A new study breaks ground and adds insight:
The African-American community’s relationship with the Christian faith is well known and has been thoroughly documented, but a new study focusing on Black Catholics specifically, challenges common assumptions about one of the Black community’s less popular Christian churches.
Overall, the findings show that the U.S.’s estimated three million Black Catholics are highly educated and deeply engaged in the church; they value the social and communal aspects of religious worship and are concerned about the status of racism within the church.
Commissioned by the National Black Catholic Congress and the University of Notre Dame‘s Institute for Church Life and Office of the President, the survey sought to test the validity of long-held beliefs about Black Catholics and their religious engagement. The study, coauthored by Notre Dame social scientists Darren W. Davis and Donald B. Pope-Davis, stands as the largest sample of African-American Catholics ever surveyed on their faith.
According to the survey, African-American Catholics are considered stronger in their faith than white Catholics; with 78 percent of Black Catholics reporting that their parish meets their spiritual needs compared to only 69 percent of white Catholics.
Similarly, 76 percent of African-American Catholics say their parish meets their emotional needs, compared to 60 percent of white Catholics.
Significantly, 48 percent of African-Americans attend church at least once per week, compared to only 30 percent of white Catholics.
Researchers say, African-American’s increased appreciation of religious social interactions and tendency to attend all-Black parishes contributes to their satisfaction.
“This finding also shows up among African-American Catholics who attend predominantly Black parishes,” Davis said. “A greater sense of community that comes from worshipping with others who share cultural heritage heightens religious engagement.