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Thought Experiment Racism among white Christians is higher than among the nonreligious. That's no coincidence. For most of American history, the light-skinned Jesus conjured up by white congregations demanded the preservation of inequality as part of the divine order. White Christians are consistently more likely than whites who are religiously unaffiliated to deny the existence of structural racism. Jones, author of "White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity" Over the last several weeks, the United States has engaged in a long-overdue reckoning with the racist symbols of the past, tearing down monuments to figures complicit in slavery and removing Confederate flags from public displays.
The legacy of this unholy union still lives in the DNA of white Christianity today — and not just among white evangelical Protestants in the Afrlcan. A close read of history reveals that we white Christians have not just been complacent or complicit; rather, as the nation's christiasn cultural power, we have constructed and sustained a project of perpetuating white supremacy that has framed the entire American story. By contrast, there is no ificant 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. To determine the breadth of these attitudes, I created a "Racism Index," a measure consisting of 15 questions deed to get beyond personal biases and include perceptions of structural injustice. Last year, in a national survey of more than 2, 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.
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Our fellow African American citizens, and indeed the entire country, are waiting to see whether we white Christians can finally find the humility and courage and love to face the truth about our long relationship with white supremacy and to dismantle the Christian worldview we built to justify it. Attending church more frequently does not make white congregants less racist.
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. One way to dismantle structural racism in America: Disband the two-party system July 14, As a white Christian who was raised Southern Baptist and shaped by a denominational college and seminary, it pains me to see these patterns in the data.
White Christians are consistently more likely than whites who are religiously unaffiliated to deny the existence of structural racism.
Moreover, these statistical models refute the assertion that attending church makes white Christians less racist. Among white evangelicals, in fact, the opposite is true: The relationship between holding racist views and white Christian identity is actually stronger among more frequent church attenders than among less frequent church attenders. But if we want to root out an insidious white supremacy from our institutions, our religion, and our psyches, we will have to move beyond forgetfulness and silence.
While it may seem obvious to mainstream white Christians today that slavery, segregation and overt declarations of white supremacy are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus, such a conviction is, in fact, a recent development for most white American Christians and churches, both Protestant and Catholic.
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The point to a stark conclusion: While most white Christians christias of themselves as people who hold warm feelings toward African Americans, holding racist views is nonetheless positively and independently associated with white Christian identity. Notably, the median score for each white Christian subgroup is ificantly above the median scores of the general population 0.
In the United States, Catholics and Catholic institutions were prominent slaveholders in the 18th and 19th centuries and forced enslaved people to convert to the religion. The legacy of this unholy union still lives in the DNA of african american christians Christianity today — and not just among white evangelical Protestants in the South, but also among white mainline Protestants in the Midwest and white Catholics in the Northeast. 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 christianss.
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Such early distortions influenced how white Christians came to embody and understand their faith and determined christiqns was handed down from one generation to the next. And while the national United Methodist Church publicly supported the civil-rights movement, most white Methodists in the pews rejected or simply ignored national denominational directives and actions.
Underneath the glossy, self-congratulatory histories that white Christian churches have written about themselves—which typically depict white Christians as exemplars of democratic principles and pillars of the community—is a thinly veiled, deeply troubling past. In lateth-century Maryland, for example, one-fifth of Catholics were enslaved people chrkstians by white Catholics or white Catholic institutions. Not surprisingly, given their history and strong presence in afrcan former states of the Confederacy, white evangelical Protestants have the highest median score 0.
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Sermons, curistians necessity, tended to be light on the themes of freedom and liberation in Exodus, for example, and heavy on the mandates of obedience and being content in one's social station from the New Testament writings of Paul. But little scrutiny has been given to the cultural institutions that legitimized the worldview behind these symbols: white Christian churches. Even at a glance, the Racism Index reveals a clear distinction. The median scores of white Catholics 0.
In public opinion polls, a clear pattern has emerged: White Christians are consistently more likely than whites who are religiously unaffiliated to deny the existence of structural racism. For most of American history, the light-skinned Jesus conjured up by white congregations demanded the preservation of inequality as part of the divine cnristians. Before the civil rights movement, it was common to call something 'racist.
Holding more racist views is a positive independent predictor of white Christian identity overall and for each of the three white Christian subgroups individually. In late 18th-century Maryland, one-fifth of those included in americaj Catholic census were enslaved people owned by white Catholics or white Catholic institutions.
Stephanie McCurry: The Confederacy was an antidemocratic, centralized state Similarly, nearly two-thirds 64 percent of white Christians see the killings of African American men by police as isolated incidents rather africwn part of a broader pattern.
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Virtually all of the major white mainline Protestant denominations split over the issue of slavery. Confronting historical atrocities is indeed difficult, and at times overwhelming. In the South, white Methodists and other mainline Protestants were hardly distinguishable from white Baptists in their support of a white-supremacist social order during the civil-rights era.
And white Christians are about 30 percentage points more likely to say monuments to Confederate soldiers are symbols of Southern pride rather than symbols of racism. And year over year, in question after question in public opinion polls, a clear pattern has emerged: White Christians are consistently more africab than whites who are religiously unaffiliated to deny the existence of structural racism.
How racial discrimination shapes religious convictions
Again, this troubling relationship holds not just for white evangelical Protestants, but also for white mainline Protestants and white Catholics. Related Opinion My alma mater is named for Robert E.
Through the entire American story, white Christianity has served as the central source of moral legitimacy for a society explicitly built to value the lives of white people over Black people. Please submit a letter to the editor. Even when white Christians try to engage in this work, too many reach immediately for racial reconciliation, which zfrican believe can be achieved through a straightforward transaction: white confession in exchange for Black forgiveness.
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. First, they assert that it is not white Christian identity itself but other intervening variables that for such correlations.