Religion of black Americans

Religion of black Americans refers to the religious and spiritual practices of African Americans. Historians generally agree that the religious life of black Americans "forms the foundation of their community life".[1] Before 1775 there was scattered evidence of organized religion among black people in the Thirteen Colonies. The Methodist and Baptist churches became much more active in the 1780s. Their growth was quite rapid for the next 150 years, until their membership included the majority of black Americans.[citation needed]

Women engaged in praise at a Pentecostal worship service in Chicago, Illinois, 1941
Woman at a Baptist church service in Alabama, July 1972

After Emancipation in 1863, Freedmen organized their own churches, chiefly Baptist, followed by Methodists. Other Protestant denominations, and the Catholic Church, played smaller roles. In the 19th century, the Wesleyan-Holiness movement, which emerged in Methodism, as well as Holiness Pentecostalism in the 20th century were important, and later the Jehovah's Witnesses. The Nation of Islam and el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (also known as Malcolm X) added a Muslim factor in the 20th century. Powerful pastors often played prominent roles in politics, often through their leadership in the American civil rights movement, as typified by Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.[citation needed]

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