As recent Pew Research Center data reveals White Christians are more concerned about non-existent racial discrimination, while non-White Protestants and non-Christian religious individuals think the bigger issue is genuine racism.
A New Survey
In April, Pew conducted a survey asking Americans what they considered the bigger issue with racism: overlooking racism when it exists or seeing racism where it is not.
They found that about half of Americans (53%) believed that not recognizing existing discrimination was the bigger problem, while slightly less (45%) stated that seeing discrimination where it does not exist was a more significant issue.
Patterns in Religious Groups
A closer look at religious groups revealed some interesting patterns. Among these groups, white Christians were most likely to worry about false racial discrimination.
The worry about false racial discrimination was mostly expressed by white Evangelicals (72%), white Catholics (60%), and white Mainline Protestants (54%).
In contrast, a small percentage of Black Protestants (10%), unaffiliated Americans (35%), and non-Christian religious Americans (31%) held this view.
The Religious People of Color
Conversely, Black Protestants (88%), non-Christian religious Americans (69%), unaffiliated Americans (64%), and Hispanic Catholics (60%) were more likely to say that the bigger problem was people not recognizing racism when it genuinely exists.
Fewer percentages of white Evangelicals (27%), white Mainline Protestants (44%), and white Catholics (39%) shared this perspective.
Even among unaffiliated Americans, often referred to as Nones, there were disparities based on racial identity. Within this group, 61% of White unaffiliated adults felt not recognizing racial discrimination is the primary issue, whereas 39% believed the opposite.
Among Non-White unaffiliated adults, 71% highlighted overlooking racial discrimination as the larger concern, while 29% held the opposite view.
An Increased Worry
These divisions regarding racial issues have increased among American Christians in recent times, especially due to the debates surrounding systemic racism and the “woke” movement.
This division among American Christians has created conflicts within religious bodies like the Southern Baptist Convention, led to disputes in local churches and Christian colleges, and even become a significant topic during presidential races.
Politics in Play
The difference in opinions is clear when examining the political landscape. A majority of White Americans (54%) saw believing in non-existent racism as the bigger issue, whereas 88% of Black Americans, 58% of Hispanic Americans, and 66% of Asian Americans said the real problem is not recognizing genuine racism.
Political affiliation also played a role in shaping these perspectives. Most Republicans and Republican-leaning individuals (74%) saw believing in non-existent racism as a more significant concern, while the majority of Democrats (80%) believed that the issue was not recognizing real racism.
Experts Way In
Some experts, like George Yancey, a sociology professor at Baylor University, emphasize the influence of politics on these divisions, indicating that religious institutions have not done enough to counteract this trend.
Going Beyond Politics
Similarly, sociologist Michael O. Emerson suggests that the issue goes beyond politics; he argues that the concept of being colorblind, where people disregard the impact of race, has become a theological stance deeply rooted in a unique “religion of whiteness.”
The response to this survey has people very divided with one msn user stating, In response to this survey one msn user commenting, “White Christians look for the content of one’s character, not the color of their skin, just like a Martin Luther King did.”
However, on the same post another user said, “White folks don’t deal with racism on a daily basis – of COURSE they don’t think it’s as bad as it is.”
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