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While Marching to Zion: Otherworldliness and Racial Empowerment in the Black Community

Allison Calhoun-Brown
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 37, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), pp. 427-439
DOI: 10.2307/1388050
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1388050
Page Count: 13
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While Marching to Zion: Otherworldliness and Racial Empowerment in the Black Community
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Abstract

Whether religion is the opiate of or the inspiration for political activity is one of the classic questions in the study of religion and politics. No place is this more clearly demonstrated than in the study of African Americans and racial empowerment. Despite the close relationship between religion and the Civil Rights Movement, many suggest that the nature of black Protestantism, especially its otherworldly orientation, depresses efforts to maximize African American political and social influence. Examining different components of religiosity among African Americans, this study finds that no form of religiosity depresses racial empowerment, but that varying aspects do have different effects. Organizational religiosity strongly predicts support for integrationist-oriented means to empowerment. Otherworldliness strongly predicts support for separatist-oriented means to empowerment. Religious guidance does not predict support for any aspect of empowerment. The study illustrates the multidimensional nature of religiosity and highlights the complexity of the relationship between religion and politics among blacks.

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