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The Widening Racial Gap Between Christian Whites and Blacks

There is a growing gap in how black and white Christians view race, according to the Portraits of American Life Study, which surveyed 1300 people in 2006 and 2012.


The chief findings were as follows:

1. More white than black Christians believe that an effective way to improve race relations is to stop talking about it. In 2012, 69% of whites and 34% of blacks agreed with this solution. The percentage for both races increased between 2006 and 2012, but the percentage of whites increased more. Further, the majority of whites said that not talking about race was effective, but only a minority of black Christians thought so.

2. More white than black Christians believe that it is okay for races to be separate but have equal opportunity. The percentage of whites that agreed with this view rose from 20% to 34% between 2006 and 2012. In contrast, the percentage of black Christians that agreed with this statement fell from 19% to 16% during the same time frame.

3. More black Christians than white Christians think about their race daily. Blacks that thought about their race daily rose from 36% in 2006 to 41% in 2012, while the percentage of white Christians that thought about their race during the same time frame only rose from 11% to 13%.

4. More black Christians than white Christians think they have been treated unfairly because of their race. In 2012, the difference was 43% versus 16%, respectively. The percentage of black Christians that thought this way rose 13 percentage points from 2006 and 2012. White Christians increased by 5 percent during the same time period.

What can we infer from these data?

  • There is a widening gap between the way white and black Christians view their race. Black Christians seemed to hold an increasingly negative view of their race with regard to how often they think about being black and how they are unfairly treated. White Christians that thought these ways increased too, but not as much as blacks.
  • Blacks and whites have different ideas to resolve racial issues. Besides the already mentioned disparities between races, there is also a difference in opinion on how much the government should be involved in raising people’s standard of living. Fewer white Christians in 2012 thought the government should do more to increase people’s standard of living than in 2006 (42% to 21%); but the percentage rose for black Christians during the same time frame (68% to 84%).

Jesus modeled acceptance of all races. For example, in John 4, Jesus freely had a conversation with a Samaritan woman, which greatly surprised his disciples. This is the example we should follow in our lives and in our churches. Followers of Jesus can and should lead the way in equal treatment of all people.

What else can you infer from this study?


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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. The perspective is different. If you are white , most likely people arent going to be thinking about how race and race relations affect you.More Blacks probably are looking at some of the social changes and issues that whites are probably not going to deal with.

    September 9, 2014
    • I agree. Although I am white, it makes sense that blacks are reminded that they are black on a constant basis. I would venture to say that most whites don’t really think about what it means to be white very often. As a white Christian, I consciously challenge myself to treat everyone equally, despite differences in race, social status, or gender. Thanks.

      September 9, 2014

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