What is one of Anthony Pinn's religious alternatives to Black Christianity in America?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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Anthony B. Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, primarily advocates "black humanism" as the most viable religious alternative to African American Protestantism. He defines "humanism" in accord with humanist Gordon Kaufman’s who states that religion is that which provides "orientation" to life and life's paradoxical circumstances, such as the problem of evil, while further providing "motivation for living and acting" in ethical, philosophical and practical accord with that orientation. Thus, for Pinn, black humanism encompasses a whole world view that has potentiality to replace the orientation, motivation and the possibilities paradigm (possibilities for actions) of Christianity.

One of the problematic concerns that Pinn recognizes in black Christianity is the binary between God's asserted attributes and evil. Pinn posits that through black humanism, the binary is undermined because the question of God's existence is removed from consideration: there is no longer any need to prove or to disprove God's existence because all questions of orientation, motivation and action have been centered internally in humans' own volition.

I am concerned with a central question: what is 'black' about black religion and what is 'religious' about black religion? In addressing this question, I give attention to descriptive discussions of various modalities of African American religious experience. In so doing, I want to present the diversity of religious experience within African American communities. (Anthony B. Pinn)