Religion in the Lives of African Americans


Religion in the Lives of African Americans

Religion in the Lives of African Americans

The religious faith of African Americans has many avenues of expression.  Consequently, there has been a long-standing interest in the nature, patterns, and functions of religion in the lives of this particular ethnic group.  African American religious life, in all its forms, is a vibrant, creative, resourceful testament to the power of faith to uplift and sustain in the face of prejudice, discrimination, and exclusion.

 Religion in the Lives of African Americans:  Social, Psychological, and Health Perspectives examines many broad issues including the structure and sociodemographic patterns of religious involvement; the relationship between religion and physical and mental health and well-being; the impact of church support and the use of ministers for personal issues; and the role of religion within specific subgroups of the African American population such as women and the elderly.  Authors Robert Joseph Taylor, Linda M. Chatters, and Jeff Levin reflect upon current empirical research and derive conclusions from several wide-ranging national surveys, as well as a focus group study of religion and coping.

Features and Benefits:

  • Empirical. Incorporates findings from a total of eight national surveys that contain representative cross-section samples of the adult Black population living in the continental U.S.  Additionally, a focus group study, conducted by the Program for Research on Black Americans at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, provides a rich source of qualitative information about the nature and functions of religion.
  • Interdisciplinary. Although the primary points of view are sociological and psychological, the perspectives represented by the authors transcend disciplinary bounds.
  • Pedagogical.  Includes important data sources, tables, recommendations for further reading and resources, end of chapter summaries, and implications for future research that enhance student comprehension.

Recommended for students taking courses in racial and ethnic studies, multicultural and minority studies, black studies, religious studies, psychology, sociology, human development and family studies, gerontology, social work, public health, and nursing.

From the Foreword by James S. Jackson, Ph.D.,
Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology,
Director, Program for Research on Black Americans,
Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research,
Director, Center for Afro-American and African Studies,
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

“The publication of Religion in the Lives of African Americans:  Social, Psychological, and Health Perspectives reflects the fruition of several areas of inquiry that began close to 20 years ago. . . .  [O]ver the course of their careers, Taylor, Chatters, and Levin have placed a premium on using their research and writings to engage, encourage, and mentor other scholars and students interested in the empirical investigation of religion and its effects on social, psychological, and health outcomes.  Their published work has been cited and read extensively by researchers, students, and clergy who are committed to understanding the nature and meaning of religion for African Americans.  The value of the present volume will be evident in its ability to reach a diverse audience of researchers, practitioners, and students in the social and behavioral science disciplines, the health and social welfare professions, graduate seminary programs, and members of the clergy.  For each of these groups, this book will provide them with the clear and indisputable message that religion and its effects on social, psychological, and health factors profoundly influence the individual and family lives of African Americans.”


Praise for Religion in the Lives of African Americans:


“This is an outstanding book that provides the reader with an in-depth understanding of religion in the lives of African Americans.  Both historical and empirical research findings provide a context for understanding religion in the lives of African Americans.  Most importantly, this book highlights the role religion plays in affecting emotional and physical health processes and outcomes among African Americans.  The contributions of this book to the discussion of religion in the social and behavioral sciences will last for years!”

Peggye Dilworth-Anderson, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“This is a blockbuster of a book on black religion.  Comprehensive, systematic, analytic, and very well written, it sets a new high water mark in the social scientific study of religion and life in the African American Community.  It will be especially helpful in the teaching of undergraduate and graduate courses in African American history and culture.”
Andrew Billingsley, Ph.D., University of South Carolina

“Taylor, Chatters, and Levin have produced an excellent study on a neglected topic.  The authors use a multidimensional framework to examine both quantitative data from several large-scale surveys of African American life and qualitative interviews from 13 focus groups.  The book has helpful appendixes on data used, references, and an extensive bibliography. Highly Recommended.”
L.H. Mamiya, Ph.D., in Choice

“A work of definitive scholarship, the primary perspectives are sociological and psychological, yet transcend those disciplinary boundaries in evaluating the nature and functions of religion within black families and the black community.  Informed and informative . . . .  Religion in the Lives of African Americans is especially recommended as a seminal contribution to Black Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists, as well as Contemporary American Religious and Cultural Studies.  This is particularly rewarding reading for students of psychology, sociology, human development, social work, public health as well.”
Midwest Book Review

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Table of Contents

Foreword by James S. Jackson, Ph.D.

Chapter 1. Introduction


Chapter 2. African American Religious Participation

Chapter 3. The Frequency and Importance of Prayer


Chapter 4. Prayer as a Source of Coping

Chapter 5. Use of Ministers for Personal Problems

Chapter 6. Church Members as Sources of Informal Social Support

Chapter 7. Negative Interaction among Church Members


Chapter 8. Impact of Religion on Physical Health

Chapter 9. Impact of Religion on Mental Health and Well-Being

Chapter 10. Conclusions and Implications

Appendix A. Data Sources

Appendix B. Multivariate Tables

Recommended Reading and Resource Guide

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