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Although there are some elite churches, generally the Baptists appeal to poorer women. Baptist churches are locally controlled by the congregation, and selected their own ministers. They choose local men — often quite young — with a reputation for religiosity, preaching skill, and ability to touch the deepest emotions of the congregations. Few were well-educated until the mid-twentieth century, when Bible Colleges became common. Until the late twentieth century, few of them were paid; most were farmers or had other employment.

They became spokesman for their communities, and were among the few Blacks in the South allowed to vote in Jim Crow days before Its founders, including Elias Camp Morris, stressed the preaching of the gospel as an answer to the shortcomings of a segregated church. The civil rights movement of the s and s was highly controversial in many black churches, where the minister preached spiritual salvation rather than political activism. The National Baptist Convention became deeply split. Its autocratic leader, Rev. Jackson had supported the Montgomery bus boycott of , but by he told his denomination they should not become involved in civil rights activism.

Jackson was based in Chicago and was a close ally of Mayor Richard J. In the end, King led his activists out of the National Baptist Convention into their own rival group, the Progressive National Baptist Convention , which supported the extensive activism of the King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

A Christian America? What History Shows | MADE IN AMERICA

Giggie finds that Black Methodists and Baptists sought middle class respectability. In sharp contrast the new Pentecostal and Holiness movements pursued sanctification, based on a sudden religious experience that could empower people to avoid sin, and recover good health.

These groups stressed the role of the direct witness of the Holy Spirit, and emphasized the traditional emotionalism of black worship. Seymour , a black preacher, traveled to Los Angeles where his preaching sparked the three-year-long Azusa Street Revival in Worship at the racially integrated Azusa Mission featured an absence of any order of service. People preached and testified as moved by the Spirit, spoke and sung in tongues, and fell in the Spirit. The revival attracted both religious and secular media attention, and thousands of visitors flocked to the mission, carrying the "fire" back to their home churches.

The crowds of blacks and whites worshiping together at Seymour's Azusa Street Mission set the tone for much of the early Pentecostal movement.


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Pentecostals defied social, cultural and political norms of the time that called for racial segregation and Jim Crow. These groups, especially in the Jim Crow South were under great pressure to conform to segregation. Though it never entirely disappeared, interracial worship within Pentecostalism would not reemerge as a widespread practice until after the Civil Rights Movement.

The Holiness Movement emerged from the Methodist Church in the late 19th century. It emphasized " Christian perfection " — the belief that it is possible to live free of voluntary sin, and particularly by the belief that this may be accomplished instantaneously through a second work of grace. The syncretist religion Louisiana Voodoo has traditionally been practiced by Creoles of color , while hoodoo is a system of beliefs and rituals historically associated with Gullah and Black Seminoles.

Both religions have very few followers today. During the twentieth century, many African Americans seeking to reconnect with their African heritage converted to Islam, mainly through the influence of black nationalist groups that preached with distinctive Islamic practices; including the Moorish Science Temple of America, and the largest organization, the Nation of Islam, founded in the s, which attracted at least 20, people by , prominent members included activist Malcolm X and boxer Muhammad Ali. Malcolm X is considered the first person to start the movement among African Americans towards mainstream Sunni Islam , after he left the Nation and made the pilgrimage to Mecca and changed his name to el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.

In , Warith Deen Mohammed , the son of Elijah Muhammad took control of the Nation after his father's death and guided the majority of its members to orthodox Sunni Islam. Muslim population, the majority of Black Muslims are Sunni or orthodox Muslims. African-American Jews belong to each of the major American Jewish denominations — Orthodox , Conservative , Reform —and to the smaller movements as well. Like their white Jewish counterparts, there are also African-American Jewish secularists and Jews who may rarely or never take part in religious practices.

Black Hebrews adhere in varying degrees to the religious beliefs and practices of both Christianity and Judaism.

This Great Struggle: African-American Churches in Rock Springs

They are not recognized as Jews by the greater Jewish community. Many choose to identify as Hebrew Israelites or Black Hebrews rather than as Jews to indicate their claimed historic connections. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about religious practices of African Americans in the United States.

A Christian America? What History Shows

For religious practices elsewhere in the Americas, see Afro-American religion. Black church Black theology Nation of Islam. African Methodist Episcopal Church. African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Pentecostalism and Holiness movement. Retrieved 17 April Bly, "In Pursuit of Letters: Frey, "The Visible Church: Raboteau, Slave Religion pp. Hutson, Religion and the founding of the American Republic p. Three Centuries of Black Baptists in Alabama pp. Mays, The Negro's God p.

The Religious Reconstruction of the South, — The Way it was in the South: He prayed, "Lord, what would you have me do? The first meeting was set for September three weeks before the Bank Panic of Six attended the first week, 20 the next, then 40, then they switched to daily meetings. Before long all the space was taken, and other churches also began to open up for businessmen's prayer meetings.

Sometimes called The Great Prayer Meeting Revival , an estimated 1,, people were added to America's church rolls, and as many as 1,, of the 4,, existing church members also converted. The Civil War Revival, The bitter dispute over slavery thrust our nation into the deadliest war we've ever experienced. By the end, , Americans lay dead--one out of every 50 of the 31,, people counted in the census.

At the start of the Civil War in , it seemed as though the soldiers for both sides had left their Christianity at home and gone morally berserk. By , the tide turned, first among the Confederate forces. An estimated , soldiers were converted, evenly divided between the Southern and Northern Armies. The Urban Revivals, Young businessman Dwight L.

Moody participated in the Great Revival of as it swept Chicago. In , Moody returned home and began revivals in America's biggest cities. Hundreds of thousands were converted and millions were inspired by the greatest soul winner of his generation. Darwinism and higher criticism were gaining traction, and Moody became the first evangelist to come under attack--accused of making religion the opiate of the masses. By the turn of the twentieth century, the mood of the country was changing. Outside the church, it was the era of radio, movies, and the "Jazz Age.

When that era came to an abrupt end on October 29, , followed by the Great Depression, there was surprisingly little interest in spiritual revival. The Revivals of Word of the Welsh Revival of spread to Welsh-speaking settlers in Pennsylvania in late and revival broke out.

The 1950s – Powerful Years for Religion

The Azusa Street Revival, In , William J. Seymour , an African-American Holiness pastor blind in one eye, went to Los Angeles to candidate for a pastoral job. But after he preached, he was locked out of the second service! He began prayer meetings in a nearby home and the Spirit of God, which they called "the second blessing," fell after many months of concerted prayer. Eventually, the interracial crowds became so large they acquired a dilapidated Methodist church at Azusa Street where daily meetings continued for three years.


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The resulting Pentecostal Movement and the later Charismatic Movement , which both exploded worldwide in the twentieth century both trace their roots to this revival. Large numbers of evangelicals also experienced revival resulting in many conversions. It was at this time that a great generation of Christian leaders emerged. Bill Bright began Campus Crusade for Christ.

In , Billy Graham's distinguished career, which popularized evangelical Christianity for a new generation, exploded on the scene during his Los Angeles crusade sponsored by the Christian Businessmen's Committee. Almanacs sold briskly in part because they provided guides to the occult. It took a lot of hard missionary work to displace magic with Christ. The colonial elites, some of whom became Founding Fathers, themselves tended to be vaguely Christian. Evangelical movements in the late 18 th and early 19 th centuries sent preachers out to Christianize the unorganized settlers.

They competed against religious ignorance, but also against each other and the established churches. Later, over the course of the nineteenth century, middle-class Americans in great numbers formed and joined churches and by the twentieth century, they had made church-going a norm. Importantly, it was around , give or take a generation, that religious fundamentalism took form in reaction to the growing role of science. Those years were the peak of church membership and attendance in American history — much higher than in Early America — but not that much higher than today.

We err if we project that s culture back to the early days of America. And we underestimate the accomplishment of legions of traveling ministers who eventually, rural hollow by rural hollow, Christianized America. There has been debate over how accurate the earliest numbers are, but they are in the ballpark. The consensus among historians of religion is that the trend was generally toward increasing religious involvement into the 20th century. If the Texas School Board folks want to justify a more Christian — especially, Protestant — definition of America, they have grounds to do so perhaps the subject of later post.