Black Churches and HIV/AIDS: Factors Influencing Congregations’ Responsiveness to Social Issues

Thumbnail Image
Can’t use the file because of accessibility barriers? Contact us with the title of the item, permanent link, and specifics of your accommodation need.



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion


The ambivalent response of many black churches to current social issues has caused some scholars to question the centrality of black churches within African‐American communities. Using a nationally representative sample of black congregations, this study engages the debate about the institutional centrality of black churches by focusing on their response to HIV/AIDS. Although many congregational studies treat black churches as a monolithic whole, this analysis identifies heterogeneity among black churches that shapes their responsiveness to social issues. Contrary to prior claims, a congregation's liberal‐conservative ideological orientation does not significantly affect its likelihood of having an HIV/AIDS program. Beyond assessing churches’ internal characteristics, this study uses institutional theory to analyze churches as open systems that can be influenced by their surrounding environment. It demonstrates that externally engaged congregations are significantly more likely to have a program. These results indicate that black churches maintain institutional centrality by engaging their external environment.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions


black churches, HIV/AIDS, congregations, social services


Fulton, Brad R. “Black Churches and HIV/AIDS: Factors Influencing Congregations’Responsivenessto Social Issues.”Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 50:617-30.