FAYETTEVILLE, NC – The evolution, mainly among the younger generations, towards spirituality rather than religiosity is visible in Fayetteville.
Reverend Kelli W. Taylor, chaplain and vice president of religious life and community engagement at Methodist University, said research on the church suggests a shift in young black Christians. The shift from being religious to being spiritual, when religion is defined as adherence to a specific set of organized beliefs and practices, while spirituality suggests a more individual approach to faith and practice, has t she declared.
Stacye Blount, associate professor of sociology at Fayetteville State University, talks about a difference between religiosity and spirituality.
“When we talk about religiosity, or what we can also call religiosity, we are talking about how the measure of one’s religiosity or religiosity is related to the beliefs, practices, rituals in which people participate”, a- she declared. “With spirituality, people seek the sacred to try to find meaning in life, and they trust a higher power.”
With these definitions, Blount added, people can be spiritual but not religious and vice versa.
Shatara Het Heru Bey uses her Divine Doula Goddess business not only to help women giving birth, but also to help people on their spiritual journey.
Het Heru Bey began her spiritual journey in 2009 after learning breathing techniques.
Five years ago, she attended an event called Mothers for the Earth which required her to come into contact with the earth and connect with her ancestors.
“It was just an eye-opening experience about our harmony with Earth,” she said. “It was so healing, it was so refreshing, it was cleansing. It was so different and I had never experienced anything like it in my life.
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Blount said the shift to spirituality swept through the younger black generation, starting with the death of Trayvon Martin. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black man, was shot and killed by a member of the community watch group who thought the teenager looked suspicious while wearing a hoodie in the rain. The shooter claimed he believed Martin had a gun. The teenager, who was in the neighborhood visiting relatives and was returning from a nearby 7-Eleven, was found to be in possession of a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea. The man who killed him was found not guilty of murder at trial.
“I think it sent them on a quest for faith, a spiritual experience that focused them more on their ancestral origins,” she said. “I am inclined to believe that they are spiritual, but I think they have had enough of organized religion, especially as they become more oriented towards social justice.”
Taylor said she sees it from a different perspective on how younger black generations view religion after spending time in the community. She said she doesn’t think they are completely abandoning organized religion.
Instead, Taylor said, she saw evidence that black students dedicate themselves to prayer and scripture study, but also developed a sense of weariness.
“They are tired of prayer without action and studying the scriptures which ignores the central message of the gospel which says that you cannot say that you love God and that you hate your brother or your sister”, a- she declared. “They want to engage the message of the Bible prophets who were social critics.”
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Taylor agrees that the younger generation is leaning towards social justice.
“What I am observing is that more African American youth are engaging and living their Christian beliefs in civic organizations that are at the forefront of social justice rather than in the church,” he said. she declared.
Within the black community, the use of crystals and burning sage was considered witchcraft or something sinister; a so-called Blount disconnection can be attributed to slavery.
“(Religion) was used as a control mechanism because they used the scriptures to justify what they were doing,” she said.
Blount added that she did not know why those who used religion as a form of control would think that slaves would completely forget the traditions of their country of origin. She said misconceptions about spiritual practices are also linked to fear-based misinformation.
Het Heru Bey said she believed the control and taught misconceptions about spirituality had the opposite effect. She said she feels the need to share her spirituality with other members of the black community because it is a birthright.
“It actually gives us more power, makes us feel even better about ourselves,” she said. “It allows us to see it as another way of life and to know wholeheartedly that this is what our ancestors did.”
Blount said the exhaustion of organized religion has caused millennials and Generation Z to seek a different path, leading them to conclude that spirituality is not negative.
“So once they do research, especially if they do research as far as they find out how rich the religious traditions were of their African ancestors, and this desire to want to connect with that, then they find out, well there’s really nothing wrong with burning sage, “she said.” It’s just the way it was explained to us and if you looked at a crystal you mingled with a occult practice. ”