By Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder PRRI
Over the last several weeks, the United States has engaged in a long-overdue reckoning with the racist symbols of the past, tearing down monuments to figures complicit in slavery and removing Confederate flags from public displays. But little scrutiny has been given to the cultural institutions that legitimized the worldview behind these symbols: white Christian churches.
A close read of history reveals that we white Christians have not just been complacent or complicit; rather, as the nation’s dominant cultural power, we have constructed and sustained a project of perpetuating white supremacy that has framed the entire American story. The legacy of this unholy union still lives in the DNA of white Christianity today — and not just among white evangelical Protestants in the South, but also among white mainline Protestants in the Midwest and white Catholics in the Northeast.
For more than two decades, I’ve studied the attitudes of religiously affiliated Americans across the country. And year over year, in question after question in public opinion polls, a clear pattern has emerged: White Christians are consistently more likely than whites who are religiously unaffiliated to deny the existence of structural racism.
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