Youth Attitudes on Race and Religion

“Investigating how the North American church influences young people's attitudes towards race and racial justice. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Henry Zonio Asbury University Contact Me

About this project grant for researchers

Recent racially charged events have prompted questions about the extent to which racist ideas are intrinsically linked to American Christianity. Some argue that white evangelicals uncritically rely on dominant ideologies of race and fail to recognize institutional racism (Emerson & Smith, 2000). Others focus on how white Evangelicals employ racialized strategies to maintain American Evangelicalism as a white institutional space (Bracey & Moore, 2017). However, scant work has addressed the question of how churches construct, reproduce, and normalize white Christian spirituality.

Consequently, much of the scholarship characterizes implicit and explicit racism within American Christianity as an incidental product of dominant racialized ideologies. This approach depreciates the role of the church as a race-making institution and the ways white supremacy and racist ideas have syncretized with Chrisitianity to form a white, Christian imagination. Indeed, studies have overlooked the role of the church as a socializing institution which instills attitudes towards race and racial justice, particularly in the lives of children and youth.

The current project is the quantitative portion of a larger project that will remedy this gap by investigating how the North American church influences young people's attitudes towards race and racial justice.

This grant will underwrite the cost of a large-scale survey collecting first-hand data from a nationally representative sample of young people in the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades from across denominational, theological, and racial distinctions. The survey focuses on the impact of the local church on a young person’s views and attitudes on race and racial justice.

The goal of this project is to translate findings into data-driven resources that will inform and equip local churches, para-church organizations, and denominations to implement strategies that will help young people develop a spirituality rooted in racial justice.