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

By Arthur Huff Fauset | Go to book overview

X
THE NEGRO AND HIS RELIGION

THE “RELIGIOSITY” OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO

THE religiosity of the Negro often is taken for granted. Not only is this a popular opinion, but important social scientists intimate and even emphasize the fact.

To take two outstanding examples, there is the sociologist, Robert E. Park, who states,

I assume … the reason the Negro so readily and eagerly took over from the white man his heaven and his apocalyptic visions was because these materials met the demands of his peculiar racial temperament [italics mine]…1

Herskovits, the anthropologist, has been quoted above as stating:

Underlying the life of the American Negro is a deep religious bent [italics mine] that is but the manifestation here of a similar drive that, everywhere in Negro societies, makes the supernatural a major focus of interest. The tenability of this position is apparent when it is considered how, in an age marked by skepticism, the Negro has held fast to belief….

According to the same author, because religion is such a controlling factor in the life of the average Negro,

everywhere compensation in terms of the supernatural is … immediately acceptable to this underprivileged folk, and causes them, in contrast to other underprivileged groups elsewhere in the world, to turn to religion rather than to political action or other outlets for their frustration.2

The inference to be drawn from such opinions is that there is something in the Negro amounting almost to an inner compulsion which drives him into religious channels. Some facts and figures on the relation of the American Negro to his church, as compared with the relation of white people to their churches, might be suggestive in this connection.

1 Park, op. cit., p. 128

2 Herskovits, Myth of the Negro Past, p. 207.

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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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