Rituals of Healing in African American Spiritual Churches

Claude F. Jacobs

in Religion and Healing in America

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780195167962
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850150 | DOI:
Rituals of Healing in African American Spiritual Churches

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Among African Americans, there exists a wide variety of religious beliefs regarding health, illness, and healing. Many Spiritual churches arose in the early 20th century and are characterized by their combination of elaborate rituals, highly aesthetic sanctuaries, intensely emotional services of worship, openness to women ministers, and eclectic belief system. Drawing on Roman Catholicism, Pentecostalism, 19th-century Spiritualism, New Thought, and African religious concepts that were incorporated into what is known as Voodoo or hoodoo in the United States, the Spiritual churches have created ritual spaces in which people can combine features of these religions in a variety of ways. A part of what attracted people to the Spiritual churches in the early days, and continues to do so now, is their reputation for healing and prophecy. Today's leaders of the Spiritual churches are men and women who often are recognized as “prophets,” “divine healers,” or “spiritual advisers”.

Keywords: Spiritual churches; African Americans; health; illness; healing; rituals; Voodoo; United States; prophecy; divine healers

Chapter.  3992 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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