Black Gods of the Metropolis: Negro Religious Cults of the Urban North

By Arthur Huff Fauset | Go to book overview

I
NEGRO RELIGIOUS CULTS IN THE
URBAN NORTH

THE EMERGENCE OF THE NEGRO CULT

HARLEM is not the only “Negro city within a city.” Philadelphia and Chicago both have Negro populations which exceed the total figures for such cities as Omaha and Richmond. Detroit and Cleveland are not far behind.

Most of the whites in these municipalities find reasons for bypassing the Negro districts. They see black folk only at a distance. Their genuine knowledge of these people is quite remote.

It is assumed, of course, that the lives of Negroes correspond to a pattern long made familiar and embellished in story and in song. They are said to be a carefree, happy-go-lucky folk, given to laughing and drinking, who resolve such troubles as they have in profound and seemingly uninterrupted experiences of religious emotionalism. Among many people who do not know Negroes very well, there is a general assumption that they are as predisposed toward the appeal of religion as fish are to water.

We shall leave to others a consideration of those questions involved in the general everyday living experiences of these Negro folk and confine ourselves to this single religious aspect. For the most part we shall be interested in only one phase of the religious life, namely, the influence of the so-called religious cult in the lives of some Negroes who inhabit certain sections of our large northern cities.

Anyone passing through one of these districts, especially at night, becomes aware of this influence. The signs are unmistakably present: frequently a store-front church, probably with improvised sign; the sound of tambourines, drums, wind and stringed instruments; the noise of unrestrained singing and shouting; and the dancing silhouettes. Sometimes the meeting place is more pretentious, and on occasion the ritual may be relatively subdued. The underlying pattern is fairly uniform, however, and it requires more than a few casual observations to detect

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Black Gods of the Metropolis: Negro Religious Cults of the Urban North
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Introduction xvii
  • Author’s Note to the Paperback Edition xxiii
  • I - Negro Religious Cults in the Urban North 1
  • II - Mt. Sinai Holy Church of America, Inc 13
  • III - United House of Prayer for All People 22
  • IV - Church of God (Black Jews) 31
  • V - Moorish Science Temple of America 41
  • VI - Father Divine Peace Mission Movement 52
  • VII - Comparative Study 68
  • VIII - Why the Cults Attract 76
  • IX - The Cult as a Functional Institution 87
  • X - The Negro and His Religion 96
  • XI - Summary of Findings 107
  • Appendix A - Selected Case Materials 111
  • Bibliography 123
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