Religion: Bosumtwe to Baptism

"If a Negro is not a Baptist," they sometimes say down South, "someone has tampered with his religion." Last week this ecclesiastical wisecrack got scientific backing from Anthropology Professor Melville Jean Herskovits of Northwestern, who declared in The Myth of the Negro Past (Harper; $4) that the river cults of West Africa predisposed Southern Negroes to favor the Baptist Church.

"In the New World, where aggressive . . . Protestantism made the retention of the . . . African religion difficult . . . the most logical adaptation for the slaves . . . and the simplest, was to give their adherence...

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