Black Americans lead the pack when it comes to attending church and daily prayer compared to other races, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The report found most Black adults say they rely on prayer to help make major decisions and view opposing racism as essential to their religious faith. Also, predominantly Black places of worship continue to dominate their religious choices.
Sixty percent of Black adults who attend religious services, either regularly or sporadically, say they attend religious services at places where most or all the other attendees are Black as well as the leadership.
However, these patterns appear to be changing. The survey of more than 8,600 Black adults across the U.S. found that young Black adults are less religious and less engaged in Black churches than older generations.
“Black millennials and members of Generation Z are less likely to rely on prayer, less likely to have grown up in Black churches and less likely to say religion is an important part of their lives,” the authors wrote. “Fewer attend religious services and those who do attend are less likely to go to a predominantly Black congregation.”
Roughly half of Black Gen Zers [born after 1996] who go to a church or other places of worship say their congregation and clergy are mostly Black, compared with two-thirds of Black Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation.
For Black Protestants, two-thirds are particularly likely to worship in churches where most of the attendees and pastors are Black.
By contrast, the majority of Black Catholics and Black adults of other faiths say their congregations and religious leaders are multiracial, mostly white, or mostly some other race.
On the other side of the religious coin, about one-in-five Black Americans [21 percent] are not affiliated with any religion and instead identify as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – a phenomenon that continues to increase by generation said study authors.
An estimated three-in-10 Black Gen Zers [28 percent] and millennials [33 percent] in the survey are religiously unaffiliated, compared with just 11 percent of Baby Boomers and 5 percent of those in the Silent Generation.
The Pew Research Center has initiated several surveys and reports about Black Americans and religion. In 2018, the Center found that Black men are less religious than Black women but more religious than white men and white women.
“Research has shown that men in the United States are generally less religious than women. And while this pattern holds true among Black Americans – Black women tend to be more religious than Black men – Black men are still a highly religious group,” said authors of the analysis.
The research also found Black men are more religious than Hispanic men and at least as religious as Hispanic women on many key indicators of religious observance.
As far as social justice, Black Americans overwhelmingly believe opposing racism is a religious issue.
Among Protestants, 75 percent of those surveyed say opposing racism is essential to being Christian as do 77 percent of Catholics.
In addition, about eight in 10 Black adults who identify with other Christian or non-Christian faiths say opposing racism is essential to their own religious identity.
Of those who do not describe opposing racism as “essential,” most say it is “important” the report reveals.
“Many findings in this survey highlight the distinctiveness and vibrancy of Black congregations, demonstrating that the collective entity some observers and participants have called “the Black Church” is alive and well in America today,” said report authors. “But there also are some signs of decline, such as the gap between the shares of young adults and those in older generations who attend predominantly Black houses of worship.”