Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Kathryn McClymond - Chair

Second Advisor

Timothy Renick

Third Advisor

Gary Laderman


According to the National Rites of Passage Institute (NROPI), African Americans have lost their authentic identity, which has led to inauthentic, broken individuals and communities. In order to reverse these trends, according to NROPI, African Americans must rediscover their authentic identity through a rites of passage program that plucks them from a Eurocentric narrative and places them into an Afrocentric one. This thesis explores how NROPI is a religious response to adversity that takes on a decidedly American form of contemporary religiosity. I argue that by analyzing NROPI and other contemporary rites of passage programs through the lens of religious studies, scholars can gain a deeper understanding of how these programs fit into the broader American religious landscape, and provide commentary on the changing nature of that religiosity, and how their language and rituals can be used as rhetorical strategies for social cohesion and control.

Included in

Religion Commons