Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Black Church vs. White Church

I was asked on formspring to write about the difference between the black and white religious experience in America.

I guess the first thing to tackle is the actual church going experience. It is a misconception that while Black churches are rambunctious, cymbals and tambourines, running around the church, falling out and speaking in tongues, White churches are solemn, still and quiet. Although I’ve never been to a predominately white church I can say I have been to Black churches that are as solemn as they come, so I’m sure on both sides of the fence you’ll find your fair share of both exciting services and dull ones.

On a larger scale I don’t know how much of a difference there really is between the religious experiences of Black and white people. For example a pastor like Joyce Meyers sees a very diverse crowd at her services and conferences. She is an older white woman and I am a young Black women yet I find her messages hit home to me more often than not. There really isn't an issue of race when I think about her ministry. I think there is more of a difference in experience between denominations than there is between races.

One thing I have observed is that there is an idea that while white people are a mixture of people of faith, agnostics, and atheists, often it is always assumed that Black people are church goers or religious people. It might have something to do with the large presence of the “Black Church” in the African American community, I’m not sure.

To sum things up, I don’t think there is too huge of a difference between the white and Black religious experience.

What do you think? In your experience have you found a vast difference in the two?

8 comments:

  1. I'm white. I got to a mixed race church. It's not something I look at or think about, but I have been to a couple all black churches when my youth choir used to tour the area. I always enjoyed them and loved their gospel songs and passion for God. I wasn't used to people screaming out "Amen" and other things during the sermon, but I didn't mind it. In my experience, black churches seem to be more exciting than other ones I've been too. I love churches that have the overhead projectors so you can sing along to more upbeat songs than the traditional hymns.

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  2. well...I've only gone to service in Viet or in English (Catholic) and all I can say is the Viet mass is longer. They practice more formalities and rituals versus the English mass is speedy because well...people don't want to stay in church that long. They have other things to do.

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  3. "I think there is more of a difference in experience between denominations than there is between races." I agree. I've been to churches of different denominations and been very uncomfortable. I don't think I'd be uncomfortable in a black church if it was similar theologically to mine.

    Our church is striving to be more multicultural. While it is still too white (probably 85% white non-hispanic), we're growing in that area, which is encouraging.

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  4. It makes me sad that there even has to be this distinction. I like any church as long as they have donuts afterwards. Darn, probably why I don't have a Beyonce body. Hmmm....

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  5. "cymbals and tambourines, running around the church, falling out and speaking in tongues."

    This sounds like my grandpa's church. Maracas, tambourines, people who can't clap in time or with each other. dentures falling out during singing, people hopping around and shouting. We've had a broken pew and a broken guitar due to praying people falling over. It's nondenominational but I think the pastor (my grandpa) is pentecostal.

    I've often felt compelled to write a book, 'cause that is an entirely unique experience.

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  6. @Bee - that is DEFINITELY a unique experience lol

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  7. Why do you capitalize "black' but not "white"? What would your thought be if a white writer capitalized "white" and not "black". You'd probably say he/she was racist. I'm disappointed.

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  8. @Anonymous - you know, I hadn't even noticed that until you pointed it out. I'm not sure. If I had used Caucasian I definitely would have capitalized. Either way,I wouldn't think the opposite capitalization would denote someone as racist.

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