Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Black churches create hostility toward whites, or merely cater to it?

++Addition++OneSTDV asks:
To consider my specific argument, wouldn't you have to look at those that actually attend BLACK churches?
From Pew's religious landscape survey, a breakdown of blacks by religious affiliation in the US:

Black churcher52.6
Protestant (Evangelical)16.2
Protestant (Mainline)4.2
Jehovah's Witness1.3
Other (Christian)0.4
Other (non-Christian)0.3

The majority of American blacks belong to black churches, but it isn't overwhelmingly so. Among Christians (including Witnesses), two-thirds are members of black churches.

It is conceivable that active black churchers are more racialist than blacks in aggregate are. The corrolary to this, though, is that other active churchgoers are far less racialist than their black churcher counterparts are, to an extent that they move the religiously active average further toward the non-racialist side than black churchers (and presumably black Muslims) move it toward the racialist side, despite being outnumbered by black churchers. Or, as OneSTDV also suggests, there could be an issue with representativeness among GSS samples.

I'm not aware of data that would offer a conclusive answer one way or the other.


In a post on the practical benefit of piety among the less endowed, OneSTDV concludes that the primary consequence of the black church experience tends to be an accentuation of black animosity toward whites:

The black church creates a racially charged cohort eagerly blaming failure on
white racism and lacking any impulse control in what they perceive to be an
unfair society.
I know a lot of underclass blacks, and I've found those who go to church tend to be a cut above the rest as far as middle class values are concerned (expressing moral outrage rather than personal vindictiveness when insulted, preferring hip hop artists whose fortes are love (Outkast, Mario) over those whose trade is the glorification of violence (50 Cent, Young Jeezy), inquiring about how things have been going in my life--my interactions are limited in scope, but I think the patterns I recognize have more than just a subjective basis).

I've speculated in the past that the South's religiosity might be especially beneficial for blacks. The data underlying that line of thinking--that the white-to-black imprisonment ratio is higher there than in the rest of the country--are vaguely suggestive at best, and could well be the consequence of the ethnic composition of southern whites more than anything else.

Whatever the case, is there evidence that religiously active blacks are more racialist than are non-religious blacks? The following table compares the attitudes and perceptions of religiously active (defined as attending at least nearly every week) and religiously inactive blacks (attending less than once a month to never at all). The side with the higher value is relatively less racialist than the other. The variables are more fully defined in the endnote*:

AA hurts whites44.7%48.3%
Blacks should not push38.6%32.8%
People rewarded for intelligence, skills65.9%57.5%
Feelings towards whites6.906.48
Feelings towards blacks8.117.48
Feel high level of personal freedom in US63.8%54.6%
Americans freer today than in the past63.6%55.3%
Discrimination doesn't explain differences35.2%34.7%

The first thing that jumps out is the lack of much difference between blacks who attend church and those who do not, other than on the issue of feelings towards others. Like blacks who don't go to church, churchgoers feel considerably warmer toward their fellow blacks than they do toward whites. Churchgoers, however, feel considerably warmer about both blacks and whites than non-churchgoing blacks do. The command to love your neighbor gets more play in the pews than it does on the street.

The question concerning whether or not affirmative action hurts whites is the only one in which non-attenders hold a less racialist view than attenders do. What to take from this response isn't clear, though. It could be that benefitting blacks at the expense of whites is viewed as affirmative action functioning optimally. Thus, the question might be a measure of wishful thinking--the number of blacks who approve of whites being hurt by affirmative action--more than regret that whites suffer through positive discrimination. Another question queries respondents on whether or not they support programs giving special preferences to blacks in hiring and promotional considerations. Among attenders, 40.5% support such programs. Among non-attenders, it's a majority at 52.3%.

That non-attenders are even a bit more racially aggrieved than are attenders does not invalidate the assertion that black churches are racially-charged perpetuators of a narrative that sees blacks as forever victims of an oppressive white society. But black churches do not create this perception--they cater to what already exists. Black culture actively works to separate itself from mainstream American culture to the extent that sports (football, really, as the NBA is no longer front-and-center in the world of the white man's sports, and blacks continue to turn away from baseball) are too often the only shared experience white guys and black guys find easy to talk about. The perception is as prevalent on the FM hip hop station, at the local council meeting, or on the front porch as it is in the sanctuary.


* AA hurts whites: "What do you think the chances are these days that a white person won't get a job or promotion while an equally or less qualified black person gets one instead?" The table includes those who responded with "very likely" or "somewhat likely".

Blacks should not push: "Negroes/blacks/African-Americans shouldn't push themselves
where they're not wanted." The table includes those who responded with "agree strongly" or "agree slightly".

People rewarded for intelligence and skills: "In America people get rewarded for their intelligence and skills." The table includes those who responded with "strongly agree" or "agree".
Feelings towards whites (blacks): "In general, how warm or cool do you feel towards white (black) or Caucasian (African) Americans?" On an inverted scale of 1-9, higher values indicate warmer feelings. One standard deviation for the question regarding whites is 1.90. For blacks, it is 2.05.

Feel high level of personal freedom in US: "Would you say right now that you have complete freedom, a great deal of freedom, a moderate degree of freedom, not much freedom, or no freedom at all?" The table includes those who responded with "complete freedom" or "a great deal of freedom". This question does not concern the issue of free will vs. predestination--it is part of a module on personal rights and liberties in contemporary American society.

Americans freer today than in the past: "Do you think Americans today have more freedom, less freedom, or about the same amount of freedom as in the past?" The table includes those who responded with "more freedom".

Discrimination doesn't explain differences: "On the average negroes/blacks/African-Americans have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are mainly due to discrimination?" The table includes those who responded with "no".


OneSTDV said...

Thanks for the link.

But to consider my specific argument, wouldn't you have to look at those that actually attend BLACK churches?

Perhaps, the GSS found a bunch of blacks who attend white or mixed churches.

Anonymous said...


silly girl said...

OneSTDV makes a good point. Consider Voddie Baucham. I looked him up. He is conservative, anti-AA, and is something like a co-pastor with a white guy at a Baptist church. He is a fundie not a liberal. Contrast him Obama's preacher Rev. Wright who is way left anti-white grievance preacher in a liberal denomination.

If we assume that church goers are just followers and will follow whatever, then what is being preached matters. However if church goers attend churches that tell them what they want to hear, then it matters less because paying customers can always find someone to tell them what they want to hear.

It would make interesting trend watching to see whether there is a difference in attitude on issues and in fertility between liberal and fundie black church goers like there is among whites. As society gets more polarized, these trends may emerge and may not yet be evident in currently available data.

Bottom line, do more conservative blacks outbreed and out indoctrinate more liberal blacks?

Anonymous said...

This blog is racist and stupid.

Audacious Epigone said...


Yes, this is suggestive at best. I tried to address your questions in an update to the post.

Silly Girl,

Good question worth taking a look at.

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