Black Americans of all ages are more Christian than the rest of the country, but leaders say it’s getting harder for younger generations—who are frustrated with racial injustice in the church and are increasingly influenced by secular voices—to keep the faith.
The gap between the beliefs of parents and grandparents and their kids is wider in the black community than the country as a whole, according to new data released today by Barna Group.
Around two-thirds of black millennials and Gen Z identify as Christian, 10 percentage points fewer than black Gen Xers and 20 percentage points fewer than black Boomers—about double the difference in faith found between younger and older Americans overall.
“Black young adults have become cynical about the gospel’s credibility because of the persistence of racial injustice and white supremacy,” said Shaylen Hardy, national director of black campus ministries for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. “They reject the silence (and complicity) they find in some church communities. As a result, they may be likely to view the church’s entire belief system as uncredible and untrustworthy.”
Hardy sees students begin to deconstruct their faith when grappling with the apparent contradiction between biblical teachings and Christian systems that have contributed toward black oppression. These tough questions can lead them to leave the church altogether.
“Without someone to walk alongside them, they cannot isolate the problematic parts while retaining the core,” she said.
Black millennials and Gen Z are still more likely to identify as Christian (65% and 67%) than millennials and Gen Z overall (63% and 61%), Barna found in its Trends in the Black Church survey, conducted early last year.
Leaders fear, though, that younger generations of black Americans now have more secular voices backing their doubts and frustrations over the church.
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Source: Christianity Today