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Religion in the Lives of African Americans
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Religion in the Lives of African Americans
Social, Psychological, and Health Perspectives


August 2003 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
"This is an outstanding book that provides the reader with an in-depth understanding of religion in the lives of African Americans. Both historical and empirical research findings provide a context for understanding religion in the lives of African Americans. Most importantly, this book highlights the role religion plays in affecting emotional and physical health processes and outcomes among African Americans. The contributions of this book to the discussion of religion in the social and behavioral sciences will last for years!"

                 --Peggye Dilworth-Anderson, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"This is a blockbuster of a book on black religion. Comprehensive, systematic, analytic, and very well written, it sets a new high water mark in the social scientific study of religion and life in the African American Community. It will be especially helpful in the teaching of undergraduate and graduate courses in African American history and culture."

                                                            --Andrew Billingsley, University of South Carolina

The religious faith of African Americans has many avenues of expression. Consequently, there has been a long-standing interest in the nature, patterns, and functions of religion in the lives of this particular ethnic group. African American religious life, in all its forms, is a vibrant, creative, resourceful testament to the power of faith to uplift and sustain in the face of prejudice, discrimination, and exclusion.

Religion in the Lives of African Americans: Social, Psychological, and Health Perspectives examines many broad issues including the structure and sociodemographic patterns of religious involvement; the relationship between religion and physical and mental health and well-being; the impact of church support and the use of ministers for personal issues; and the role of religion within specific subgroups of the African American population such as women and the elderly. Authors Robert Joseph Taylor, Linda M. Chatters, and Jeff Levin reflect upon current empirical research and derive conclusions from several wide-ranging national surveys, as well as a focus group study of religion and coping.

Features and Benefits:
  • Empirical. Incorporates findings from a total of eight national surveys that contain representative cross-section samples of the adult Black population living in the continental U.S. Additionally, a focus group study conducted by the Program for Research on Black Americans at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, provides a rich source of qualitative information about the nature and functions of religion.
  • Interdisciplinary. Although the primary points of view are sociological and psychological, the perspectives represented by the authors transcend disciplinary bounds.
  • Pedagogical. Includes important data sources, tables, recommendations for further reading and resources, end of chapter summaries, and implications for future research that enhance student comprehension.
Recommended for students taking courses in racial and ethnic studies, multicultural and minority studies, black studies, religious studies, psychology, sociology, human development and family studies, gerontology, social work, public health, and nursing.

James S. Jackson
Foreword
 
Acknowledgments
 
1. Introduction
Goals for the Book

 
Data Sources

 
Format and Scope of the Volume

 
 
Part I: Patterns of Religion
 
2. African American Religious Participation
Overview of Chapter

 
The Interface Between Religiosity and Spirituality

 
Models of Religious Involvement in Black Churches

 
Socio-Historical Role of the Church

 
Religious Denomination

 
Denominational Switching

 
Generational Differences in Religious Denomination

 
Conceptualization and Measurement of Religious Involvement

 
Structural Determinants of Religious Involvement

 
Profile of Religious Participation

 
Black-White Differences

 
Gender Differences

 
Age Differences

 
Marital Status Differences

 
Education and Income Differences

 
Regional and Urban-Rural Differences

 
Denominational Differences in Religious Participation

 
Physical Health Differences

 
Religious Participation Among Elderly Blacks

 
Religious Participation Among Blacks Adolescents

 
Religious Noninvolvement

 
Religious Artifacts

 
Religious Identity

 
Focus Group Findings

 
Prayer

 
Reading Religious Materials

 
Religious Programming

 
Meditation

 
Religious Participation in the Context of Work

 
Living in a Christ-Like Manner

 
Volunteerism as a Form of Religious Participation

 
Organized Religious Activities

 
Focus Group Summary

 
Chapter Summary and Conclusion

 
 
3. The Frequency and Importance of Prayer
Research on Prayer

 
Research on Prayer Among Black Americans

 
Requests for Prayer

 
Focus Group Findings

 
Communication and Relationship With God

 
God as Best Friend

 
Meditation and Prayer

 
Prayers of Thanksgiving

 
Prayers of Petition

 
Prayer as Intercession

 
Writing Down One's Prayers

 
The Importance of Prayer

 
The Power of Prayer

 
Focus Group Summary

 
Chapter Summary and Conclusion

 
 
Part II: Functions of Religion
 
4. Prayer as a Source of Coping
Coping With Personal Problems

 
Prayer and Coping With Life Problems

 
Religious Coping and Caregiving

 
Religious Coping and Health and Illness

 
Harmful Effects of Religious Coping

 
Prayer and Coping Among Black Americans

 
Focus Group Findings

 
Prayer Is an Ongoing Coping Activity

 
Interpersonal Conflicts on the Job

 
Prayer Gives Strength, Wisdom, and Guidance

 
Prayer Reduces Stress

 
Spiritual Component of Prayer

 
Loving Your Enemies/Forgiveness

 
Power of Prayer

 
Focus Group Summary

 
Chapter Summary and Conclusion

 
 
5. Use of Ministers for Personal Problems
Clergy and Formal Support Systems

 
Clergy as a Coping Resource

 
Survey Data on the Use of Ministers

 
Focus Group Findings

 
Patterns and Circumstances of Using Ministers

 
Deciding to Forgo Clergy Help

 
Choosing to Disclose Difficult Problems

 
Focus Group Summary

 
Chapter Summary and Conclusion

 
 
6. Church Members as a Source of Social Support
Church-Based Informal Social Support

 
Family and Church Support

 
Profile of the Receipt of Support From Church Members

 
Focus Group Findings

 
Church Members Provide Instrumental and Emotional Support

 
Importance of Building Relationships With Church Members

 
Importance of Having Church Members Provide Support

 
Similarity Between Church Members and Family Members

 
Formal Programs in the Church

 
Reciprocal Relationships

 
Giving Help to Church Members

 
Difficulty in Giving and Receiving Help

 
Focus Group Summary

 
Chapter Summary and Conclusion

 
 
7. Negative Interaction Among Church Members
Research on Negative Interaction

 
Negative Interaction Among African Americans

 
Negative Interaction Among Church Members

 
Survey Findings on Negative Interaction Among Church Members

 
Focus Group Findings

 
Church Members, Like Family Members, Have Conflict

 
Gossip

 
Avoiding Gossip

 
Generational Differences

 
Conflict Over Special Programs and Board Meetings

 
Losing Church Members Because of Conflict

 
Avoiding Conflict

 
Feeling Unwelcome

 
Helping People Feel Welcome

 
Other Concerns

 
Problems in Church Do Not Inhibit Attendance and Participation

 
Focus Group Summary

 
Chapter Summary and Conclusion

 
 
Part III: Effects of Religion
 
8. Impact of Religion on Physical Health
Research on Religion and Health

 
Religion and Health in African Americans

 
Religion and Morbidity in Study Samples of Whites and Blacks

 
Religion and Morbidity in African American Study Samples

 
Religion and Mortality in African Americans

 
Religion, Race, and Health: Theoretical Considerations

 
 
9. Impact of Religion on Mental Health and Well-Being
Religion and Mental Health: Clinical and Population-Based Research

 
Religion, Aging, and Psychological Well-Being

 
Religion, Mental Health, and Well-Being in African Americans

 
Studies in Which Effects of Race Are Controlled

 
Religion and Mental-Health Outcomes

 
Religion and Psychological Well-Being

 
Studies That Investigate Racial Differences

 
African American Study Samples

 
Religion and Depressive Symptoms

 
Religion and Positive Well-Being

 
Religion, Race, and Mental Health: Directions for Future Research

 
 
10. Conclusions and Implications
Chapter Review and Implications

 
Current Research Projects

 
 
Appendix A: Data Sources
 
Appendix B: Multivariate Tables
 
Recommended Reading and Resource Guide
 
References
 
Author Index
 
Subject Index
 
About the Authors

"This is a blockbuster of a book on black religion. Comprehensive, systematic, analytic, and very well written, it sets a new high water mark in the social scientific study of religion and life in the African American Community. It will be especially helpful in the teaching of undergraduate and graduate courses in African American history and culture."

Andrew Billingsley
University of South Carolina

"This is an outstanding book that provides the reader with an in-depth understanding of religion in the lives of African Americans. Both historical and empirical research findings provide a context for understanding religion in the lives of African Americans. Most importantly, this book highlights the role religion plays in affecting emotional and physical health processes and outcomes among African Americans. The contributions of this book to the discussion of religion in the social and behavioral sciences will last for years!"

Peggye Dilworth-Anderson, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Taylor, Chatters and Levin have produced an excellent study on a neglected topic. The authors use a multidimensional framework to examine both quantitative data from several large-scale surveys of African American life and qualitative interviews from 13 focus groups. The book has helpful appendixes on data used, references, and an extensive bibliography. Highly Recommended."

L.H. Mamiya
Vassar College
CHOICE
Key features
  • Empirical. Incorporates findings from a total of eight national surveys including most prominently the recently completed National Survey of Black Americans, a representative cross-section sample of the adult Black populations living in the continental U.S. This particular survey was conducted by the Program for Research on Black Americans at the University of Michigan Institute for social Research.
  • Interdisciplinary. Although the primary point of view is social psychological, the perspectives represented by the authors transcend disciplinary bounds.
  • Pedagogical. Includes important data sources, tables, recommendations for further reading and resources, end of chapter summaries, and implications for future research that enhance student comprehension.

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