Why Black Churches Are Thriving While America’s Christianity Is Declining
In the United States, Christianity remains to be the most popular religion among citizens. However, over the years, the number of people who not only identify as Christian, but have any religious affiliation at all has greatly declined.
For Christianity specifically, in just eight years, the number of Christians in America has decreased by over 8 percent. These numbers are true across the board until the factor of ethnicity is added to the equation. Based on data collected by Pew Research, black churches are still thriving. Here’s why.
First, for most black Americans, church is more cultural than anything else. While religion does serve as the basis of the culture, the black church is often the place where blacks socialize, gather politically and even for psychological counseling. Unlike many other churches where religious leaders many tell members of its congregation to seek medical help, the black church always says “look to God.” This is all only a small part of a much bigger picture.
The study by Pew Research specifically showed that black churches have not only thrived in the midst of a religious decline in America, but religious affiliations for Christian denominations that are predominantly black have actually increased. A data chart for Pew shows that Baptist churches host 15 million Black Americans and Pentecostal churches which also account for a large number of black American affiliates increase between 2007 and 2014.
The second cause of prosperity in black churches is the increase in conflict in the black American community. Since 2007, when black churches were also experiencing a semi-decline, there have been many hate crimes, including police killings of unarmed blacks and the birth of new civil rights movements such as Black Lives Matter. In 2014 specifically, there was a large surge in black church attendance because confused and distraught blacks were taking their problems to the place that they were always taught to take them.
As a whole, the black community accounts for 70 percent of the Christians in the United States, according to PBS. Basically, blacks are keeping the faith alive in America, where is would have otherwise died due to the increase is 3 percent increase in Atheism and the growing popularity of Judaism.
It has been stated that black churches survive because black Americans are predominantly poor and therefore need God more than other races. This does hold up when the fact the black churches were in decline in 2006-2008 is brought into consideration. Instead, it is more likely that black churches thrive because of tradition; because out of everything that belonged to the people over the years (soul music, jazz music, etc.) church is something that no one else wants to take away. More importantly, the outreach tactics of black churches have the tendency to go above and beyond others.
Only in the black American culture is it considered socially acceptable to tell strangers that they “need Jesus.” Where other denominations have lost Millennials, black churches have attracted them by not appealing to the Christian tradition of seniority.
In other words, black churches have more young adult leaders than any other denomination. Based on the facts, its safe to say Christianity will live on in Black America and therefore live on in the country as a whole.
[Feature Image via Getty Images/Credit: Mike Spring Body Image/Credit:Richard Koek]