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African–American Religious Affiliation in the Late 20th Century: Cohort Variations and Patterns of Switching, 1973–1998

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This article investigates shifts in religious affiliation among African Americans over the last three decades and across cohorts. I examine data from the 1973–1998 General Social Surveys to analyze denominational growth and decline, and patterns of religious switching. I compare variations in religious loyalty/switching and patterns of mobility across eight salient religious groupings; cohort variations are tested across pre– and post–civil rights cohorts. I examine a range of log–linear and log–multiplicative models to summarize patterns of switching and to see whether patterns vary across cohorts. I find that the “black mainline” Methodist and Baptist denominations lose members from switching and have lower market share because of the ascendance of conservative sects. Further, nonaffiliation is growing, particularly in the post–civil rights cohort. I found no variations in patterns of mobility over time or across cohorts—only in the rates of switching that drive the levels of mobility.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Southern Illinois University

Publication date: September 1, 2002


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