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


© 2004 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Published in Association with Program for Research on Black Americans

"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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