Posted: March 15, 2022
Black Catholics are a minority in the United States in numerous ways. They comprise a small share of Black adults (6%) and an even smaller share of Catholic adults (4%). A recent Pew Research Center study designed to capture the diversity of Black American religious life offers new insights into Black Catholics’ religious habits and experiences, finding that their experiences at parishes and at Mass are often distinctive from those of other U.S. Catholics. It also shows that their religious beliefs and practices differ from those of Black Protestants.
One way the religious experience of Black Catholics stands out is that they are a lot less likely than White or Hispanic Catholics – who together make up the vast majority of U.S. Catholics – to worship in parishes where most people share their race or ethnicity. In this way, Black Catholics also tend to have very different experiences than Black Protestants, who make up the majority of Black Christians in the U.S. About two-thirds of Black Protestants who attend church at least a few times a year (68%) say they routinely worship where most other attendees are Black. Many Black Protestants belong to historically Black Protestant denominations, such as the National Baptist Convention and the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
In addition, the majority of Black Catholics say that opposing racism is important to how they think about being Christian. About three-quarters of Black Catholics (77%) say opposition to racism is essential to what being Christian means to them. Most Black Catholics also say opposition to sexism (75%) and believing in God (73%) are essential to what being Christian means to them, while much smaller shares say attending religious services regularly (26%), opposing abortion (22%) and avoiding sex before marriage (16%) are essential to their Christian faith.
Black Catholics are a little more likely than White or Hispanic Catholics to say that opposing racism and sexism are essential to what being a faithful Christian means to them. They are about as likely as Black Protestants to say that opposing discrimination is essential to their faith, but they are somewhat less likely than Black Protestants to view regular church attendance, belief in God and avoiding sex before marriage as essential to their religious identity.
The survey finds that 16% of Black Catholics are converts to the faith – people who identify as Catholic now, though they were raised in another religious tradition or as religiously unaffiliated. The share of Black Catholics who are converts to Catholicism is higher than the share of White or Hispanic Catholics who are converts.
That said, the share of Black Americans who were raised as Catholics and remain Catholics is lower than the corresponding shares of Hispanic and White Catholics. Roughly half of Black adults who were raised Catholic still identify as Catholic (54%), compared with 61% of White adults and 68% of Hispanic adults who were raised as Catholics and still identify with the faith.
Furthermore, the survey shows that among Black adults, there are more people who have left Catholicism than have come to the faith. Overall, 4% of Black Americans say they were raised Catholic and no longer identify as such, while 1% of Black adults are converts to Catholicism.
A similar pattern prevails among U.S. Catholics as a whole. The Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that 13% of all U.S. adults are former Catholics – people who left Catholicism after having been raised in the church – while 2% of U.S. adults have become Catholic after being raised in another religion (or no religion). The same study found that Catholicism had experienced the greatest net losses due to religious switching of any Christian religious tradition in the U.S. as of 2014.
These are among the key findings of a new Pew Research Center analysis of the characteristics of Black Catholics. The analysis draws largely on a survey conducted Nov. 19, 2019-June 3, 2020, among a nationally representative sample of 13,234 adults, including 8,660 Black Americans. The survey was designed to capture the diversity of Black religious life in the U.S., allowing for a detailed look at the religious views and experiences of Black subgroups. A broad overview of the survey’s findings is available in the 2021 report “Faith Among Black Americans.” While this new analysis focuses specifically on Black Catholics, it also incorporates data on White and Hispanic Catholics, as well as on Black Protestants, for comparison purposes.
By AG NEWS on December 23, 2021
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, take a moment to quiet yourself and read again the story of Jesus’ birth. We encourage you to read this selection of Scriptures with your family and give thanks to God for the gift of His son, our Savior, Jesus Christ!
THE BIRTH OF JESUS FORETOLD
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
(Luke 1:26-38, KJV)
THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (Matthew 1:18-25, KJV)
THE BIRTH OF JESUS
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
(Luke 2:1-7, KJV)
THE SHEPHERDS AND ANGELS
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
(Luke 2:8-20, KJV)
THE VISIT OF THE MAGI
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
(Matthew 2:1-12, KJV)
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