As per the latest data released by the Pew Research Center, the unsettling truth of racism and discrimination becomes more pronounced when examining the attitudes and beliefs held by various religious groups. Here’s the full story.
In a recent survey conducted by Pew in April, Americans were asked to weigh in on a critical question: Which issue poses a more significant challenge to the country regarding race – the tendency to overlook racism when it’s present or the inclination to perceive racism where it doesn’t exist?
A Sobering Picture
The results of this survey paint a sobering picture of the prevailing sentiments across the nation.
Does Racism Exist?
Slightly over half of Americans (53 percent) believe that the bigger problem is people not recognizing discrimination when it’s genuinely present.
The More Pressing Concern
In comparison, just under half (45 percent) contend that the more pressing concern is individuals attributing racism to situations where it doesn’t exist.
A Striking Disparity
Delving deeper into the data, a striking disparity emerges among different religious groups.
White Christians’ View
White Christians, in particular, appear more inclined to assert that claims about non-existent racial discrimination pose a more significant challenge.
This sentiment is most prominent among White Evangelicals (72 percent), White Catholics (60 percent), and White mainline Protestants (54 percent). Conversely, a markedly different perspective emerges from other religious groups.
Black Christians Think the Opposite
Ten percent of Black Protestants believe that seeing discrimination where it doesn’t exist is the greater issue.
Not Recognizing Racism When It Is Indeed Present
On the flip side, a significant majority of Black Protestants (88 percent), non-Christian religious Americans (69 percent), unaffiliated Americans (64 percent), and Hispanic Catholics (60 percent) contend that the larger problem lies in not recognizing racism when it is indeed present.
While the unaffiliated Americans, or “Nones,” predominantly express concerns about not acknowledging racism, these sentiments vary based on the race of the respondents.
Failure to Recognize Racial Discrimination
Among White unaffiliated adults, 61 percent identify the failure to recognize racial discrimination as the bigger problem, while 39 percent view the opposite as true.
In stark contrast, among Non-White unaffiliated adults, a substantial 71 percent maintain that overlooking racial discrimination is the more significant issue, compared to the 29 percent who hold the contrary view.
The deep divisions on issues of race have seen a noticeable escalation within American Christian circles over the past few years.
These divisions, often called the “woke war,” have pitted those who acknowledge systemic racism as an ongoing issue against those who deny its presence.
Race and Discrimination
Sociology professor George Yancey from Baylor University highlights that various surveys corroborate these divisions on matters of race and discrimination.
These Divides Have Persisted Largely Unaltered
Yancey notes that these divides have persisted largely unaltered, even after the protests triggered by George Floyd’s death.
Source of Polarization
He said, “I don’t think Christians are the source of polarization. But I do think we have not fought against it. We have accepted it and put it into our ministries rather than trying to show concern and care for people who disagree with us.”
The Religion of Whiteness
Sociologist Michael O. Emerson from Rice University delves deeper into the underlying factors. In his forthcoming book, “The Religion of Whiteness,” Emerson argues that the notion of being colorblind has taken on a theological dimension.
A Political Façade
He suggests that this sentiment isn’t just a political façade as it’s deeply intertwined with theology.
Emerson identifies the religion of whiteness as an American phenomenon, complete with its own symbols like White depictions of Jesus, the cross, the American flag, and even firearms.
“Racists Never Seem to Notice Racism”
Several social media users shared their thoughts on the situation. One Twitter user wrote, “Racists never seem to notice racism.”
They Never Saw Racism
Another user commented, “Many White Christians have never thought racism existed. They never saw racism when Native American lands were stolen as well.”
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