African American Religious Cultures
by Anthony B. Pinn, Editor
September 2009, 739pp, 7x10
2 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-57607-470-1
$191, £142, 160€, A273
eBook Available: 978-1-57607-512-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

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.

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.

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
Anthony B. Pinn, PhD, is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, Houston, TX. His published works include Terror and Triumph: The Nature of Black Religion and African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking Like the Children of Nimrod.


"The vividly written entries evince a rare combination of scholarship and accessibility, making this work appropriate for both academic and larger public libraries."—Library Journal, December 15, 2009

"Scholars of history, religion, and other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences provide short entries and more substantial essays about the myriad religious cultures among Africans and people of African descent throughout the Western Hemisphere. Among topics of the entries are African Americans in various Christian denominations, Catimbó, maroons, the Nation of Islam, the Orisha religion in Trinidad, Rastafari, Santería, Shrine of the Black Madonna, Umbanda, and Wicca. The essays consider broader areas of African American religion such as literature and religion, preaching and sermonic traditions, healing and health, popular culture, the urban context, education, the psychology of religious behavior, and worship. A chronology is provided, along with appendices containing primary documents and short essays on related topics. The two volumes are paged and indexed together." —Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2009

"[A]n outstanding 2-volume set packed with Afro-American religious and cultural history and deserves a spot in any high school to college-level collection . . . this is a 'must' for any serious black history or spiritual collection."—Midwest Book Review, December 1, 2009

"This is a valuable work for any college or public library with a large African American population."—ARBAonline, October 1, 2009

"The tone of [this] work is suitable for most academic and large public libraries. Highly recommended."—Booklist, February 1, 2010

"This title will be highly useful in both academic and public libraries and will appeal to numerous audiences, including the general public, the African American community, laypersons, religious professionals, faculty, and students. . . . Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers."—Choice, April 1, 2010
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