Saturday, August 18, 2007

Diaspora Worship: African American Christianity

I've been thinking about faith a lot lately. Below is a paragraph I once did on the history of Christianity and African America. Thoughts?

(Tremaine Combs I'm calling you out....)

"Large numbers of free and enslaved blacks in the United States began to convert to Christianity in the first half of the nineteenth century because of the growth of a new black population, native-born and experiencing new oppressions, and because of this with new needs not completely served by African belief-systems or secular practices. For an increasingly native-born, intergenerational slave and free population in the throes of the Second Middle Passage in the South and experiencing ever mounting racial repression in the North, Christianity provided both an empowering philosophical explanation of their history of enslavement and racial oppression and an opportunity to improve their living conditions. But people of African descent did not convert uncritically and nor was it simply in tandem with the spread of evangelicalism within white society. Increasingly over the first thirty years of the nineteenth century, free and enslaved created and then converted to a particular strain of Afro-Protestantism that designated the planter as pharaoh, Anglo-America as Egypt-land, and elevated black men and women to the status of God’s chosen people. This African-based evangelicalism was empowering, political, holistic, and divisive but in its basic tenets it never lost sight of the peculiar status of blacks in the United States. It also continued to place significance—both positive and negative—on African history, memory and heritage in relation to that status."

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