Date: July 30, 2020 08:15PM
Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)
"Our models reveal that the more racist attitudes a person holds, the more likely he or she is to identify as a white Christian and vice versa."https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/white-christian-america-needs-moral-awakening/614641/
"In my day job, I am the CEO and founder of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts research on issues at the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. I’m a social scientist by training and have always been fascinated by the ways in which beliefs, institutional belonging, and culture impact opinions and behaviors in public space. I strive to conduct research and write as an impartial observer. In our work at PRRI, we’ve found that white Christian groups—including evangelicals, mainline Protestants, and Catholics—consistently hold views that are at odds with African American Protestants’ views. The attitudes of nonreligious white Americans, conversely, tend to be more aligned with African Americans’. For white Americans, the data suggest that Christian identity limits their ability to see structural injustice, and even influences them to see themselves, rather than African Americans, as a persecuted group.
For example, attitudes about what the Confederacy symbolizes today are one of the most noticeable differentiators among these groups. Last year, in a national survey of more than 2,500 Americans, PRRI found that 86 percent of white evangelical Protestants, along with 70 percent of white mainline Protestants and 70 percent of white Catholics, believe that the Confederate flag is more a symbol of southern pride than of racism. By contrast, only 41 percent of white religiously unaffiliated Americans and 16 percent of African American Protestants agree; approximately six in 10 religiously unaffiliated white people and three-quarters of African American Protestants see the Confederate flag mostly as a racist symbol.
Similarly, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of white Christians see the killings of African American men by police as isolated incidents rather than part of a broader pattern. There is some daylight here among white evangelicals (71 percent), white Catholics (63 percent), and white mainline Protestants (59 percent), but the differences are more a matter of degree than kind. And there is a 26-percentage-point gap between white Christians overall and religiously unaffiliated whites (38 percent agree they are isolated incidents) and a nearly 50-percentage-point gap between white Christians and African American Protestants (15 percent agree).
These patterns—of nonreligious white people holding attitudes closer to African American Protestants’ than white Christians’ of all stripes—persist in question after question on issues of racial justice. In order to see this more clearly, I developed a Racism Index comprising 15 separate questions that cover four broad areas: attitudes about Confederate symbols; racial inequality and African American economic mobility; racial inequality and the treatment of African Americans in the criminal-justice system; and general perceptions of race and racism.
Analysis of the composite Racism Index confirms the general pattern: White Christians are more likely than white religiously unaffiliated Americans to register higher scores. The median scores reveal similar attitudes among white Christian groups. Not surprisingly, given their history and strong presence in the former states of the Confederacy, white evangelical Protestants have the highest median score (0.78) on the Racism Index. But the median scores of white Catholics (0.72) and white mainline Protestants (0.69) are not far behind. These numbers stand out compared with the median scores of the general population (0.57), white religiously unaffiliated Americans (0.42), and Black Protestants (0.24).
Even when employing more sophisticated statistical models that control for a range of demographic characteristics, holding more racist attitudes is independently predictive of identifying as a white Christian and vice versa. The results of these models lead us to some remarkable and damning conclusions:
White Christians think of themselves as people who hold warm feelings toward African Americans, while simultaneously embracing a host of racist attitudes that are inconsistent with that assertion.
Holding more racist views is a positive independent predictor of white Christian identity overall and for each of the three white Christian subgroups individually. By contrast, holding more racist views has only a very weak effect on white religiously unaffiliated identity, and that effect is in the negative direction.
Attending church more frequently does not make white congregants less racist. On the contrary, there is a positive relationship between holding racist attitudes and white Christian identity among both frequent (weekly or more) and infrequent (seldom or never) church attenders.
When we reverse the analysis to predict racist attitudes, being affiliated with each white Christian identity is independently associated with an approximately 10 percent increase in racist attitudes. By contrast, there is no significant relationship between white religiously unaffiliated identity and holding racist attitudes.
Putting this in plain language, our models reveal that the more racist attitudes a person holds, the more likely he or she is to identify as a white Christian and vice versa.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/30/2020 08:18PM by anybody.