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The Black church continues as source inspiration, comfort

Was Jesus original civil rights activist?

Merdies Hayes Editor In Chief | 3/29/2018, 12:55 p.m.
Americans are observing a bittersweet Holy Week as we approach the 50th..

In the 1960s and ‘70s the United States began to grudgingly remove the obstacles to broader opportunities for African Americans and the Black church struggled to effectively speak to those who had left its confines.

Black church matters

A number of studies have confirmed past research that faith is closely aligned with positive outcomes for African Americans amid the realities of discrimination and economic, political and social inequality. One study published in 2016 in the journal “Race and Social Problems” indicated that neither education nor income predicted a sense of optimism among Blacks. What mattered most, researchers found, was a belief in a loving, merciful God. “It appears that the sense that one is loved and uplifted by God and the belief that one has received God’s forgiveness work in tandem,” the study reported.

By this evidence, Black church members “have each other’s back” in relation to a bond between congregation members and an inherent system of social support in terms of assistance during illness, transportation needs, financial help and even pitching in with a friend’s household chores.

Additional data from the National Survey of American Life found that Black adolescents who experience discrimination are more likely to show signs of poorer mental health. Having church members listen to their concerns helped them feel loved and care for which, according to the survey, reduced the risk of psychiatric disorders among Black youth. They even looked at substance abuse among Black youth. While African Americans are less likely to use alcohol and drugs than Whites, people who have experienced discrimination are reportedly more likely to suffer from substance abuse. Adherence to to the Gospels was found to be a proactive factor that appeared to help reduce the strong relationship between discrimination and substance abuse.