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CNN Asks: Black Preachers Who 'Whoop' – Minstrels or Ministers?

"Let me preach!"

"To whoop or not to whoop?"

Whooping is a celebratory style of black preaching that pastors typically use to close a sermon. Some church scholars compare it to opera; it's that moment the sermon segues into song.

Whooping pastors use chanting, melody and call-and-response preaching to reach parishioners in a place where abstract preaching cannot penetrate, scholars say.

Whooping preachers aim "to wreck" a congregation by making people feel the sermon, not just hear it, says the Rev. Henry Mitchell, a scholar who identified the link between whooping and African oral traditions.

"The old folks used to say, 'If you ain't felt nothing, you ain't got nothing,''' Mitchell says.

Yet the black church has long been ambivalent about whooping. Some scholars say contemporary black churches are abandoning whooping because they think it's crass. But more white preachers are discovering it through YouTube and by sharing the pulpit with black preachers.

The most persistent debate over whooping revolves around its legitimacy. Is it fair to call it an art form? What's so hard about a preacher screaming and sweating in the pulpit?

Read the rest of the debate here.

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