Jun 10, 2021 2 mins, 8 secs
In fact, 28 percent of Black Gen Zers and 33 percent of Black millennials are religiously unaffiliated, compared to 11 percent of baby boomers, who are ages 57 to 75, the report said.

As a result, younger generations are less likely to rely on prayer, less likely to have grown up in Black churches and less likely to say religion is an important part of their lives, the report said.

So what are young Black pastors doing to engage with young people and perhaps lead them back to the church.

Justin Lester, senior pastor at Congdon Street Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island, said more young adults are exploring other ways to engage with religious practices beyond the pews.

Stewart also pointed out that many young Black adults rejecting Christianity are also rejecting ties to a religion in which white Christians and churches used the Bible to justify slavery and racial segregation.

"What Black people have done in understanding our Christianity and our identity as Black Christians — we've had to develop some sort of relationship with God and some sort of sustainable church model within a greater context of Christianity in America that was oppressive," Stewart said.

"Many people say things like 'this is the white man's religion, this was forced upon us,' when, in actuality, the Bible predates the trans-Atlantic slave trade," said Clark, who is a youth pastor for Born to Win Ministries, a predominantly Black church.

On a more modern scale, these young Black pastors also know of young adults who have left churches citing hypocrisy stemming from scandals like embezzlement, adultery and sex abuse at the hands of religious leaders.

Stewart and Lester said the role churches have played in the Black community can't be replaced and that continuing that legacy includes expanding access to leadership roles, reimagining church structures and taking new approaches to how the Gospel is taught.

Lester said he also thinks young Black adults are simply choosing to socialize in other shared places, such as coffee shops, gyms or online.

Even though there's a divide in attending church, about 75 percent of Black people across different faiths and age groups said Black churches have played a role in achieving racial equity, and nearly half of Black Protestant church attendees have heard a sermon on racism, the report said.

But younger generations don't feel dependent on the church to practice activism, Stewart and Lester said?

"A lot of people realize that the church has been, in a lot of ways, an institution that has served its purpose in the sense of protecting Black people," Stewart said.


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