This encyclopedia offers the most comprehensive presentation available on the diversity and richness of religious practices among African Americans, from traditions predating the era of the transatlantic slave trade to contemporary religious movements.
The first Africans to arrive as slaves in the Americas brought with them an array of faiths, including Islam and indigenous African religions, as well as an exposure in some cases to Christian beliefs. Over the past four centuries, these diverse spiritual roots have woven together—with still other faiths adopted and developed along the way—to produce the complex fabric of the contemporary African American religious experience.
Like no previous reference, African American Religious Cultures captures the full scope of African American religious identity, tracing the long history of African American engagement with spiritual practice while exploring the origins and complexities of current religious traditions.
This breakthrough encyclopedia offers alphabetically organized entries on every major spiritual belief system as it has evolved among African American communities, covering its beginnings, development, major doctrinal points, rituals, important figures, and defining moments. In addition, the work illustrates how the social and economic realities of life for African Americans have shaped beliefs across the spectrum of religious cultures.
• Over 80 alphabetically organized entries on religious traditions embraced by African Americans, covering their historical development, doctrines, rituals, and key figures
• Over 50 contributors, each a distinguished scholar familiar with the richness of African American religious life
• Offers broader coverage than other volumes on African American religious cultures, spanning the full range of faiths as they have developed over the past four centuries
• Looks at the current state of African American religion and the impact of economic, political, and social factors on beliefs and practices
• Highlights both major and minor traditions, revealing a number of unexpected comparisons and contrasts