The New Black Gods

The New Black Gods

Arthur Huff Fauset and the Study of African American Religions
Edited by Edward E Curtis Iv and Danielle Sigler
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/23/2009
ISBN: 978-0-253-00408-6
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Taking the influential work of Arthur Huff Fauset as a starting point to break down the false dichotomy that exists between mainstream and marginal, a new generation of scholars offers fresh ideas for understanding the religious expressions of African Americans in the United States. Fauset's 1944 classic, Black Gods of the Metropolis, launched original methods and theories for thinking about African American religions as modern, cosmopolitan, and democratic. The essays in this collection show the diversity of African American religion in the wake of the Great Migration and consider the full field of African American religion from Pentecostalism to Black Judaism, Black Islam, and Father Divine's Peace Mission Movement. As a whole, they create a dynamic, humanistic, and thoroughly interdisciplinary understanding of African American religious history and life. This book is essential reading for anyone who studies the African American experience.

Author Bio

Edward E. Curtis IV is Millennium Scholar of the Liberal Arts and Associate Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. He is author of Islam in Black America and Black Muslim Religion in the Nation of Islam, 1960–1975. He is editor of the Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States.

Danielle Brune Sigler is Curator of Academic Affairs at the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin.


“In this essential dynamic perspective, a new generation of scholars offers fresh ideas for understanding the religious expressions of African Americans in the United States. ”

“The editors of this fine collection of essays have resurrected the influence and importance of Arthur Fauset's classic study.... --ChoiceOctober 2009”

“. . . a fantastic new collection of essays on Arthur Huff Fauset and African American religious traditions. May 4, 2009”
 — Phillip Luke Sinitiere, Religion in American History (blog)

“This well-conceived book extends Fauset’s respect for religious differences and his laudable refusal to indulge in grand, but inaccurate generalities.Vol. 97. 1 June 2010”
 — Keith D. Miller, Arizona State University Tempe, Arizona

“This reappraisal of Fauset becomes a reappraisal of how to study African American religions, which makes this volume a must for anyone interested in this field. ”
 — Nova Religio

“Overall, the essays in this collection offer a fresh, thoughtful look into African American religious communities outside of the Christian mainstream. . . . [T]his is a commendable collection that should encourage and inform subsequent study. 116.1 February 2011”
 — American Historical Review

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Catherine L. Albanese and Stephen J. Stein

Introduction / Edward E. Curtis IV and Danielle Brune Sigler

Part 1. New Religious Movement(s) of the Great Migration Era
1. Fauset's (Missing) Pentecostals: Church Mothers, Remaking Respectability, and Religious Modernism / Clarence Hardy
2. "Grace Has Given God a Vacation": The History and Development of the Theology of the United House of Prayer of All People / Danielle Brune Sigler
3. "Chased out of Palestine": Prophet Cherry's Church of God and Early Black Judaisms in the United States / Nora L. Rubel
4. Debating the Origins of the Moorish Science Temple: Toward a New Cultural History / Edward E. Curtis IV
5. "The Consciousness of God's Presence Will Keep You Well, Healthy, Happy, and Singing": The Tradition of Innovation in the Music of Father Divine's Peace Mission Movement / Leonard Norman Primiano
6. "A True Moslem Is a True Spiritualist": Black Orientalism and Black Gods of the Metropolis / Jacob S. Dorman

Part 2. Resurrecting Fauset's Vision for African American Religious Studies
7. Religion Proper and Proper Religion: Arthur Fauset and the Study of African American Religions / Sylvester A. Johnson
8. The Perpetual Primitive in African American Religious Historiography / Kathryn Lofton
9. Turning African Americans into Rational Actors: The Important Legacy of Fauset's Functionalism / Carolyn Rouse
10. Defining the "Negro Problem" in Brazil: The Shifting Significance of Brazil's African Heritage from the 1890s to the 1940s / Kelly E. Hayes
11. Fauset and His Black Gods: Intersections with the Herskovits-Frazier Debate / Stephen W. Angell

List of Contributors