The rise of the “spiritual but not religious” designation has led to a decline of millennial participation in mainline religious traditions with many questioning the relevance, mission, and overall purpose of organized religion in the 21st century.
According to the 2015 Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Research Center, American millennials born between the years 1981 and 1996 are less religious than older Americans. The study affirms that millennials are less likely to ascribe to traditional forms of religious observance, but remain religious in their own right. They are finding and creating new spaces to have different kinds of conversations that are not offered in traditional religious contexts.
gOD-Talk is a groundbreaking project led by the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life in association with the Pew Research Center which seeks to:
- Uncover how millennials interact with religion and the transformative nature of community, the internet, and space.
- Amplify leading millennial voices including activists, entertainers, entrepreneurs, athletes, academicians, religious leaders, and politicians by creating a space for their experiences to be shared and documented.
- Create an opportunity for religious organizations and leaders, researchers, and engaged citizens to better understand the dynamic ways Black millennials engage with religion.
By using a lower case "g" for the word "gOD' we are highlighting the ways in which this project will "transgress" traditional boundaries and literal designations of that which is considered scared.
gOD-Talk: Reimaging Faith in the 21st century
gOD-Talk is the culmination project of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture Center for the Study of African American Religious Life, in association with the Pew Research Center, five-year study of Black Millennials. The featured length film explores the lives of seven Black Millennials—Atheist, Buddhist, Christians, Muslim, Ifa, and Spiritualist—and the challenges and discoveries with faith and spirituality.
According to the 2021 “Faith Among Black Americans Survey” conducted by the Pew Research Center, American millennials—persons born between the years 1981 and 1996—are less religious than older Americans. While millennials are less likely to ascribe to traditional forms of religious observance, the study maintains that they remain religious, nonetheless. With the rise of the “spiritual but not religious” designation has come the overall decline of participation in mainline religious traditions for Americans. While the decline in Black religious communities has not been as drastic as White communities, there are still lingering questions concerning the relevance, mission, and overall purpose of organized religion in the 21st century for Black American Millennials.
From issues pertaining to gender and sexuality, abuse and trauma, hip-hop culture and music, gentrification, race and racism, patriarchy, and more, the film explores a rising phenomenon of religious and spiritual shifts among the largest generation and one of the most influential demographics in the U.S, Black Millennials.
gOD-Talk: Documentary Discussion
Join us on October 23, 2023, from 7pm - 9pm for a special film screening of the gOD-Talk documentary. This thought-provoking film explores the intersection of religion and culture in African American history, providing a deeper understanding of the role of faith in shaping the African American experience and its impact on our world today.
Kevin Young, Executive Producer
Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Young served as the Director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture from 2016-2021, where he oversaw significant increases to its funding, archive acquisitions, and visitor reach. A professor for two decades, he began...
Kim Moir, Director, Writer, & Executive Producer
Teddy Reeves, Ph.D., Creator & Producer
Bacarri Byrd, Assistant Producer
Bryan C. Simmons, Music Director
Javicia Leslie Walker, Narrator
Candice M. Benbow
Reverend Michael Wortham
Nikkolas Smith, Movie Poster Illustrator
Nikkolas Smith, a native of Houston, Texas, is a Master of Architecture recipient from Hampton University. After designing theme parks at Walt Disney Imagineering for 11 years, he is now an ARTivist, Concept artist, Children's Books Author, Film Illustrator (Space Jam 2, Black Panther 2, Judah and the Black Messiah, Black Panther Wakanda Forever) and Movie poster designer (Black Panther, Soul, Beale Street, Southside With You, Dear White People, Stranger Fruit).
He is the author/illustrator of the picture books "The Golden Girls of Rio" (nominated for an NAACP Image Award), My Hair Is Poofy And That's Okay and World Cup Women . He is also the illustrator of #1 NYT Bestseller The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, I Am Ruby Bridges, Black Panther Wakanda Forever: The Courage To Dream, and That Flag.
Black Millennial Oral History Interviews
Since 2018, the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life has conducted more than 50 oral history interviews with Black Millennials on their faith and formation. Watch the full oral history interviews with these Black Millennials also featured in gOD-Talk.
Kionte “KiKi” Bryant, author, and creator of Uppity Negress Podcast (Chicago, IL) Atheist
Tyree Boyd-Pates, associate curator Autry Museum (Los Angeles, CA) Pentecostal Christian
Ihklas Saleem, co-founder of Identity Politics Podcast (Chicago, IL) Muslim
Prince Ben Asiel,
Anazogini Anne Khubeer, criminal justice officer, (Dallas, TX) Baha’i
Dr. Kholi Murchison, writer, diviner, and entrepreneur (Winston-Salem, NC) Christian
Holley M. Kholi-Murchison, artist, geographer, and homesteader (Winston-Salem, NC) Spiritual
Joshua Mangana, account executive (Dallas, TX) Hebrew
Alma Thomas, congregational member, Sisters of the Holy Family (New Orleans, LA) Roman Catholic
Dr. Aaron Matthews, musical director St. Charles Catholic Parish & School (Hartland, WI), Roman Catholic
Jade T. Perry, writer, speaker, educator, and artist (Chicago, IL) Rogue Churchy Mystic
Devi Brown, master well-being educator & healer, storyteller, corporate advisor, and author (Los Angeles, CA) Spiritual
Past gOD-Talk Episodes
Catch up on the first season of gOD-Talk by watching one of the seven episodes:
#gODTalk 2.0 | NOLA – Hip-Hop & #BlackFaith (Ep. 7)
#gODTalk | VA Beach – Black Millennials and the Black...
gOD-Talk: A Black Millennials and Faith Conversation is an award-winning web-series that explores the dynamic ways that Black Millennials...
#gODTalk | Dallas – Boomers, Xers, & Millennials Talk...
#gODTalk 2.0 | Baltimore – Technologies Influence on...
#gODTalk | Chicago – Black Millennials Shifting Views...
#gODTalk | Atlanta – Black Millennials Shifting Views...
#gODTalk | LA – Black Millennials Shifting Views on...
gOD-Talk New Orleans 2023
gOD-Talk Dallas 2021
gOD-Talk 2.0 Digital Black Faith 2020
gOD-Talk Los Angeles 2018
gOD-Talk Atlanta 2018
Film Shooting Photos
The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital by recognizing the influencers, creators, brands and organizations on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and more. gOD-Talk won the Audience Honor in Cultural Institutions, Facebook Partnership.