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Survey: Opposing racism is key element in Black religious identity

By Don Jacobson
Survey: Opposing racism is key element in Black religious identity
Then-Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker delivers an address on race in America at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on August 7, 2019. File Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Opposing racism is an important part of religious identity for a large majority Black adults in the United States, according to a survey released Tuesday.

Around 75% of Black Americans across a broad spectrum of religious beliefs said fighting racism "is essential to what being a faithful or moral person means," according to a Pew Research Center survey.

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Religious opposition to racism is strongest among those who also say that being Black is a very important part of their personal identity (78%), the survey found -- the figure drops to 70% of those for whom being Black is less important.

The majorities linking anti-racism to religion were spread across all groups, from Black Protestants -- regardless of the race of their congregations -- to Black Catholics and other Christians, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Orthodox Christians and other groups, the researchers said.

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Black non-Christians, such as Muslims and followers of traditional African or Afro-Caribbean religions, likewise overwhelmingly responded (82%) that opposing racism is essential to their religious values and sense of morality.

Meanwhile, in a related question about race, two-thirds of Black adults said being Black is a very important part of how they think about themselves, led by Black Protestants (70%), Catholics (60%) and the religiously unaffiliated (62%), according to the poll.

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But despite the importance placed on racial identity, a third question found that solid majorities of Black respondents believe it's important for their religious congregations to become more diverse.

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About 60% of Black Americans say that historically Black congregations should try to "become more racially and ethnically diverse," compared to just one-third who say historically Black congregations should try to "preserve their traditional racial character."

The Pew researchers surveyed a total 8,660 Black adults between Nov. 19, 2019, and June 3, 2020, using a combination of four high-quality, probability-based samples.

After accounting for the reduction in precision from weighting, the margin of sampling error was 1.5 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

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