by LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant
“Religion” has been used within African American studies to identify the sacred rituals, symbols, traditions, and worldviews to which black folks adhere and to distinguish them from the ordinary, informal, and nonsacred principles that structure black life. Inherent in the etymology of “religion” and its subsequent genealogy is its connection to formal, identifiable traditions. The word “religion” immediately invokes an organized system on which sacred beliefs are placed and subsequent behaviors are enacted. Within African American studies, this includes, most prominently, Christianity and, less popularly, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, African traditional religions (ATRs) such as Yoruba, Santería, and Candomblé, and African-derived religions (ADRs) and folk traditions such as voodoo, conjure, and hoodoo.