Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, writing at Ebony, breaks down the relationship between more than 78 percent of African Americans and their religion.
This Easter, over two billion Christians around the world will celebrate “the Resurrection of Christ,” and a large percentage of them will be Black. According to a 2007 Pew Report, 78% of Blacks in America identify as Protestant while a 2011 report by Pew notes that nearly 24% of Christians live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Christianity’s explosion across Africa led many to call for the Vatican to select a successor to Pope Benedict from the Continent with Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson among the suggested shortlist. This said, many think of Christianity as “the White man’s religion.”
The Christian faith occupies a complicated, often racialized place in the history of Blacks all over the globe because of how it was abused by White colonists and slave traders to subjugate Blacks. “Christianity was a double-edged sword [for African-Americans],” says Dr. Lawrence H. Mamiya, Professor of Religion and Africana Studies at Vassar College and co-author of The Black Church in the African American Experience.
“On the one hand, well, Whites wanted to use Christianity to make slaves docile and obedient. [On the other hand,] the Africans adapted Christianity for their survival and liberation.”
But long before colonialism and slavery, Africans were practicing Christianity. “We know that Christianity has had a long history in Africa itself, pre-dating any kind of European influence,” Mamiya says.
Read Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond’s entire piece at Ebony.
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