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date: 01 October 2020

Black Church, Thelocked

Reference to the more than 65,000 Christian churches, which have a predominance of African American members and black clerical leadership; the Black Church has served as a major institutional foundation of African American spiritual and community life.
  • Lawrence H. Mamiya


The Black Church emerged from the period of slavery as the most stable and dominant institutional sphere in black communities in the United States. This centrality of religion was achieved through a gradual historical process that involved several factors. First, prior to and during the rise of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the traditional worldviews and societies of the Africans themselves were permeated by religion, with no division between sacred and secular, especially between religion and politics. The Africans who were brought as slaves to the New World came as human beings, already socialized in their own African traditions and values. It is estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of the slaves came from Muslim-dominated parts of Africa or areas that were undergoing the transition to Islam.

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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