The Spiritual Baptist faith is made up of African-American people whose religious beliefs combine elements of traditional African religion with Christianity. Despite the African influences, Spiritual Baptists are Christians and have churches all over the world. The religion's roots stem from the proceedings of the War of 1812 in which former slaves recruited by the British were taken to Trinidad, where they introduced the Baptist faith. It was here that African influences took shape on Baptist ideology and gave birth to a religion rich in history and tradition.
Spiritual Baptists are known for being very loud when they congregate and worship God. They are known throughout the world as "Shouters" for their shouting, chanting, bell-ringing and hand-clapping -- elements that come from African tradition and greatly contrast the more conservative method of praising in other Christian religions. Before the 20th century, laws were passed against "Shouters" because mainstream Catholic and Protestant churches were worried that the African population would be indoctrinated by them. From the religion's formation and well into the modern era, Spiritual Baptists believe one should rejoice in God by praising loudly with animated enthusiasm and loud verbal cries.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Spiritual Baptists believe in the sanctity of the Holy Trinity -- the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The "Trinidad Express" interviewed Archbishop Episcopus Barbara Gray-Burke on Spiritual Baptist Shouter Liberation Day, asking her about the faith's freedom to worship and general beliefs. Burke said she had given literature to the National Library and the University of the West Indies so young people could better understand the faith's relationship with God. Burke condemned rumors that her religion was that of the Obeah people (voodoo) and strongly defended her faith's worship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Spiritual Baptists are deeply rooted in preserving the physical and mental health of their community members and engage in missions to raise funds to help the less fortunate. The West Indian United Spiritual Baptist Sacred Order builds homes for the elderly who have no family to care for them. The order also provides youth outreach to troubled or at-risk teens. Spiritual Baptists engage in charitable work by following Christ's example in the New Testament: giving unto the poor and the less fortunate members of society.
Believing in the Bible
Spiritual Baptists believe in the divinity of the Old and New Testament and study the Bible just as their Western counterpart denominations do. Spiritual Baptists study the Bible to enhance their faith and to learn the lessons intended for Christians to follow. In some cases, they form Bible study groups at a church member's home in which people read and study the Bible within the setting of a community spirit, where they can exchange ideas and ask questions, thus strengthening their faith.
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