Beyond Christianity draws on rich ethnographic work in a Religious Science church in Oakland, California, to illuminate the ways a group of African Americans has adapted a religion typically thought of as white to fit their needs and circumstances.
This predominantly African American congregation is an anomalous phenomenon for both Religious Science and African American religious studies. It stands at the intersection of New Thought doctrine, characterized by personal empowerment teachings,and a culturally familiar liturgical style reminiscent of Black Pentecostals and Black Spiritualists. This group challenges oversimplified concepts of the Black church experience and broadens the concept of Black religion outside the boundaries of Christianity—raising questions about what it means to be an African American congregation, and about the nature of blackness itself. Beyond Christianity adds a new dimension to the scholarship on Black religion.
1 What Is Religious Science?
2 Historical Intersections and New Religious Adaptations
3 Westward Migration: African American Communities in the San Francisco Bay Area
4 East Bay Church of Religious Science in Perspective
5 Methodological Intersections and Conclusions
6 Implications for the Future
About the Author
“Explores a neglected area of American Religious study: Religious Science—or New Thought—among African Americans. Illuminating, insightful, well-researched, and clearly written, this indispensable work adds immensely to our understanding of the variety of black religious experience in the U.S.”
-Sandy Dwayne Martin,author of Black Baptists and African Missions
“This well-written book should help to expand the boundaries of what is called black religions”-Choice
“An important and intriguing critique of narrow understandings of what it means to be Black and religious. This captivating journey through the religious sensibilities and insights of the East Bay Church of Religious Science will challenge and inspire. I highly recommend it.”
-Anthony Pinn,Rice University