Monday, October 29, 2012

Atheists Behind the Black Church Veil

By Eric Redmond

Statistics on the religious beliefs of African Americans are part of Western cultural literacy. Many are familiar with the findings that reveal African Americans to be among the most religious ethnic group in America, largely holding a particular Christian expression of belief. In 2009, the Barna Group found that "blacks were the group most likely to be born again Christians (59 percent, compared to a national average of 46 percent) and were the ethnic segment most likely to consider themselves to be Christian (92 percent did so, versus 85 percent nationally)."

Similarly, in 2011, Barna examined 15 years of religious beliefs among Americans and found that African Americans are "the segment that possesses beliefs most likely to align with those taught in the Bible." Specifically, African Americans were more likely than other segments to say that they believe that God is "the all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfect Creator of the universe who still rules the world today," and were the most likely to engage in church-centric activities, and to read the Bible other than at church events during a typical week. According to Barna's research, African Americans are only half as likely as either whites or Hispanics to be unchurched. Therefore, the announcement of the report justifiably noted, "From the earliest days of America's history, a deep-rooted spirituality has been one of the hallmarks of the black population in the country. . . [and] the passage of time has not diminished the importance of faith in the lives of African Americans.