[320] Xianity & Racism
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[320] Xianity & Racism

Robert P. Jones, in “White Christian America Needs a Moral Awakening” (The Atlantic, July 28, 2020), points to the troubling racial past among white Christian churches, stating that they “have not just been complacent or complicit in failing to address racism; rather as the dominant cultural power in the US they have been responsible for constructing and sustaining a project to protect white supremacy.”

A rather potent charge.  But Jones, raised as a Southern Baptist, goes on to cite some research from his Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).  Here are some of the findings from a survey of more than 2,500 people.

White Christian groups consistently hold views that are at odds with black Protestants, while non-religious whites are more aligned with African-Americans. For example, approximately 75% of white Christian groups saw the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern pride. Only 41% of the unaffiliated and 16% of African-Americans agreed.

Two-thirds of white Christians viewed police killings of blacks as isolated incidents, while only 38% of white unaffiliated and 1% of black Protestants did.

These patterns persisted “in question after question on issues of racial justice,” says Jones. To pull things together, he developed a Racism Index based on 15 questions. Here are the standings: White Evangelicals 78, white Roman Catholics 72, White mainline Protestants 69, religiously unaffiliated 42, black Protestants 24.

Jones’ findings are not to be dismissed.  They arise from careful, unbiased, sociological research.  They are disturbing, but not surprising. The emphasis on individual faith and discipleship, so much a part of orthodox Christianity, can easily blind us to collective evils, especially when those evils are a part of one’s own tradition. Those collective evils, however, socialize (socially shape) generations of individuals to an ongoing blindness. We will look at a few more of Jones’ findings next time. DC


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