Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Political Science

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Jonathan Winburn

Second Advisor

Kirk Johnson

Third Advisor

Conor Dowling

Abstract

Black churches are more than spiritual gathering places, they are power centers within the black community. Dr. King and Malcolm X used churches as mobilization centers in their attempts to equip African Americans with political information and the frame of mind needed for political change. When combining the various roles of the black church, over time, the church has gained leverage within the community and this leverage has translated into the church having political power. How exactly does this political power translate? From the pulpit, to be exact, through the power of persuasion. The public face of any church, especially the black church, is the pastor. As a religious leader he is seen as a cue-giver (Brewer, Kersh, and Peterson, 2003). The pastor is given the job of guiding the congregation with a message. Typically the message is spiritual in nature; however, at times can be mixed with blatant references to occurrences within the community and nation as a whole. The point of significance is not only the message from the pulpit but the congregation’s acceptance of the message. The peculiarity of the black church is it is an institution that sends mixed messages. Black churches advocate on behalf of the Democratic Party but advance conservative messages all year round. This causes blacks to be politically cross pressured. As such, what are individuals to do? What is their final determination in deciding how to act politically? Can the church influence which direction an individual ultimately leans politically?

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