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January 22, 2022
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Should black christians demonize African spirituality or cultivate it instead? – Religion News Service

How deep does the ambiguous relationship of African Christianity with African spirituality, at once drawing life from it but also condemning it as pagan, run? Can African Christianity truly survive, if it does not critically and maturely acknowledge African spirituality and the structures that carry it? Are they really and truly opposed to each other?

African elements give life to many churches, but outside of a Christian context, they are described as pagan and harmful.

There are two moments in recent history to which I’d like to call Black Christians’ attention.

In Beyoncé’s July 2020 movie “Black Is King,” she continued a theme she began with her 2016 landmark visual album “Lemonade”: her association with, and possible initiation into, the West African religion of Ifa. Some Christians responded by calling “Black Is King” “blasphemy, satanic, unbiblical” because of the supposed representations of “false gods” and “pagan religions.”

Beyoncé’s supposedly “satanic” images actually honor African deities such as Het Heru, a Khemetic goddess associated with the moon, women’s menstrual cycles and, by extension, fertility, but the references to African deities have particularly riled Black Christians, who take them as confirmation that the star, popular among their youth, is practicing witchcraft.

A few months later, as Americans waited for the results of the 2020 election, noted televangelist and presidential adviser Paula White, in a spirit-filled preaching style appropriated from Black church traditions, called upon “angels from Africa and South America” to help her claim victory for President Donald Trump. All out in front of Jesus and everybody, she preached down heaven, speaking in tongues and extending her hand to Ethiopia for salvation.

Read the full article titled, Black Christians, don’t demonize African spirituality on Religion News Service

Darnise Martin is a clinical associate professor of African American studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

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