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

By Arthur Huff Fauset | Go to book overview

VIII
WHY THE CULTS ATTRACT

EXPLICIT APPEALS

WHAT is there about the cult which draws to it the thousands of adherents from our large northern centers?

As is to be expected, different people are attracted to a cult for different reasons. This fact is reflected in a difference in emphasis in the various cults. But there is one main attraction which stands out in all cults, making a kind of common bond among them: it is the desire to get closer to some supernatural power, be it God, the Holy Spirit, or Allah.

From the testimony of members of the various cults,1 it becomes clear that another compelling factor is relief from physical or mental illness. Race consciousness, or nationalism, is marked in two of the cults, while in the Father Divine Peace Mission the consideration of race and its international implications courses through the entire fabric of belief and practice. To these, of course, must be added the compelling personality of the leader.

These four compulsions, then—the supernatural being, the personality of the leader, relief from physical and mental illness, and race consciousness—appear to be most prominent factors in the respective attractions which these cults have for their members.


SUDDENNESS OF APPEAL

It often happens that the individual is directed unexpectedly to the cult by some dramatic experience, as when an ill person is suddenly and miraculously healed. Such a person will date his advent into the cult from that moment. Thus an oriental member of Father Divine’s Peace Mission testified to me: “My woman was sick with cancer. The doctors had given her up altogether. I went over to Sayville with her to Father Divine’s. He healed her right away. Since then my woman and I have been members.”

This man, when further questioned, referred to Father Divine’s “goodness,” his “greatness,” his wonderful spirit of unity which

1 See Appendix A.

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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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