White Christians believe many people see racism despite it not being there

Americans remain deeply divided on the racial issue, a new Pew Center survey found, with around half of those polled claiming that the bigger problem is reporting racial matters where they are not obvious.

What is the bigger problem?

The Pew Center’s research was made ahead of the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. The center asked US adults “what they think is the bigger problem when it comes to racial discrimination in the country today.” Out of those polled, 53% said those who do not see racial discrimination represented a more significant issue. 45% said that the biggest problem is seeing racial discrimination where it doesn’t exist.

Religious groups and the issue of race

Religion News Service from Pew Research gathered data that says white Christians are most likely to say claims about non-existent racial discrimination is the most significant problem. Among them are white Evangelicals (72%), white Catholics (60%), and white Mainline Protestants (54%). Black Protestants (10%), unaffiliated Americans (35%), and non-Christian religious Americans (31%) agreed.

Black and Latin people disagree

Black Protestants (88%), non-Christian religious Americans (69%), unaffiliated Americans (64%), and Hispanic Catholics (60%) claimed the opposite, saying that not seeing racial issues is the biggest problem. Only 27% of white Evangelicals and 39% of white Catholics agreed.

Political affiliations play a significant role

Pew also reported that “80% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents claim “people not seeing racial discrimination where it does exist is the larger issue.” On the other hand, 74% of Republicans and Republican leaners believed that things were the opposite. Among Republicans, older ones dominated this opposing view, while with Democrats, the issue was less related to age.

Churches and political parties

George Yancey, a professor of sociology at Baylor University, stated, “We have taken our overall polarization, and we place it into the racial debate.” He added that politics plays a central role in this polarization, much less than religion. He also claimed, “I don’t think Christians are the source of polarization.” Instead, “We have accepted it and put it into our ministries rather than trying to show concern and care for people who disagree with us.”

Prominent sociologist disagreed

Sociologist Michael O. Emerson, coauthor of “Divided by Faith” and “The Religion of Whiteness,” expressed, “It’s not just a ruse for politics,” he said. “It is theological. It is a transcendent reality.” Derwin Gray, pastor of Transformation Church in North Carolina, is worried about the division and shared, “Race and prejudice are a matter of idolatry in the American church,” adding, “As a pastor, I have to gospel that out of people.”

The pastor’s message

“If we are truly allowing Jesus to shape us, and we’re truly growing in grace, we’re going to desire the best for our brothers and sisters,” said the pastor, and added, “We’re not going to deny the impact of the past. We’re not going to live in the past. We’re going to join hands together to move forward to a better future.” Transformation Church has over 10,000 members, and the multiethnic congregation does not shy away from teaching about US history and how it reflects on the racial division in the country.

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