Wealth and Worship: The Relationship Between Resources and Religiosity Among African Americans

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this project is to investigate the correlation between wealth and religion, particularly focusing on how financial prosperity influences African American religiosity.  Wealth (specifically in the form of income) is the independent variable (addressing the larger concept of socioeconomic status, which is often abbreviated as SES) and religiosity (as measured by religious service attendance) is the dependent variable.  The aim of this work is to determine whether economic progress is in any way related to the spirituality or religiosity of African Americans.

This project attempts to reexamine E. Franklin Frazier's thesis in Black Bourgeoisie.  More explicitly, it is focused on how class (and to some degree, status) as an independent variable influences religiosity among African Americans.  It takes a similar view of class distinctions, particularly analyzing the psyches and behaviors of the Black middle class as addressed in Black Bourgeoisie.  Frazier argued that Blacks who reached middle class status soon lose touch with the history of their race, ultimately turn their backs on longstanding cultural values, and opt for inclusion in White, middle class American culture.  These longstanding, neglected values include Black religious traditions and loyalty to the institution of the Black Church.  Thus, reaching middle class status for African Americans may mean that they have bought into the American ideal of capitalism, while simultaneously rejecting African American (or any) religious traditions.

I conducted an analysis using data collected from the General Social Survey (GSS).  The sample is drawn from adult respondents who have participated in these surveys since 1972.  The data set includes the years 1972, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2004, and 2010.  The primary focus of this project is to determine whether there is statistically significance between income and religious service attendance among African Americans.



Socioeconomic Status, Income, Religiosity, Race, African American, Black, Church