The Meaning Of Slave Religion Summary

Decent Essays
The author, Curtis J. Evans, argues that African Americans and images of black religion in American culture have been key to the development of American ideals and culture, as well as a reflection of the nation’s failures as a country. Throughout the text, Evans never truly offers any added narrative to the events in history he speaks on, but simply historicizes the burden that has been placed on black religion, and by natural extension, black people. He documents the changes in how black religion was viewed in America and how black America responded to these views.

The book’s first chapter, “The Meaning of Slave Religion”, explores how the conversion of African slaves in the British colonies of North America to Christianity became an
…show more content…
Black religion was no longer regarded as exemplary or special. During a time of growing segregation and violence, some black leaders attempted to counter this perspective seen by whites by embracing the romantic racialist notions that “blacks possessed peculiar gifts.” These gifts being directly connected to the importance of black churches in a time of direct exclusion of blacks from other pieces of society.

Evans’s third chapter, “The Social Sciences and the Professional Discipline of Black Religion”, connected thoughts on black religion on a more professional, study based level. The chapter shows how the social sciences pathologized the religious experiences of black southerners at the turn of the 20th century with new psychology. This psychology offered new interpretations of black religion, based around emotionalism, that provided an ideology for the oppression of blacks in the South. There was a substantial building on the popular theories of white protestants that severed the connection between black religion and the ethics or morality that generally comes with religion by arguing that black religion had no effect on the morality of African Americans and was simply barbaric. By negatively reconstructing the idea of black religion, the social scientists supported widespread claims of the degeneration of blacks and argued that a “naturally criminal and immoral character” was the culprit for the
Get Access