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The Religious Racial Integration of African Americans into Diverse Churches

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Recent scholarship asserts that members of racial groups can transcend their ethnic differences, but other research asserts that ethnoracial identities must be reinforced in order to participate in multiracial churches. Analysis of field notes and interview data from a large, black-white Protestant congregation shows that while the core membership of African Americans come specifically for its ethnic and racial diversity, they also look for markers that affirm a distinctive African-American experience. Ethnic reinforcement attracts highly race-conscious participants who eventually move toward processes of ethnic transcendence and congregational integration. The value for researchers is that distinguishing ethnically transcendent and ethnically reinforcing processes encourages the discovery of subtle, racially specific, and continually reinforced affinities that would otherwise remain hidden in seemingly ethnically transcendent settings.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01503.x

Affiliations: Department of SociologyDavidson College

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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