertise.
    And finally some church goers seem to me to be among the least spiritual folks around. Notice I said “some”. It’s definitely not the same thing and the headline was accurate.

  • cknuck

    nnmns for a person who has no confidence in things spiritual it must be difficult for you too maintain such a position of expertise. Lot’s of people claim the lock on spirituality they’ve got it and others could not possibly have it and at the same time religiosity runs deep in many kinds of folk, even in atheist. I often wonder if people who make such claims of separation between the religious experience and spirituality really have a clue or they just repeat what they have heard which is just about as religious as it gets.
    Although slavery did victimize my heritage my parents certainly were no more slaves than I. People on the outside of that have no more idea of what they spout about it than people who did not live holocausts, or attempts of genocide, especially the shallow who think they can causality sum up the total experience of such horrible acts because they are so smart. I often hear of people who say they were in the south and saw the atrocities so they understand when in truth if they were not a part of the solution they were part of the problem and they definitely shared on some level in agreement with the people who carried out the persecution.
    The prejudice I have observed in liberals is a real thing and it is understandable to me that liberals would be blind to it, hide it and accuse others; that certainly does not make it less real.

  • cknuck

    by the way when I do comment on liberals I am not including the very hardcore fundamental atheist who are very conservative in their religiosity, I am mostly referring to the middle of the road so-called Christians, who are every bit as high and mighty as the extreme so-called conservative Christians.

  • nnmns

    cknuck, read. I never said your parents were slaves. I didn’t even say they lived under Jim Crow conditions but likely their parents did and perhaps were more likely to go to church because their conditions were so miserable other places, and if so they were encouraged to teach their kids to go to church, who then taught you. My speculation is that sort of thing happened in a lot of black families.

  • cknuck

    nnmns don’t speculate, don’t put your faith in polls or other people’s opinions about Blacks, get to know some of us. Not know one Black person and base your opinion about all through one or even a few but get to know some folk you share the planet with.

  • Confessoressa

    Cknuck…I think you forgot to add “period” that time.

  • cknuck

    just keep thinking confess, just keep thinking

  • Henrietta22

    Allforjoy, thanks for your posts. You agree with nnmns in as much as the beginnings of why black people found such joy in Church, in many cases it helped them live in a slave condition in the southeran states before the civil war. God gives rest and peace to the believers. You must not think all of us haven’t had and have good friends who are black. Not so.
    Ck, we didn’t know you were psychic, how could you possibly know without a doubt that nnmns doesn’t know and understand people of other races? Nnmns lives very well with the people on this planet from what I gather in his posts.

  • cknuck

    H22 if you think I cannot read post well enough to know people’s position including yours and I would have to be psyhic to recognize limited exposure to other cultures then you need to wake up.

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