God-Talking in Liminal Spaces: A Phenomenological Study on Black Millennials Disaffiliation from Christendom

Teddy RaShaan Reeves, Fordham University


Since the 1970s, the American religious landscape has dramatically shifted—from church attendance to an individual’s personal religious identification. Nowhere is this decline more evident than within the millennial generation—individuals born between 1981-1996 (Diamant and Mohamed, 2018). While Millennials, as a generation, are far less religious than previous generations (Greatest Generation, Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, and Gen X), Black Millennials are more religious than their White and Latino counterparts but less religious than previous Black generations (Diamant and Mohamed, 2018). This phenomenological qualitative research study explored the rising number of Black Millennials disaffiliating from traditional Black Christian Churches. Six archived oral history interviews of Black Millennials from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) were used to explore the phenomenon of disaffiliation. The findings of the study revealed that majority of the Black Millennials remained spiritually and religiously engaged even after disaffiliating from their traditional Black Church spaces. In addition, the study revealed that once disaffiliated, Black Millennials were reconstituting their faith and spirituality in liminal spaces—betwixt and between their traditional Black Christian spaces and non-belief—through digital technologies and meet-ups (both virtual and in person). Additional findings and recommendations for further study are examined under the discussions and findings section.

Subject Area

Religion|African American Studies|Religious education|Theology

Recommended Citation

Reeves, Teddy RaShaan, "God-Talking in Liminal Spaces: A Phenomenological Study on Black Millennials Disaffiliation from Christendom" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28646064.