African Americans Attend Church and Bible Study More Than Others, But Black “No’s” Increase

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(RNS) – Black adults attend church and participate in Bible studies more than other American adults, but young black Americans are less likely to identify with the Christian faith than older generations, according to a new report from the Barna Group.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, half of black church worshipers estimated they attended services every week, compared to 29% of the general black population. Baby boomers tended to be the most engaged in weekly worship compared to the younger generations.

The Californian research firm released Friday, April 16 a new segment of its “Trends in the Black Church”Report that examines the spiritual practices and identities of practicing Black Americans and African Americans.

Graphic courtesy of Barna

Before the pandemic, black adult church attendance appeared to be on the rise, with 40% in 2019 reporting having attended a service in the previous week, up from 37% in 2017. Weekly church attendance in the United States has overall continued to decline to 31% in 2019.


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About half of black American adults (49%) were engaged in Bible reading from 2001 to 2019, more than any other racial / ethnic group and significantly more than American adults as a whole (33%). According to the study, Bible reading among black Americans has changed very little over the years, although other measures of religiosity have declined.

In 2020, half (51%) of black worshipers said they typically attended a church Bible study, under normal circumstances, at least every two weeks.

Graphic courtesy of Barna

Graphic courtesy of Barna

In recent years, the religious affiliation of African Americans has declined and more and more people identify themselves as “no.”

While 74% of black adults say they are Christians, this percentage has dropped sharply from 89% in 2011. 15% of African Americans say they are agnostic, atheist or faithless.

Black Gen Zers (67%) and Millennials (65%) have similar digital connections to Christianity. This makes them less Christian than older black adults, but more tied to this faith than their peers from other races.

But Gen Zers are both the most likely to identify themselves as “religious but not spiritual” (30%) and the least likely to identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious” (24%).

Graphic courtesy of Barna

Graphic courtesy of Barna

The results are based in part on an online survey, conducted from April 22 to May 6, 2020, of 1,083 black American adults and 822 other black church worshipers. He had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

Barna’s report previously examined the perceptions of black church pastors and the role of black churches as sources of comfort and control.

Barna developed the report with partners, including American Bible Society, Black millennium coffee, International Compassion, Lead.NYC and Urban Ministries Inc.


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