Looks at the social and political changes that have caused African Americans to refocus their churches as a power base, and looks at the reasons for their return to the church
Recently, many newspaper and magazine stories have focused on the return of young African Americans to the nation's 65,000 black churches; the Washington Post called it "a movement sweeping middle-class black congregations." In part, this shift parallels a trend in the majority population that has found baby boomers increasingly interested in spirituality. But while the new spirituality may account for part of the revival of interest among blacks, something even more dramatic is going on. African Americans are not just returning to the church in search of divine salvation; they are returning to the only American institution they truly control, in the hope of reviving its role as a command center and strategic outpost for social change and renewal.The church continues to emit a powerful "homing signal" for African Americans who were raised in it but who wandered away in the years following the civil rights movement in the sixties. It is a power base, a place to congregate and align in large numbers, a battle station for economic and political reform, and a sanctuary for traditional African American culture. For many blacks with children, the church is a community and educational center, a source of strong ethical and moral values. For some it presents an opportunity to return to communities and people who were abandoned along the road to "bourgeois" affluence; for others it offers an extended family and a plain old great place to socialize.