Once again, Whites represent everybody while Black folks are just background noise.
What I mean is that within this new Pew Study on the downfall of Christianity in American society, which every mainstream publication is talking about, our opinions get overlooked.
According to the study, entitled “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” about a quarter of the 85 percent of American adults who were raised Christian no longer identify with Christianity. Most of the mainstream media outlets suggest that this drop has is felt across all racial and ethnic groups. However, when you look closely at the numbers, this decrease in Blacks who identify as Christians is relatively small.
In fact, as the survey notes, in spite of a decline in Catholic and mainstream Protestant membership for Whites, “the size of the historically Black Protestant tradition – which includes the National Baptist Convention, the Church of God in Christ, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Progressive Baptist Convention and others – has remained relatively stable in recent years, at nearly 16 million adults.”
The Pew study was conducted using a sample of 35,071 adults interviewed by telephone from June 4 to September 30, 2014. While the racial breakdown of those interviewed is not known, the findings have a margin of error of plus or minus 0.6 percent. This is important to note considering that 79 percent of those surveyed still identify as Christian, with 6/10 of those Black people in the historically Black Baptist denomination. And the change between those who grew up and have since left historically Black Christian denominations is only 0.8 percent.
What’s also interesting to note about this study is that 41 percent of the 31.7 percent of all Americans who were raised Catholic no longer identify with that church anymore. This disassociation is happening even as the Pope has ramped up efforts to make the church seem more progressive and “with it” than ever before. Still, while many “Americans” are leaving the church, minorities now make up 41 percent of Catholics (up from 35 percent in 2007), and that includes 39 percent of Americans who were born outside of the U.S.
What this suggests is that there is sort of a White flight happening within the church, and you know what happens when White people leave the ‘hood? Basically, they take their money and resources with them. And this may explain why the Vatican is trying its damndest to attract new membership.
Although the numbers of those belonging to Historically Black Christian denominations remain the same, the survey does say that being religiously unaffiliated is increasing among both Blacks and Hispanics; 18 percent and 20 percent respectively. Still, the study does not specify what the percentage was for individuals (from either ethnic group) who identified as unaffiliated before the survey was conducted. Also interesting, the number of Americans who identify with non-Christian faith has increased, in particular, Islam and Hinduism. Blacks who were included in this study represent 2 percent and 1 percent of those religions respectively.
So does this mean that White people are identifying less with Christianity, and Black people continue to hold the line for Jesus? I have no idea. However, if you have some theories, leave them in the comment section below. On a side note, I do hope that one day Pew does a more in-depth study on the religious practices of racial and ethnic minorities. That would include finding out the reasons why more Blacks identify as unaffiliated and the impact that the rise of Islam and Hinduism is having on our changing religious identity.