Research Finds That the Church’s Role Is Still Strong in Black Communities, but on Decline Across Races

Decon Willie Easmon leads a group of church members from the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in South Dunnellon in this 2016 file photo. Church attendance and religious education among blacks exceeds those of other races.

The black community is steeped in church and religion.

As we celebrate Black History Month during February, local pastors discussed the importance of religion and its future as church attendance and relevance declines among all ethnic groups.

Blacks in America attend religious services more frequently than do other races, according to the Pew Research Center. Blacks more often look to religion to determine right from wrong, pray more often, and participate in organized religious education more often than other races.

In 2014, the latest year the Pew Research Center conducted its study, 47 percent of black Americans attended church at least once a week — and 36 percent attended at last once or twice a month or a few times a year.

That dwarfs white, Latino and Asian attendance.

During the same year, only 34 percent of whites attended church services at least once a week. As for Latinos, 39 percent reported attending at least once a week and 39 percent a once or twice a month.

As for Asians, only 26 percent attended church at least once a week and 42 percent once or twice a month.

Pastor Doug Alexander, of the New Church Without Walls, says higher church attendance and its role in black community is rooted in black history, slavery and the fight for equality.

“It’s because of struggle,” Alexander said. “Some races have had to pray their way through it.”

Alexander’s church is multicultural.

“I’ve got Spanish. I got all races: black, white. It doesn’t matter,” he said.

His church has about 550 members, he said, “and it’s growing.”

Blacks also reported praying more often.

In 2014, 73 percent said they prayed at least once a day. Only 58 percent of Latinos reported daily prayer; 52 percent for whites, and 42 of Asians.

When it came to determining right from wrong, 43 percent of blacks said they used their religious belief as guidance. The same percent said they used common sense. For whites, only 32 percent used their religion for guidance, 46 percent said common sense. Only 19 percent of Asians used their religion and 46 percent said common sense. When it came to Latinos, 35 percent reported using religion and 39 percent used common sense.

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Source: Christian Headlines