Wednesday, February 04, 2009

God Has Richly Endowed Them

In honor of Black History Month, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has some interesting data on the religiosity of African Americans:

"The Landscape Survey also finds that nearly eight-in-ten African-Americans (79%) say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56% among all U.S. adults. In fact, even a large majority (72%) of African-Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular faith say religion plays at least a somewhat important role in their lives; nearly half (45%) of unaffiliated African-Americans say religion is very important in their lives, roughly three times the percentage who says this among the religiously unaffiliated population overall (16%). Indeed, on this measure, unaffiliated African-Americans more closely resemble the overall population of Catholics (56% say religion is very important) and mainline Protestants (52%).

More from the Pew Forum

Graphic: African-Americans and Religion
Event: Religion & Race: A Historical and Contemporary Perspective
Religious Profile: Barack Obama
U.S. Religious Landscape Survey: Portraits of Religious Traditions

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Additionally, several measures illustrate the distinctiveness of the black community when it comes to religious practices and beliefs. More than half of African-Americans (53%) report attending religious services at least once a week, more than three-in-four (76%) say they pray on at least a daily basis and nearly nine-in-ten (88%) indicate they are absolutely certain that God exists. On each of these measures, African-Americans stand out as the most religiously committed racial or ethnic group in the nation. (emphasis mine) Even those African-Americans who are unaffiliated with any religious group pray nearly as often as the overall population of mainline Protestants (48% of unaffiliated African-Americans pray daily vs. 53% of all mainline Protestants). And unaffiliated African-Americans are about as likely to believe in God with absolute certainty (70%) as are mainline Protestants (73%) and Catholics (72%) overall." (Read the whole thing here)

"The qualities of heart so richly possessed by the [African American] are much needed in the world today-their great capacity for faith, their loyalty and devotion to their religion when once they believe, their purity of heart. God has richly endowed them, and their great contribution to the Cause is much needed..." (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 532)


  1. African Americans have contributed a great deal to the spiritual heritage of humanity - songs stand out to me. Out of the struggle of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement, our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers created beauty.

    On the other hand, I talked to an African American friend recently who mentioned to me that her church growing up emphasized worship, and that she was always interested in an intellectual perspective on the text of the Bible. Phillipe, are there data on what draws people to religion? For example, intellectual discussion of rules and principles, devotional worship, social community, etc.

  2. Allison I would imagine that there is data on those points and I would recommend reading the Religious Landscape Survey in its entirety to see if it is in there. I'll be consulted it for a research project I'm working on.

  3. How are you Phillipe- this is such an interesting blog, well done!