The modern concept of the Abrahamic religions has roots in Christian theology, the academic study of the Near East, and the study of Islam. In the nineteenth century, Protestant theologians built on the idea of the ‘Abrahamic covenant’ in developing the idea of a spiritual connection among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At the same time, students of the Near East understood the three religious traditions as sharing a common genealogical bond. Such recognition was enhanced by Islam’s own sense of the religion of Abraham, which was communicated to a broader public by western Islamicists. Although the concept of the Abrahamic religions does not preclude the privileging of one religion over the others, it has provided both scholars and laypeople with a useful way of exploring the common ground of the three faiths.
Emily Suzanne Clark
The typical story of African American religions narrates the development and power of the Protestant black church, but shifting the focus to the long nineteenth century can reorient the significance of the story. The nineteenth century saw the boom of Christian conversions among African Americans, but it also was a century of religious diversity. All forms of African American religion frequently pushed against the dominance of whiteness. This included the harming and cursing element of Conjure and southern hoodoo, the casting of slaves as Old Israel awaiting their exodus from bondage, the communications between the spirit of Abraham Lincoln and Afro-Creoles in New Orleans, and the push for autonomy and leadership by Richard Allen and the rest of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. While many studies of African American religions in the nineteenth century overwhelmingly focus on Protestantism, this is only part of the story.
This chapter analyzes African American religious identity and practice in the twentieth century. Shaped by the Great Migration and the rise of mass culture, modern African American religious practice was both inventive and entrepreneurial. Although mainline denominations continued to dominate, Pentecostal and Holiness churches gained popularity through the rise of storefront churches, a refuge for southern migrants in the urban North. In addition, new religious movements such as the Moorish Science Temple of America, the Nation of Islam, and Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement offered followers the opportunity to create entirely new religious and ethnic identities for themselves. The rise of radio and television transformed African American evangelism and eventually produced the era of the megachurch exemplified by the careers of Reverend Ike and T. D. Jakes. Modern African American religions competed in a spiritual marketplace that cultivated imaginative faith practices and met the material needs of their followers.
This chapter chronicles the relationship between African religious practices on the continent and African American religion in the plantation Americas in the era of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. A new generation of scholars who emerged in the 1960s and 1970s have demonstrated not only that African religious practices exhibit remarkable subtlety and complexity but also that these cultures have played significant roles in the subsequent development of religious practices throughout the world. Christianity, Islam, and traditional African religion comprised a set of broad and varied religious practices that contributed to the development of creative, subtle, and complex belief systems that circulated around the African Diaspora. In addition, this chapter addresses some of the vexed epistemological challenges related to discussing and describing non-Western ritual and religious practices.
Marthinus L. Daneel
In the post-chimurenga years of independent Zimbabwe, the African Initiated Churches (AICs) heeded the prophetic call to earth-keeping. They joined forces with practitioners of traditional religion—the chiefs, headmen, spirit mediums, and ex-combatants of the country's liberation struggle—and formed their own wing of the green army. Thus, under the auspices of the Zimbabwean Institute of Religious Research and Ecological Conservation, two religiously distinct movements—the Association of Zimbabwean Traditionalist Ecologists and the Association of African Earthkeeping Churches—joined forces to wage a new chimurenga, a struggle for the liberation of creation, particularly the rehabilitation of the degraded environment of Zimbabwe's overcrowded communal lands, under the banner “war of the trees.” In Zimbabwe and much of southern Africa today, the AICs total between 50 percent and 60 percent of African Christianity. This article focuses on Africa's green movement and ecotheology as well as earth-keeping initiatives such as tree planting.
This chapter analyzes a wide range of African customs and legends. It demonstrates that African traditional religion offers notions of a thriving spirit world which provides “sacred warriors” ritualized protections and martial enhancements when defense of community is urgent. African traditional religion remains primarily an African phenomenon and, as a result, is tightly associated with the cultures and realities of the continent. The role of religion in motivating violence and its role in carrying out the violence are addressed. The Lord's Resistance Army has revealed that a spiritual agenda and rhetoric is not enough to win the support of the people. A proliferation of news stories and images from across Africa of persecuted albino communities, victims of ritual sacrifice or magically empowered rebels might give the impression that traditional religion and violence are more intertwined than ever.
Erik J. Wielenberg
This chapter examines the question of whether key features expected from moral conduct, such as freedom, choice, agency, and responsibility, can sufficiently exist within the natural world as understood by science. A secular, naturalistic view of the universe excludes the existence of nonphysical souls standing outside of the physical universe yet able to causally influence it, and it excludes the existence of a nonphysical deity that could be responsible for human agency and responsibility. Absent those possibilities, this chapter considers the prospects for freedom in a naturalistic universe, together with the issue of what sort of freedom (if any) is required for agency and moral responsibility. Three models of naturalistic agency are explained and discussed: compatibilism, event-causal libertarianism, and agent-causal libertarianism.
This article discusses the emergence of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi; the AK Party) as a center-right political movement with Islamic and national roots. It examines the AK Party’s political ideology of “conservative democracy” within the context of the new dynamics of twenty-first-century Turkish politics. It evaluates the AK Party’s performance in government since taking office in 2002. Finally, the AK Party’s foreign policy and its struggle to overcome oppositional identities are considered.
American Jewish history as a field of scholarly inquiry takes as its subject-matter the experience of Jews in the United States and places it within the context of both modern Jewish history and the history of the United States. Its practitioners see their intellectual project as inextricably connected to both histories. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the enterprise of American Jewish history enjoys a condition of robust health. By the 1990s American immigration history had generally declined in favour within the ranks of American historians. That Jews, outsiders to American culture upon their arrival in the United States, were able to penetrate barriers and enter the mainstream clashes with the way historians want to see the American past. As a group who craved both economic security and respectability, their story lacks the dramatic punch of resisters and rebels to the American ethos.
Thinking about American Jews, race, and religion entails confronting the instability of those terms. This chapter examines the history of Jews and race in the United States through three lenses. First, it looks at the history of how Eastern European Jews have been “raced” in America, and in particular how they became “white.” Second, it considers Jewish interactions with other groups, such as blacks, Native Americans, and Asians, and how Jewish identity has been co-constituted with and against that of other groups. Third, the chapter looks at internal Jewish diversity and the challenges presented by Euro-centric models of Jewishness. The chapter concludes by considering Jews, race, and religion in the age of Ferguson.