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Race, Religion, and Beliefs about Racial Inequality

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Abstract

This article focuses on stratification beliefs and racial policy opinions among white and black Americans who differ in religious preference. First, it summarizes earlier research on white conservative Protestants and outlines characterizations of Black Protestant church congregants. It then reports patterns of stratification beliefs and racial policy opinions among blacks and whites varying in religious preference who responded to the 1996 through 2006 General Social Surveys. Comparisons across twelve race-by-religion categories did not provide persuasive evidence that white conservative Protestants are uniquely conservative in their stratification beliefs, once background characteristics are controlled, nor was the Black Protestant group distinctive. Compared to blacks, whites were less inclined to structuralist explanations of racial inequality, slightly more inclined to individualist explanations, and consistently more negative about policies and programs to aid blacks. What is more, white Christians were more racially conservative in all these ways than non-Christian whites.

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... Edgell and Tranby (2007:281) point out that this finding "may reflect the personalized racial discourse in mainstream white institutions." Taylor and Merino (2011) find that when you control for background characteristics like region and education, evangelicals are not distinct in their racial views from other white Christian groups. However, white Christians were found to be more inclined to use individualist explanations and more opposed to race-based policies than white non-Christians (Taylor andMerino 2011). ...
... Taylor and Merino (2011) find that when you control for background characteristics like region and education, evangelicals are not distinct in their racial views from other white Christian groups. However, white Christians were found to be more inclined to use individualist explanations and more opposed to race-based policies than white non-Christians (Taylor andMerino 2011). Lichterman et al. (2009) also find that conservative white Christians hold more exclusionary views on topics like intermarriage. ...
... This work adds to an ongoing debate about the role of race in white evangelical churches. A significant body of work has established a link between the individualistic racial views exemplified by racial reconciliation with lack of support for policies that address racial inequality (Emerson and Smith 2000;Taylor and Merino 2011) and exclusionary racial views that promote a white Christian identity (Gorski 2017;Tope et al. 2017;Whitehead et al. 2018). Some scholars look at the evidence and argue that evangelicalism is a racial project aimed at preserving white dominance (Alumkal 2004;Tranby and Hartmann 2008). ...
Article
This article analyzes interviews with evangelical multiracial church pastors from the Religious Leadership and Diversity Project (RLDP), drawing on the framing literature from social movements. While a small number of evangelical pastors in the sample utilize a racial justice frame to understand and address racial issues, consistent with prior research, the data indicates that most evangelical multiracial church pastors use a racial reconciliation frame. This frame holds that racial conflict can be eliminated through shared faith, which allows churches to avoid politics and prioritize internal unity. However, findings reveal that the racial reconciliation can function as a suppressive frame that precludes discussions about racial inequality and discourages collective action to promote racial justice. The article discusses the implications of this for social change and cross-racial solidarity.
... This focus on non-structural solutions such as cross-racial friendship building, sometimes dubbed "racial reconciliation", helps us understand how White evangelicals can decry racial inequality while also proffering a solution that does nothing to change the root problem. Subsequent research has extended this argument to include all White Christians, regardless of Christian tradition (Taylor and Merino 2011;Hinojosa and Park 2004). ...
... How do they understand these inequities and to what extent does religion affect their views? Studies reveal that Black Christians are influenced by their religion and exhibit different perspectives on some social issues from Black non-Christians (Shelton and Emerson 2012;Taylor and Merino 2011). However, unlike their White counterparts who display some variation in perspectives toward racial inequality, Black Christians remain consistent across all denominations (Hinojosa and Park 2004). ...
... African American Christians, particularly those from historically Black churches and denominations, show that the script of individualism and the ideology of abstract liberalism do not necessarily emerge from all Christian theology and practice. In African American Christian theology, cultural scripts emphasize liberation and equality (Taylor and Merino 2011;Paris 1985). The Black Church has often been at the forefront of calls for institutional change to further guarantee equal opportunity for all (Pattillo-McCoy 1998;Edgell and Tranby 2007). ...
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Scholars in critical race and the sociology of religion have independently drawn attention to the ways in which cultural ideologies drive beliefs about inequalities between groups. Critical race work on “abstract liberalism” highlights non-racially inflected language that tacitly reinforces White socioeconomic outcomes resulting from an allegedly fair social system. Sociologists of religion have noted that White Evangelical Christian theology promotes an individualist mindset that places blame for racial inequalities on the perceived failings of Blacks. Using data from the National Asian American Survey 2016, we return to this question and ask whether beliefs about the importance of equal opportunity reveal similarities or differences between religious Asian American and Latino Christians and Black and White Christians. The results confirm that White Christians are generally the least supportive of American society providing equal opportunity for all. At the other end, Black Christians were the most supportive. However, with the inclusion of Asian American Christian groups, we note that second generation Asian American and Latino Evangelicals hew closer to the White Christian mean, while most other Asian and Latino Christian groups adhere more closely to the Black Christian mean. This study provides further support for the recent claims of religion’s complex relationship with other stratifying identities. It suggests that cultural assimilation among second generation non-Black Evangelical Christians heads more toward the colorblind racist attitudes of many White Christians, whereas potential for new coalitions of Latino and Black Christians could emerge, given their shared perceptions of the persistent inequality in their communities.
... Studies focusing on religious Americans in particular report similar findings. For example, when compared with religiously affiliated Whites, Blacks' understanding of racial inequality is more structural and less individualist (Emerson and Smith 2000;Hinojosa and Park 2004;Taylor and Merino 2011). While we know of no study that explores whether Hispanic and White religious affiliates differ in their explanations for Black/White inequality, Hispanic religious affiliates are more likely to endorse structural explanations of poverty in general than their White counterparts (Edgell and Tranby 2007;Hunt 2002). ...
... The dependent variables in this study are respondents' explanations for socioeconomic inequality between Blacks and Whites in the United States. We focus on structuralist and individualistic understandings of racial inequality, as used in previous research (Emerson et al. 1999;Hinojosa and Park 2004;Hunt 2002Hunt , 2004Hunt , 2007Taylor and Merino 2011). Three items ask whether or not racial discrimination, inadequate access to quality education, and Blacks' lack of motivation or willpower are important in explaining socioeconomic differences between Blacks and Whites. ...
... We use the motivation item (coded 1 for agreement and 0 for disagreement) to measure an individualist explanation for inequality. Our coding of these variables matches previous research by Taylor and Merino (2011). 4 ...
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This study examines the extent to which the racial composition of a congregation moderates explanations for Black/White inequality among White, Black, and Hispanic congregants. Using nationally representative data from General Social Surveys and National Congregations Studies, we find that religiously affiliated Blacks and Hispanics tend to hold different racial attitudes than religiously affiliated Whites, but these differences largely disappear inside multiracial congregations. Importantly, we find that attending a multiracial congregation is unassociated with Whites' explanations for racial inequality, and Blacks who attend multiracial congregations are actually less likely to affirm structural explanations for Black/White inequality than Blacks in nonmultiracial congregations or Whites in multiracial congregations. We find little evidence that multiracial congregations promote progressive racial views among attendees of any race or ethnicity. Rather, our findings suggest that multiracial congregations (1) leave dominant White racial frames unchallenged, potentially influencing minority attendees to embrace such frames and/or (2) attract racial minorities who are more likely to embrace those frames in the first place.
... Emerson and Smith's research has sparked a new debate about whether white evangelical Protestants' racial attitudes differ significantly from those of other whites [49,[51][52][53][54]. Evidence for the distinctiveness of evangelical Protestants' attitudes is mixed, however, and these studies have varied widely in their methodological approaches to the question. Whether their racial attitudes are distinct from other whites depends both on how one measures evangelical Protestantism and to whom one compares them [55,56]. Emerson and Smith's work, for example, focuses on the roughly 8 percent of whites who self-identify as -fundamentalist,‖ -evangelical,‖ or -Pentecostal‖ and express a belief in the Bible and in an afterlife. ...
... Emerson and Smith's work, for example, focuses on the roughly 8 percent of whites who self-identify as -fundamentalist,‖ -evangelical,‖ or -Pentecostal‖ and express a belief in the Bible and in an afterlife. Taylor and Merino [55,56] report that, even after controlling on background characteristics, these self-identified conservative Protestants are more likely than other religious groups to cite motivation or will power as reasons for black-white inequality and less likely to cite structural causes like discrimination or access to quality education. However, only in their high levels of opposition to spending on blacks do these Protestants show distinctive racial policy opinions. ...
... Members of dominant groups may be more likely to be exposed to the dominant ideology regarding race and racial inequality. In contrast, religious groups outside the Protestant/Catholic mainstream are minorities of a sort and may share a -religious underdog‖ perspective that positively inclines them toward other -out-groups‖ [58] Indeed, Taylor and Merino [55,56] find that the primary attitudinal divide among whites is between Christian groups and the more racially progressive non-Christians. In sum, if religious tradition helps to shape white Americans' racial attitudes, it may also contribute to their neighborhood racial preferences, as numerous studies have linked negative stereotypes about and negative attitudes toward minorities to a stronger preference for same-race neighbors [9][10][11][12][13]. ...
Article
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Research on racial residential segregation has paid little attention to the role that social institutions play in either isolating or integrating racial and ethnic groups in American communities. Scholars have argued that racial segregation within American religion may contribute to and consolidate racial division elsewhere in social life. However, no previous study has employed national survey data to examine the relationship between religious affiliation and the preferences people have about the racial and ethnic composition of their neighborhoods. Using data from the ―Multi-Ethnic United States‖ module on the 2000 General Social Survey, this study finds that white evangelical Protestants have a significantly stronger preference for same-race neighbors than do Catholics, Jews, adherents of ―other‖ faiths, and the unaffiliated. Group differences in preferences are largely accounted for by socio-demographic characteristics. Negative racial stereotyping and social isolation from minorities, both topics of interest in recent research on evangelical Protestants and race, fail to explain group differences in preferences.
... To measure attitudes toward racial inequality, especially regarding black Americans, we use three related measures (for other studies using these measures, see Cobb 2014;Cobb et al. 2015;Emerson, Smith, and Sikkink 1999;Hinojosa and Park 2004;Hunt 2007;Shelton and Emerson 2012;Taylor and Merino 2011). Each begins with the prompt, "On the average African Americans have worse jobs, income and housing than white people," with another follow-up question after which respondents are asked to state either "Yes" or "No" to signal whether they agree or not. ...
... Other studies have used multi-item scales to measure what they call "Christian nationalism" (Davis 2018a(Davis , 2018bMcDaniel et al. 2011;Merino 2010;Whitehead 2015a, 2015b;Shortle and Gaddie 2015;) and we believe that multi-item measures would be ideal. Nevertheless, the GSS is useful in that it provides a sufficient sample size of non-white Americans and provides tested measures of Americans' racial inequality attitudes (Cobb 2014;Cobb et al. 2015;Emerson et al. 1999;Hunt 2007;Shelton and Emerson 2012;Taylor and Merino 2011). ...
Article
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Recent research suggests that, for white Americans, conflating national and religious group identities is strongly associated with racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia, prompting some to argue that claims about Christianity being central to American identity are essentially about reinforcing white supremacy. Prior work has not considered, however, whether such beliefs may influence the racial views of non-white Americans differently from white Americans. Drawing on a representative sample of black and white Americans from the 2014 General Social Survey, and focusing on explanations for racial inequality as the outcome, we show that, contrary to white Americans, black Americans who view being a Christian as essential to being an American are actually more likely to attribute black-white inequality to structural issues and less to blacks’ individual shortcomings. Our findings suggest that, for black Americans, connecting being American to being Christian does not necessarily bolster white supremacy, but may instead evoke and sustain ideals of racial justice.
... Similarly, White Evangelical Protestants are more likely than other Whites to believe that Blacks should work their way up, like White European immigrants had in the past (Jackson et al. 2004). Given that White Conservative Protestants tend to embrace antistructuralist explanations for social inequality, it follows that they also tend to oppose policy solutions to social inequalities (Taylor and Merino 2011). For example, White Evangelicals are more likely than other Whites to support spending cuts to antipoverty programs, to oppose programs that target African Americans, and to oppose Affirmative Action (Brown et al. 2014(Brown et al. , 2016Taylor and Merino 2011). ...
... Given that White Conservative Protestants tend to embrace antistructuralist explanations for social inequality, it follows that they also tend to oppose policy solutions to social inequalities (Taylor and Merino 2011). For example, White Evangelicals are more likely than other Whites to support spending cuts to antipoverty programs, to oppose programs that target African Americans, and to oppose Affirmative Action (Brown et al. 2014(Brown et al. , 2016Taylor and Merino 2011). ...
Article
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Using Pew Research Center’s Voter Attitudes Survey from 2012, we assess the impact race has on the relationship between religious faith and worship attendance with support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We find that White Evangelicals, independent of partisan affiliation and social-demographic characteristics, are more likely than White Non-Evangelicals to reject the ACA. In addition, among Whites, support for the ACA weakens with increasing religious attendance, suggesting that responses to this law are shaped by experiences within religious settings. However, we find little evidence for religious faith or worship attendance associating with Black and Hispanic health-care policy attitudes.
... Previous literature suggests that there are two broad cultural accounts of inequality in the U.S. One account explains inequality in terms of historical or structural injustices. The other account explains inequality in terms of individual deficiencies in merit due to a lack of human capital investments or to a lack of motivation and talent (Davis and Robinson, 1991;Kluegel and Smith, 1986;Taylor and Merino, 2011). To provide theoretical leverage on these processes, we conceptualize these structural or meritocratic accounts as cultural schemas of inequality -deeply held, taken-for-granted assessments of broad differences in opportunities and outcomes between social groups. ...
... Contrary to meritocratic schemas is a view that understands inequalities as the result of structural processes, such as systematic stereotyping, discrimination, and marginalization. Structural schemas of inequality are cultural frames that are skeptical of claims of meritocracy and recognize ascriptive differences in social outcomes as primarily the result of interactional and institutional-level processes (Cech and Blair-Loy, 2014;Hunt, 2007;Kluegel and Smith, 1986;Lopez et al, 1998;Taylor and Merino, 2011). Structural schemas have not been the site of much scholarly investigation, but may be rooted in ''system challenging'' liberal, social constructivist, and/or rights-based narratives (Kluegel and Smith, 1986). ...
Article
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Why are some people more likely than others to recognize hostile or unfair interactions in local environments such as their workplaces? We argue that awareness of chilly climates is not simply a tally of instances of discrimination but an interpretive process framed by cultural schemas of inequality, deeply held cultural accounts of broad ascriptive group differences. We contend that schemas of inequality frame the way individuals interpret their day-to-day work environments, sharpening or distorting their ability to recognize unfair circumstances therein. To investigate the relationship between these cultural schemas and recognition of chilliness, we analyze survey data from a theoretically useful case of academic science and engineering (STEM) faculty. When accounting for patterns of under-representation in STEM generally, roughly half of respondents rely on meritocratic schemas, while half use schemas emphasizing structural barriers. Yet even net of demographics and personal experiences of marginalization at work, those using meritocratic schemas are less likely than those using structural schemas to recognize chilly departmental climates and chilly professional cultures. Our focus pivots analytical attention beyond individuals’ experiences of disadvantage toward the cultural schemas that shape whether co-workers, both dominant and non-dominant, recognize chilly interactions in their work environments that disadvantage women and minorities.
... To measure attitudes toward racial inequality, especially regarding black Americans, we use three related measures (for other studies using these measures, see Cobb 2014;Cobb et al. 2015;Emerson et al. 1999;Hinojosa and Park 2004;Hunt 2007;Shelton and Emerson 2012;Taylor and Merino 2011). Each begins with the prompt, "On the average African Americans have worse jobs, income and housing than white people," with another follow-up question after which respondents are asked to state either "Yes" or "No" to signal whether they 3 The 1996 GSS contains both these measures and including that data set (while controlling for year) did not substantively alter our findings. ...
... Other studies have used multi-item scales to measure what they call "Christian nationalism" (Davis 2018a(Davis , 2018bMcDaniel et al. 2011;Merino 2010;Perry andWhitehead 2015a, 2015b;Shortle and Gaddie 2015;) and we believe that multi-item measures would be ideal. Nevertheless, the GSS is useful in that it provides a sufficient sample size of nonwhite Americans and provides tested measures of Americans' racial inequality attitudes (Cobb 2014;Cobb et al. 2015;Emerson et al. 1999;Hunt 2007;Shelton and Emerson 2012;Taylor and Merino 2011). ...
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Recent research suggests that, for white Americans, conflating national and religious group identities is strongly associated with racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia, prompting some to argue that claims about Christianity being central to American identity are essentially about reinforcing white supremacy. Prior work has not considered, however, whether such beliefs may influence the racial views of nonwhite Americans differently from white Americans. Drawing on a representative sample of black and white Americans from the 2014 General Social Survey, and focusing on explanations for racial inequality as the outcome, we show that, contrary to white Americans, black Americans who view being a Christian as essential to being an American are actually more likely to attribute black–white inequality to structural issues and less to blacks’ individual shortcomings. Our findings suggest that, for black Americans, connecting being American to being Christian does not necessarily bolster white supremacy, but may instead evoke and sustain ideals of racial justice.
... This racial attitude is often rooted in a need to defend the social system as fair and just (Lambert, Burroughs, and Nguyen 1999). Denial of racial discrimination has been reliably demonstrated to predict opposition to race-targeted programs such as affirmative action (Bobo and Kluegel 1993;Kluegel and Smith 1983;Taylor and Merino 2011). This "minimization of racism" is thought to be a cornerstone of a more acceptable form of expression of racial animosity in a putatively color-blind society (Bonilla-Silva 2010). ...
Article
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How are the racial attitudes of police officers distinct from those of the public? How might the officer's own race shape those attitudes? Recent high-profile cases of contested uses of lethal force by white police officers against citizens of color have reanimated a long-established debate about the way(s) that race shapes police contact. While research has documented substantial racial disparities across a variety of criminal justice outcomes, little is known about how law enforcement officers might differ from citizens in the way that they think about citizens of color. Existing studies of such attitudes are often limited by the idiosyncrasies of small and unrepresentative samples. The present study overcomes these limitations by employing the first nationally representative survey comparing citizens and police a range of racial attitudes. Findings suggest that white police are, indeed, more racially resentful, more likely to see blacks as violent, and more likely to minimize anti-black discrimination than are white nonpolice. Black police officers, however, are not significantly more racially conservative than black citizens on any of the measures examined, lending modest evidence to the “selection effect” theory of Police Personality.
... Conversely, White Christians are more likely than the religiously unaffiliated and Non-Christians to accept the individualistic explanation of a lack of motivation on the part of Blacks as an explanation for racial inequality (Hinojosa and Park 2004;Eitle and Steffens 2009). It follows that Christians are more likely than the religiously unaffiliated and Non-Christians to oppose Affirmative Action and government spending for Blacks (Taylor and Merino 2011). ...
Article
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The current study relies upon the 2004 National Politics Study to examine the association between exposure to race-based messages within places of worship and White race-based policy attitudes. The present study challenges the notion that, for White Americans, religiosity inevitably leads to racial prejudice. Rather, we argue, as others have, that religion exists on a continuum that spans from reinforcing to challenging the status quo of social inequality. Our findings suggests that the extent to which Whites discuss race along with the potential need for public policy solutions to address racial inequality within worship spaces, worship attendance contributes to support for public policies aimed at reducing racial inequality. On the other hand, apolitical and non-structural racial discussions within worship settings do seemingly little to move many Whites to challenge dominant idealistic perceptions of race that eschews public policy interventions as solutions to racial inequality.
... Studies have suggested that Americans prefer individualistic strategies for addressing social problems, often at the expense of communities (Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, & Tipton, 1985;Kluegel & Smith, 1986). These findings hold up among white Protestants, with Evangelicals specifically more likely to describe inequality in individualistic ways than African-American Protestants (Taylor & Merino, 2011). One of the most comprehensive works in this area, Michael Emerson and Christian Smith's Divided by Faith, advances a thesis on why white Evangelicals are likely to favor individualistic explanations and solutions for racial inequality. ...
Article
Health disparities in the US pose a significant challenge to scholars, providers, and community activists. An ongoing transition to population health shifts the focus away from individual health outcomes to the prevention of disease and the wellbeing of communities. This approach, however, requires developing partnerships with communities to enact appropriate interventions. In this article, Evangelical churches, an important community institution in the US, are considered potential stakeholders in future health initiatives. We present qualitative findings from 29 Christian Evangelical Protestants, on how Evangelicals themselves view their role in caring for the health of their communities. Our findings suggest a need for: better understanding of the boundaries between (a) domains that require elite expertise, (b) domains in which non-elites such as pastors and parishioners can play a role, and (c) domains in which elites within churches might play an important role through volunteer efforts.
... There is a similar pattern with views of structural causes of inequality. Evangelical Protestants are relatively unlikely to support structural attempts to alleviate racial inequality (Taylor and Merino, 2011). Since the mid-1960s, there 7 I examined models identical to those in Appendix C but with two unaffiliated dummy variables: raised unaffiliated and switched to unaffiliated (results available on request). ...
Article
Although the association between evangelical Protestant and Republican affiliations is now a fundamental aspect of American politics, this was not the case as recently as the early 1980s. Following work on secular political realignment and the issue evolution model of partisan change, I use four decades of repeated cross-sectional survey data to examine the dynamic correlates of evangelical Protestant and Republican affiliations, and how these factors promote changes in partisanship. Results show that evangelical Protestants have become relatively more likely to attend religious services and to oppose homosexuality, abortion, and welfare spending. Period-specific mediation models show that opposition to abortion, homosexuality, and welfare spending have become more robust predictors of Republican affiliation. By the twenty-first century, differences in Republican affiliation between evangelical Protestants and other religious affiliates are fully mediated by views of homosexuality, abortion, and welfare spending; and differences in Republican affiliation between evangelicals and the religiously unaffiliated are substantially mediated by views of homosexuality, abortion, welfare spending, and military spending. These results further understanding of rapid changes in politico-religious alignments and the increasing importance of moral and cultural issues in American politics, which supports a culture wars depiction of the contemporary political landscape.
... Although there are several different strands of conservatism in the United States (Binder and Wood 2014;Hochschild 2016), political conservatism in general tends to be correlated with greater overt bias. Typically, net of race, gender, and age, political conservatism is related to greater distrust and distain for economically disadvantaged individuals (Dimock et al. 2014;Hochschild 2016), more biased views of racial/ethnic minorities (Greenwald et al. 2009;Taylor and Merino 2011), and more stereotypical views of women (Christopher and Mull 2006;Mulligan 2017). This connection between conservatism and bias is generally understood as the result of conservatives' typically greater adherence to traditional Christian religious ideologies, resistance to social change, and preference for a capitalist power hierarchy that privileges middle class white men (Wilson 1973;Zucker and Weiner 1993). ...
Article
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Opposition to social justice efforts plays a key role in reproducing social inequalities in the United States. Focusing on supporters of Donald Trump as a possible exemplar of politically structured resistance to these efforts, the author asks whether and why Trump supporters are more likely than other Americans to oppose social justice efforts. Analysis of a proportionally representative, postelection survey (n = 1,151) reveals that Trump supporters are indeed more opposed to social justice efforts. They also express greater overt race, class, and gender bias, yet this bias does not explain their opposition. Rather, many Trump supporters are “rugged meritocratists” who oppose these efforts because they believe U.S. society is already fair. To expand support for social justice efforts, rugged meritocratists must first be convinced that systemic inequalities still exist.
... Edgell and Tranby, 2007;Hinojosa and Park, 2004). Others suggest that the key divide may actually lie between Christians and non-Christians, with the former more likely to adopt individualistic explanations (Hunt, 2002;Taylor and Merino, 2011; see also Brown, 2009). While these inconsistent findings suggest that other factors besides theologically-derived cultural tools may drive religion's effect on beliefs about inequality, they nevertheless confirm that understandings of racial inequality vary by religious tradition. ...
... For instance, some studies investigate the socio-demographic correlates of people's explanations for unequal outcomes in general, while others focus on specific explanations for poverty [45,54] or racial inequality [46,55]. This difference in focus is reflected also in the different data sources used, ranging from theoretical samples [54] to probability samples of city or state populations [45,51,56] and the General Social Survey (GSS), representative of the entire US population [16,46,49,55,57]. ...
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A new wave of scholarship recognizes the importance of people’s understanding of inequality that underlies their political convictions, civic values, and policy views. Much less is known, however, about the sources of people’s different beliefs. I argue that scholarship is hampered by a lack of consensus regarding the conceptualization and measurement of inequality beliefs, in the absence of an organizing theory. To fill this gap, in this paper, I develop a framework for studying the social basis of people’s explanations for inequality. I propose that people observe unequal outcomes and must infer the invisible forces that brought these about, be they meritocratic or structural in nature. In making inferences about the causes of inequality, people draw on lessons from past experience and information about the world, both of which are biased and limited by their background, social networks, and the environments they have been exposed to. Looking at inequality beliefs through this lens allows for an investigation into the kinds of experiences and environments that are particularly salient in shaping people’s inferential accounts of inequality. Specifically, I make a case for investigating how socializing institutions such as schools and neighborhoods are “inferential spaces” that shape how children and young adults come to learn about their unequal society and their own place in it. I conclude by proposing testable hypotheses and implication for research.
... 1. Data collection for this paper was funded by the John Templeton Foundation, Religious Understandings of Science Study (Grant JTF #38817), Elaine Howard Ecklund, PI. 2. Some scholars have critiqued the definition of 'Black Protestant' put forth by Steensland and colleagues (2000), arguing there is more diversity within the denomination than implied (e.g., Taylor and Merino, 2011). Still, the use of the term helps to capture important structural distinctions between Black and White religious congregants. ...
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We ask how Black Protestants frame the connection between religion and science, analyzing fifty in-depth interviews with Black Protestants of different socioeconomic backgrounds who attend churches in two U.S. cities. Although individuals across the sample observe some tension, or incompatibility, between religion and science, Black Protestants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds tended to perceive much more tension when compared with those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. However, when science is thought to contribute to improving health conditions (e.g., medical improvements to diagnose or prevent birth defects), individuals from both SES backgrounds framed religion and science as compatible. This lack of tension in regards to medicine challenges prevailing wisdom about lower-income African Americans’ attitudes towards medicine. We draw out the implications of these findings for larger discussions about trust toward science and scientific communities, elucidating Black Protestant particularities and perspectives in tensions between science and religion as a foundation for further research.
... They argued that in the United States, powerful institutions (e.g., schools, the media, religion) reinforce these psychological tendencies by socializing Americans to believe that opportunities for upward mobility are plentiful and attainable through individual hard work. They found that Americans across the social spectrum adhere to this "dominant ideology" even when confronted with experiences that challenge it (Kluegel and Smith 1986;Taylor and Merino 2011). They noted that some people layer other beliefs (e.g., a recognition of racial discrimination) on top of this dominant ideology to create a dual consciousness, but they argued that the dominant ideology remains intact. ...
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Americans are quite optimistic about their chances of upward mobility, but sometimes even they have their doubts. The authors examine how mobility experiences boost or dampen American optimism about mobility and how the relationship is connected to religion. The authors find that Americans whose subjective financial situations have recently worsened are less optimistic, whereas those whose situations have improved are more optimistic. Objective measures of mobility were not connected to optimism. The authors also found that men affiliated with historically black Protestant denominations and Hispanic Catholic men and women are more optimistic than the religiously unaffiliated. Additionally, downward mobility is associated with different outcomes for different groups: very small drops in optimism among Hispanic Catholic women but unusually large drops among mainline Protestant and Hispanic Catholic men. The authors encourage more study of Hispanic Catholic women because their experiences may be useful for preserving optimism among other Americans during tough economic times.
... (Taylor & Merino, 2011). The relational spirituality observed thereon with differentiation of self and virtue predicts intercultural development(Sandage & Harden, 2011) as more often religious belief play a psychologically protective role for low Socio economic individuals who are independent of realistic economic concerns.(Brandt ...
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Objective: The study aims to empirically test the relationship between types of campus adaptations across student religion at birth of engineering undergraduate B. Tech students pursuing a four-year study at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT's) and National Institute of Technology (NIT's) in India. Method:-The Multivariate Analysis of Variance (Manova) test was run with SPSS vs. 21 to compare the student's campus adaptations of IIT's and NIT's by religion. Multistage random sampling with n = 1420 students were selected accounting for Hindus (n = 1206), Muslims (n = 45), Christian's (n = 29). Students belonging to other minority communities were Christians (n = 29), Jains (n = 24), Sikh (n = 08) and Buddhist (n = 03). However, the student population who surprisingly did not want to associate themselves with any religion loomed large with associating themselves with being called Indian (n = 28), humanity (n = 15), Atheist (n = 35) and not applicable (n =26).
... Other work (Emerson and Smith 2000) highlights how white evangelicals diverge from theologically like-minded Black Protestants in espousing individualistic (when compared to structural) understandings of inequality. Taylor and Merino (2011), however, problematize the work of Emerson and Smith (2000) by demonstrating that neither white evangelicals nor Black Protestants hold distinctive views about inequality net of background characteristics like socioeconomic status (see also Perry and Whitehead 2019). Such mixed findings might be explained by scholars' reliance on narrow conceptions of religion (often affiliation) and limited attention to how it intersects with an individual's social location, like socioeconomic class or race (Croll 2013;Frost and Edgell 2017). ...
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Ample research demonstrates how religious commitments influence beliefs about racial inequality within US society without considering how individuals’ explanations of inequality might differ with relationship to different racialized structures and institutions. Here we focus on science, an institutional sector perceived to be in tension with religious institutions and marked by persistent disparities in racial representation. Drawing on focus groups with fourteen pastors from twelve different churches, as well as interviews with twenty congregants, we find that Black and Latinx Christians in our sample draw on both individualistic and structural explanations of STEM inequality. Individualistic attributions, however, were primarily seen as products of structural constraints. Discursively, respondents saw STEM inequality resulting from not “seeing” aspects of science that would promote engagement. These results complicate prior work on religious understandings of racial inequality while also providing guidance for interventions designed to promote racial equality in STEM fields in particular.
... Conversely, White Christians are more likely than the religiously unaffiliated and Non-Christians to accept the individualistic explanation of a lack of motivation on the part of Blacks as an explanation for racial inequality (Hinojosa and Park 2004;Eitle and Steffens 2009). It follows that Christians are more likely than the religiously unaffiliated and Non-Christians to oppose Affirmative Action and government spending for Blacks (Taylor and Merino 2011). ...
Article
The current study relies upon the 2004 and 2008 National Politics Study to examine the association between exposure to race-based messages within places of worship and White race-based policy attitudes. This study suggests that the degree to which the racial justice frames of White congregants and their religious bodies impact support for race-based policies is informed by social-political conditions. In 2004, Whites that attend political houses of worship and view social inequality via structural frames become increasingly more likely than others to support Affirmative Action as they are exposed to racial discussions in their places of worship. In 2008, however, we observe no such relationship. We speculate that, relative to 2004, Barrak Obama’s successful 2008 Presidential run may have contributed to a belief that the problems of racism had been solved thereby lessening the impact of congregation-based racial justice messages on race-based policy attitudes. Furthermore, the state ballot initiatives all but outlawing Affirmative Action between 2004 and 2008 may have dampened the willingness of progressive religious organizations to emphasize continued support for such policies. Finally, the weakening of the U.S. economy may have also played a role in the reduced receptivity between 2004 and 2008 of even progressive Whites to racial justice messages within their houses of worship.
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Since the late 1970s, American evangelicals have been a potent influence in conservative politics. Recent scholarship both refines and contextualizes some of the central themes found in the broader literature on evangelical politics. We first review key recent scholarship in American religious history. It shows that current patterns of evangelical conservatism are the product of historically contingent social forces and that political conservatism was never uniform among evangelicals. We then discuss recent scholarship on evangelicals' attitudes toward public issues. This work indicates that commitment to moral traditionalism on social issues is the dominant force animating evangelical political conservatism and that evangelicals remain distinctly Republican in their partisan voting despite economic and foreign policy commitments that are not as strongly aligned with Republican priorities. We then shift our focus to the dominant conservative movement of the moment: the Tea Party. We cite evidence that evangelicals and the Tea Party remain distinct in terms of constituents and issue priorities but that social concerns may be taking precedence over the economic concerns that birthed the movement. We conclude by discussing recent trends that suggest that a de-alignment between evangelicalism and conservative politics may be underway.
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This study examines the relationship between racial contestation and colour-blind ideology adherence. Using the first nationally representative study to ask respondents directly about personal racial identity and external racial ascription, I compare the racial conceptualizations of contested and non-contested whites. Contested whites are individuals who identify racially as white, but who are perceived by others as non-white. Contested whites find themselves at the margins of whiteness, betwixt and between categories of racial dominance and racial marginalization. One might hypothesize that because contested whites are socially perceived as non-white, that they would be more aware of racial marginalization in social life, and would therefore exhibit more progressive racial views. However, this study finds that the opposite is true. Results of ordinal logistic regression analyses suggest that individuals placed at the margins of whiteness may seek to legitimate group membership as white by expressing similar and sometimes even amplified notions of colourblindness than their non-contested white counterparts.
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Scholars have grappled with how religion in the United States shapes attitudes toward racial inequality, often by focusing on racial inequality as out-group disadvantage. The current study extends this research by moving beyond racial inequality as out-group disadvantage to examine how religious conservatism and sanctification of social justice (i.e., attributing spiritual or religious significance to working for social justice) are associated with attitudes toward racial in-group advantage: white privilege. Using canonical correlation analysis with 475 white Catholic and Protestant students, results showed religious beliefs and white privilege attitudes were connected in two ways: (1) sanctification of social justice was positively associated with a dimension defined by greater willingness to confront white privilege and greater white privilege remorse and awareness and (2) religious conservatism was negatively associated with a dimension defined by greater awareness of white privilege. This shows how religion may facilitate or inhibit awareness and action related to white privilege.
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With religion serving an important role in shaping individuals’ stances on moral issues, the question of how religion impacts major social and political issues is of undeniable consequence. This paper explores both the response of Christian denominations in the USA to the evolving social dialog on abortion and the stances of affiliated members in relation to those denominational stances. For the first aspect, the organizational and authority structures of the denominations in question were examined to see if they play a role in how denominations responded to this social issue. For the second aspect, General Social Survey data were used to examine the general stances on abortion of the religiously affiliated belonging to specific polities over the past half-century. Polities were selected due to their similar organizational structures, as this granted insight into possible organizational influence at the individual level. This research highlights both the dissimilarities between similarly structured religious organizations and the general mindsets of the congregations on abortion as well as how the varying organizational structures in question exhibit inherent differences between one another yet have relative stability in their positions on abortion over time.
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The authors provide an analytical review of the past 115 years of scholarship on race, ethnicity, and religion. Too often work in the study of race and ethnicity has not taken the influence of religion seriously enough, with the consequence being an incomplete understanding of racialization, racial and ethnic identity, and racial inequality. The authors examine key works in the field; conduct an assessment of articles published on race, ethnicity, and religion in six journals over a five-year period; and outline where scholarship should head in future years. Most notably, until the mutual influences of race, ethnicity and religion are better understood, the power of each is underestimated.
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Conventional wisdom holds that Christians, as members of a "universal" religion, all believe more or less the same things when it comes to their faith. Yet black and white Christians differ in significant ways, from their frequency of praying or attending services to whether they regularly read the Bible or believe in Heaven or Hell. In this engaging and accessible sociological study of white and black Christian beliefs, Jason E. Shelton and Michael O. Emerson push beyond establishing that there are racial differences in belief and practice among members of American Protestantism to explore why those differences exist. Drawing on the most comprehensive and systematic empirical analysis of African American religious actions and beliefs to date, they delineate five building blocks of black Protestant faith which have emerged from the particular dynamics of American race relations. Shelton and Emerson find that America's history of racial oppression has had a deep and fundamental effect on the religious beliefs and practices of blacks and whites across America.
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Understanding cultural beliefs about social and economic inequality is vital to discerning the roadblocks and pathways to addressing that inequality. The foundation of concern for inequality is laid during adolescence, yet scholars understand little about the factors that influence whether and how adolescents come to express such concern. Arguing that structural and cultural contexts are just as consequential as whether adolescents themselves are members of disadvantaged groups, I draw on four theoretical perspectives to identify factors that influence adolescents' concern for addressing inequality: the underdog thesis, intergroup contact theory, the education enlightens thesis, and ideological buttressing. Using representative restricted-use Educational Longitudinal Survey data, I find that 12th-graders’ beliefs are indeed influenced by more than their own demography: the diversity of their social milieu, the content of education in and out of the classroom, and ideological buttressing via political region and entertainment all influence whether they express concern for addressing inequality. These findings suggest extensions and amendments to the four theoretical perspectives and underscore the importance of studying structural and cultural factors that shape beliefs about inequality. The results also point to several interventions that may increase students’ concern for inequality: involvement in civic-oriented extracurricular activities, more education in academic subjects that consider inequality, nurturing of cross-race friendships, and increased leisure reading.
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Objective Citing the black family as the locus of responsibility for black disadvantage has a long history in the United States; however, only limited research has examined the place of family upbringing in studies of Americans’ beliefs about the causes of racial inequality. Methods We use data from the 2010, 2012, and 2014 General Social Surveys (GSS) to examine the prevalence and selected correlates of a newly offered (by the GSS) and culturally centered explanation of the black/white socioeconomic status gap focusing on “differences in upbringing.” Results The “upbringing” explanation is the most popular of the five reasons offered by the GSS in all three waves of data available for examination. Three-quarters of GSS respondents endorse this view, while less than half endorse the next most popular explanation. Upbringing is also the most popular explanation among all three race/ethnic groups we examine, though non-Hispanic whites endorse this view most strongly. Conclusion Our results offer important insights for future survey design and investigations of public beliefs about racial inequality.
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Self-attribution bias operates in social mobility attributions, with positive circumstances triggering individualist attributions (attributed to one's merits) and negative circumstances triggering structural attributions (attributed to one's race, religion, sex, social connections). Analyses of East Asian and Pacific data of the International Social Survey Programme's Social Inequality Module show that perceived social inequality (PSI) leads to structural attributions, while high subjective social position (SSP) leads to individualist attributions. Cultural contexts, however, support or temper self-attribution bias, thus modifying the effects of PSI and SSP. Cross-level interactions show that the effect of PSI on structural attributions is larger in small power-distance countries, while the effect of SSP on individualist attributions is larger in countries with small power distance, high individualism, and low country average for SSP. That a small power distance strengthens the effects of PSI on structural attributions and of SSP on individualist attributions suggests contrasting scenarios, where disadvantaged groups devalue their competencies for mobility, while privileged groups believe themselves deserving of better outcomes. The context-dependency of the SSP effect suggests the modifiability of individualist attributions. These results help explain why mobility attribution profiles of Australia and New Zealand differ from those of China, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan.
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The contributors to Embodying Black Religions in Africa and Its Diasporas investigate the complex intersections between the body, religious expression, and the construction and transformation of social relationships and political and economic power. Among other topics, the essays examine the dynamics of religious and racial identity among Brazilian Neo-Pentecostals; the significance of cloth coverings in Islamic practice in northern Nigeria; the ethics of socially engaged hip-hop lyrics by Black Muslim artists in Britain; ritual dance performances among Mama Tchamba devotees in Togo; and how Ifá practitioners from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad, and the United States join together in a shared spiritual ethnicity. From possession and spirit-induced trembling to dance, the contributors outline how embodied religious practices are central to expressing and shaping interiority and spiritual lives, national and ethnic belonging, ways of knowing and techniques of healing, and sexual and gender politics. In this way, the body is a crucial site of religiously motivated social action for people of African descent. Contributors. Rachel Cantave, Youssef Carter, N. Fadeke Castor, Yolanda Covington-Ward, Casey Golomski, Elyan Jeanine Hill, Nathanael J. Homewood, Jeanette S. Jouili, Bertin M. Louis Jr., Camee Maddox-Wingfield, Aaron Montoya, Jacob K. Olupona, Elisha P. Renne
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Are conservative Protestants distinct in their support for individualistic explanations of racial inequality in America? Past research has generated contradictory findings on this question, along with debates about the best measure of evangelicalism and the factors that moderate religious influences on racial attitudes. Using data from the nationally representative Boundaries in the American Mosaic Project (2014), we examine how structural location interacts with religious commitment to influence understandings of and preferred solutions to African-American disadvantage. We show that religious beliefs, involvement, and centrality influence adherents differently, depending on their age, gender, education, income, and race. We find that measures do matter, and that denominational affiliation is less predictive than the orthodoxy and centrality of religious belief. We also find that straightforward talk about distinctiveness can mask the strong and pervasive effects of structural location on racial attitudes. We call for more research that makes the interaction between religiosity and structural location a central focus of analysis.
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Do African Americans, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites differ in their explanations of the socioeconomic divide separating blacks and whites in the United States? Have such explanations changed over time? To answer these questions, I use data from the 1977 to 2004 General Social Surveys (GSS) to map race/ethnic differences in support for, trends in, and the determinants of seven “modes of explanation” for blacks' disadvantage. Trends over time indicate the continuation of a long-standing decline in non-Hispanic whites' use of an ability-based (innate inferiority) explanation. Non- Hispanic whites' beliefs in a purely motivational and a purely educational explanation are increasing, however, along with the view that none of the explanations offered in the GSS explain blacks' disadvantage. African Americans and Hispanics also evidence increases in a purely motivational explanation, but they differ from non-Hispanic whites in demonstrating clear declines in structural beliefs—especially the perception that discrimination explains blacks' lower socioeconomic status. These conservative shifts in blacks' and Hispanics' beliefs result in greater similarity with non-Hispanic whites over time. Notably, however, significant “static” race/ethnic group differences remain: non- Hispanic whites score highest, and blacks lowest, on a purely motivational explanation, while African Americans are more likely than both non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics to endorse a discrimination-based explanation. I conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for racial policy support.
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How does religion influence the way Americans understand the racial inequality that pervades our society? Only a few studies have explored this question, concentrating on how religious conservatism affects whites' views, and generating conflicting findings. Using data from a national random sample telephone survey (Edgell, Gerteis, and Hartmann 2003, N = 2081), we find that among whites, both gender and education shape the effects of religious conservatism on attitudes toward racial inequality. We show that religious subcultural effects are different for African Americans and Hispanic Americans than they are for whites. We also find that, across religious subcultures, the more religiously involved have less progressive views on racial equality than those who are less involved. We demonstrate the interaction of religious subculture, race, education, and gender in forming American's views of racial inequality and we identify other religious effects on views of racial inequality not explored in previous research. We argue that to understand how religion shapes racial attitudes we need to do more in-depth research on the religious subcultures of non-whites, expand our focus beyond conservative Protestants, take into account religious institutional factors that operate across religious subcultures, and explore the structural factors that shape the use of religious cultural tools in forming racial attitudes.
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This research examines (1) whether a comparative study of African Americans and whites in a nationwide sample bears out the widespread assumption of a distinctive African American religiosity (when region and other factors are controlled), and (2) whether any race differences provide support for the "semi-involuntary" interpretation of African American religious involvements. Using data from the 1974­94 General Social Surveys, we examine how a variety of indicators of religious involvement vary by race and region. We find two basic types of evidence qualifying the assertion of a generalized heightened religiosity among African Americans. First, in analyzing three major subregions of the U.S., we find that African Americans, compared with whites, are no more religiously involved in the rural South, exhibit consistently higher religious involvement in the urban South, and show lower levels of religious involvement in the urban North. Second, in analyzing various types of church attendance (i.e., "weekly," "intermittent," and "infrequent"), we find that African American church attendance is distinctive mainly at an intermittent (e.g., monthly) rather than weekly level. These findings suggest that the rural South produces distinctive patterns of church attendance across racial lines, perhaps reflecting the legacy of segregation and the central importance of the church in rural community life. The markedly different urban patterns by region point to some important areas for further research into the semi-involuntary thesis.
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Recently, scholars have devoted renewed attention to the role of religion in American life. Thus, it is important that they use the most effective means available to categorize and study religious groups. However, the most widely used classification scheme in survey research (T.W. Smith 1990) does not capture essential differences between American religious traditions and overlooks significant new trends in religious affiliation. We critique this scheme based on its historical, terminological, and taxonomical inaccuracy and offer a new approach that addresses its shortcomings by using denominational affiliation to place respondents into seven categories grounded in the historical development of American religious traditions. Most important, this new scheme yields more meaningful interpretations because the categories refer to concrete religious traditions. Because of increased accuracy in classification, it also improves model fit and reduces measurement error.
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This study investigated race differences in religious involvement across several national probability samples. It employed various measures of religious involvement, and controlled for key sociodemographic variables. The findings reveal that African Americans exhibit higher levels of religious participation than do whites regardless of sample or measures.
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In an exploratory study of matched samples in England and the United States, we construct a path model that explains 26% and 39%, respectively, of the variance in social judgments about the fairness or unfairness of equality. The underdog principle, from which we predict that egalitarians compared to inegalitarians are more likely to be nonwhite, to have low prestige occupations, to have low family incomes, and to identify with the lower and working classes, is accepted. The principle of enlightenment, from which we predict a positive relationship between education and favorable attitudes toward equality, is accepted for England but not for the United States. The principle of an egalitarian Zeitgeist, from which we predict younger people are more egalitarian than older people, is accepted for the United States but not for England. Two additional important causal variables are found. First, a sense of personal equity, that is, a belief that a person has the standard of living that he/she deserves, reduces egalitarian attitudes in England more than in the United States and may reflect a cultural belief that British society is extraordinarily just because social arrangements result from fair rules of the game. While it is of no importance in England, the cultural belief in monetary success reduces egalitarian attitudes in the United States and functions as the belief in the just society does in England.
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In a sample of southern Californians, three questions were investigated: (1) Are there race/ethnic differences in beliefs about the causes of poverty? (2) Do two social psychological variables, namely internal and external self-explanations, significantly affect beliefs about poverty net of respondents' background characteristics? and (3) Do the determinants of beliefs about poverty differ for blacks, Latinos, and whites? Results indicate that in each case the answer is yes. First, blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to view both individualistic and structuralist explanations for poverty as important Second, respondents' self-explanations have significant effects on poverty beliefs. Lastly, the patterns of effects of several variables that predict beliefs about poverty differ across race/ethnic groups. Results confirm, contradict, and extend current knowledge of beliefs about poverty.
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Whites' explanations for the black-white gap in socioeconomic status are examined using General Social Survey data for 1977 to 1989. While there has been a significant decline in the percentage of whites attributing the gap to innate inferiority of blacks, individualistic explanations of the gap still predominate. Most individualistic explanations stress lack of motivation among poor blacks, and are widely held among whites who otherwise express little or no traditional prejudice. Whites' explanations for the racial economic gap influence their attitudes toward government policies to improve the status of blacks, independent of sociodemographic characteristics and prejudice. These results help explain a paradox of contemporary racial attitudes, and suggest that white public opinion has reached an era of stable acceptance of the black-white economic gap.
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In this study we examine the thesis that the black church represents a semi-involuntary institution with patterns of attendance shaped by dynamics of segregation in the rural South. We replicate the analyses of Ellison and Sherkat (1995) — who found distinctive church participation patterns in the rural South — through an examination of church attendance in two nationally representative data sets (the General Social Surveys for 1972–94 and the 1984 National Alcohol Survey). We explore levels of African American church attendance and how selected covariates of attendance differ by region. We find no evidence of distinctive overall attendance levels in the rural South but we do find some modest support for key implications of the semi-involuntary thesis.
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This paper presents available statistical data on black Catholics in the United States and examines growth and redistribution trends, including the reportedly increasing number of adult Negro converts to Catholicism. Several exploratory hypotheses designed as guides for further research are developed to account for the appeal of the Catholic Church to Negroes.
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Culture influences action not by providing the ultimate values toward which action is oriented, but by shaping a repertoire or "tool kit" of habits, skills, and styles from which people construct "strategies of action." Two models of cultural influence are developed, for settled and unsettled cultural periods. In settled periods, culture independently influences action, but only by providing resources from which people can construct diverse lines of action. In unsettled cultural periods, explicit ideologies directly govern action, but structural opportunities for action determine which among competing ideologies survive in the long run. This alternative view of culture offers new opportunities for systematic, differentiated arguments about culture's causal role in shaping action.
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Using 1996-2000 General Social Survey responses from non-Hispanic whites, we test claims of earlier researchers that conservative Protestant theology encourages adherents to prefer individualistic rather than structuralist explanations for racial inequality. Methodological issues are central to this research, as special attention is given to the comparisons on which conclusions rely. We use two alternate definitions of conservative Protestantism: one based on denominational preference, the other on self-identification and beliefs. Conservative Protestants defined in each fashion are compared to five other religious categories, and results are reported with and without controls for such background characteristics as education and region of residence. Findings indicate the need for important qualification to claims about the influence of religion on attributions for racial inequality. Among the large group of denominationally defined conservative Protestants, attributions prove to be minimally different from those of other demographically similar Christians. Self-identified conservative Protestants are more individualistic and less structural than other white Christians, even after controls, but this group is small. The primary attitudinal divide is between Christian groups and the more racially progressive non-Christians—Jews, adherents of other faiths, and the unaffiliated.
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To further understanding of Americans' explanations for racial inequality, and the implications these explanations have for reducing black-white socioeconomic inequality, we explore the role of religion. We argue that the cultural tools of a religious subculture shape the rationale for racial inequality. Examining white conservative Protestants, who comprise nearly 25 percent of white Americans, we identify religious cultural tools we call “accountable freewill individualism,” “anti-structuralism,” and “relationalism.” Based on these, we hypothesize that white conservative Protestants explain inequality in more individualistic and less structural terms than other white Americans. We also expect them to emphasize perceived dysfunctional social relations among African Americans in their explanations. Using the 1996 General Social Survey and qualitative data from 117 in-depth interviews, these hypotheses are clearly supported. Religion, it appears, has an independent effect on explanations of racial inequality. Based on these findings, we suggest that rationales for racial inequality are not mere defenses of socioeconomic privilege, but, more fundamentally, defenses of identity, culture, and worldview.
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In recent years, the leaders of the American evangelical movement have brought their characteristic passion to the problem of race, notably in the Promise Keepers movement and in reconciliation theology. But the authors of this provocative new study reveal that despite their good intentions, evangelicals may actually be preserving America's racial chasm. In Divided by Faith, Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith probe the grassroots of white evangelical America, through a nationwide telephone survey of 2,000 people, along with 200 face-to-face interviews. The results of their research are surprising. Most white evangelicals, they learned, see no systematic discrimination against blacks; indeed, they deny the existence of any ongoing racial problem in the United States. Many of their subjects blamed the continuing talk of racial conflict on the media, unscrupulous black leaders, and the inability of African Americans to forget the past. What lies behind this perception? Evangelicals, Emerson and Smith write, are not so much actively racist as committed to a theological view of the world that makes it difficult for them to see systematic injustice. The evangelical emphasis on individualism, free will, and personal relationships makes invisible the pervasive injustice that perpetuates inequality between the races. Most racial problems, they told the authors, can be solved by the repentance and conversion of the sinful individuals at fault. Combining a substantial body of evidence with sophisticated analysis and interpretation, Emerson and Smith throw sharp light on the oldest American dilemma. Despite the best intentions of evangelical leaders and some positive trends, the authors conclude that real racial reconciliation remains far over the horizon.
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Culture consists of rhetorical, interactional, and material tools that are organized into strategies of action. Social movement theory is beginning to recognize the role of culture in facilitating or frustrating collective organizing. I use social constructionism as an analytical approach to bridge social movement and cultural theory Social constructionists ask how social action is constructed, rather than what issues or ideas are being constructed. Using data from more than three years of ethnographic research in Groveland, an African American neighborhood in Chicago, I find that the black church provides. a cultural blueprint for civic life in the neighborhood. Prayer call-and response interaction, and Christian imagery are important parts of the cultural "tool kit" of Groveland's black residents, and these cultural practices invigorate activism. Particular theological foundations of black Christianity-especially its collective ethos and the nation. of God as active in earthly affairs-support the content of secular activism. Black church culture constitutes the taken-for-granted practices that put civic efforts into action.
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Jews are more likely to be liberal on racial-political issues than non- Jewish whites, even after controlling for factors such as educational achievement and ideology. Propositions derived from attribution theory are used to explain the residual difference between Jews and non-Jews. I argue that Jews are less likely than other whites to attribute Black circum stances to their personal characteristics, which, according to attribution theory, is a very natural response to outgroups, and more likely to explain the Black condition as the product of external forces. These attributions, in turn, have a liberalizing effect on Jewish racial attitudes. Finally, I specu late that Jews characterize Blacks differently because of their experience as part of an often ostracized minority. It is those Jews most likely to have experienced this status (older Jews) who are most distinctive in their at tributions and their racial-political attitudes.
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Data drawn from a well-known survey of 2,667 registered U.S. Catholic parishioners (part of the Notre Dame Study of Catholic Parish Life) were used to examine the ways in which black Catholics differ from white Catholics in the patterns -- and predictors -- of religious devotionalism and spirituality. Black Catholics were found to display higher levels of the more private styles of religious devotion and report a greater frequency of spiritual experiences than white Catholics. Especially interesting are the high rates of participation by black Catholics in a variety of traditional, uniquely Catholic styles of devotion. Contrary to expectations, the correlates of religiosity for black and white Catholics tend to be similar. For both groups, social network variables are the strongest net predictors of every measure of religiosity.
Contends that the commitment to equal employment opportunity policy—affirmative action (AA)—can at best be described as foundering and can at worst be seen as in retreat. It is proposed that the reason for this situation is found in an examination of the public's understanding of the problem—the public perception of the substance of race differences in socioeconomic status (SES) and how they account for these differences. It is argued that Whites' overall view of opportunity for Blacks leads Whites to perceive AA as unnecessary or acceptable only as equal opportunity policies that are individualistic in nature (i.e., programs that change Blacks to better fit into the current stratification order (SO) rather than calling for change in the SO itself). Research on Whites' understanding of AA and theory and research concerning the roots of Whites' beliefs about Blacks' opportunity are reviewed. Implications of the prevailing understanding of race differences in SES for present-day AA attitudes and the future course of AA policy are discussed. (39 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Although the overwhelming majority of religious congregations consist of members who share the same racial background, there are a significant number of multiracial congregations in the United States. We begin with an analysis of why most congregations remain uniracial despite racial integration in other institutions. Then, based on our two-year national study, we examine the key variables underlying the development of multiracial congregations. Specifically, we consider the primary impetus for change and the source of racial diversification. Based on the analysis of how some congregations have become multiracial, we present a typology of multiracial congregations. We find seven main types. It is our hope that the typology and analysis will illuminate the effects of racial diversity on the life cycle of congregations and serve as a useful framework to guide future studies of multiracial congregations. Ultimately, we intend this article to facilitate the development of formal theory and research on the genesis and sustainability of multiracial congregations. To that end, we conclude the article by offering hypotheses suggested by the typology and its underlying causes.
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There appears to be an interesting paradox in American attitudes toward racial inequality: while Americans almost universally see inequality as a social evil, they also consistently oppose government programs to remedy it. This discrepancy appears to result from accounts for the causes of inequality: if inequality is caused by individual failures, rather than structural conditions, then government solutions to racial inequality are unlikely. We examine the role of religion in the formation of attitudes concerning racial inequality for both blacks and whites. Using logistic regression on data from the 1996 General Social Survey, we find that the inclusion of African Americans and multiple religious traditions further complicates the story behind contemporary debates over attitudes pertaining to racial inequality.
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Scholars have recently examined the role of black churches ein einitiatingcivil rights and social justice activities, community development and rehabilitation projects, and family support and community health outreach programs. Practically all of this research has been on black Protestant churches. This article seeks to address this gap in the literature byinvestigating the extent to which African-American Catholic congregations engage in social action and social service programs in their communities. Data drawn from a nationwide survey of U.S. Catholic parishes are us d to show that black church s are significantly more likely than white churches to engage in social service and social action activities independent of a variety of demographic, organizational, and structural factors known—or suspected—to influence activism. This finding lends support to the argument that the extra-religious functions of black churches—Protestant and Catholic—are more deeply ingrained in these religious institutions than is suggested by some analysts. Equally significant is the finding of positive and significant relationships between churches that have parish councils and leadershiptraining programs and congregational activism. This finding lends support to previous findings that suggest that the organizational structure of religious institutions may influence churchgoers opportunities for learning and practicing civic skills relevant to community activism.
Article
More Americans belong to religious congregations than to any other kind of voluntary association. What these vast numbers amount to--what people are doing in the over 300,000 churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples in the United States--is a question that resonates through every quarter of American society, particularly in these times of "faith-based initiatives," "moral majorities," and militant fundamentalism. And it is a question answered in depth and in detail in Congregations in America . Drawing on the 1998 National Congregations Study--the first systematic study of its kind--as well as a broad range of quantitative, qualitative, and historical evidence, this book provides a comprehensive overview of the most significant form of collective religious expression in American society: local congregations. Among its more surprising findings, Congregations in America reveals that, despite the media focus on the political and social activities of religious groups, the arts are actually far more central to the workings of congregations. Here we see how, far from emphasizing the pursuit of charity or justice through social services or politics, congregations mainly traffic in ritual, knowledge, and beauty through the cultural activities of worship, religious education, and the arts. Along with clarifying--and debunking--arguments on both sides of the debate over faith-based initiatives, the information presented here comprises a unique and invaluable resource, answering previously unanswerable questions about the size, nature, make-up, finances, activities, and proclivities of these organizations at the very center of American life. Table of Contents: Acknowledgments 1. What Do Congregations Do? 2. Members, Money, and Leaders 3. Social Services 4. Civic Engagement and Politics 5. Worship 6. The Arts 7. Culture in Congregations, Congregations in Culture 8. Beyond Congregations Appendix A: National Congregations Study Methodology Appendix B: Selected Summary Statistics from the National Congregations Study Notes References Index Reviews of this book: An unchurched observer might conclude that American congregational life centers on political or social service activities...[But] using his pioneering 1998 National Congregations Survey, the first study to delve into the specific activities of a truly representative sampling of the nation's religious congregations, [Chaves] finds that politics and service programs are not the main draws. Indeed, most congregations put little effort into community work...What congregations are most engaged in, Chaves reveals, are cultural activities. That includes education and the many components of worship, of course, but also the generally less-remarked-upon activities of producing and consuming art and culture, particularly musical and theatrical performances, outside of worship. --Jay Tolson, U.S. News and World Report
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Also CSST Working Paper #29. http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/51160/1/392.pdf
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Objective. Although an expanding literature on "stratification beliefs" has developed over the past three decades, research has neglected relationships between religion and beliefs about poverty and other inequalities. This study examines the relation- ship between religious affiliation and "individualistic," "structuralist," and "fatalis- tic" beliefs about the causes of poverty, and compares the beliefs of African Americans, Latinos, and whites. Methods. Survey data collected in 1993 from a sample of southern Californians are used to test whether several religious affiliations (Protestant, Catholic, Jew, "other religion," and nonaffiliation) shape beliefs about poverty after controlling for race/ethnicity, SES, gender, and age. In addition, the question of whether African Americans, Latinos, and whites differ in the effects of key religious affiliations is examined. Results. Significant religious affiliation effects are found, net of sociodemographic controls. Protestants and Catholics are strongest on individualistic beliefs; Jews and followers of "other" religions are strongest on structuralist beliefs; Catholics and Jews are strongest on fatalistic beliefs. Finally, race/ethnic differences are found for the effects of key religious affiliations. Conclu- sion. The analyses demonstrate "religious factors" shaping beliefs about poverty, and reinforce the growing body of evidence that affiliations such as Protestant and Catholic have distinctive meanings and effects along race/ethnic lines in the United States.