On church attendance and interracial dating
January 29, 2013 1 Comment
Yesterday, I wrote about the ways that the racial segregation of our churches contributes to the political polarization of Christian public discourse. And I’ve written in the past about the need for white Christians to attend non-white churches. Then today I found this over at the Christianity Today blog.
The notion of Sunday mornings being “the most-segregated hour in America” may be longstanding. But recent studies took this idea further and examined how those who attend church most often are least likely to ever have dated or married someone from another race.
Except for one Christian denomination.
In a recent blog post, David Briggs at the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) notes how researchers at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR) found that “being in a church with few or no members of another race makes a difference in choosing romantic partners.”
Using data from the 2007 Baylor Religion Survey, Samuel Perry of the University of Chicago found that about 50 percent of those who attend church only once a year or never said they had dated a person of another race, whereas only 27 percent of those who attend church weekly or more said the same.
“Segregated churches breed segregated lives,” said Perry, according to Briggs. However, he also found that those who pray and read the Bible more often were more likely to date outside of their race. (Perry’s findings will appear in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.)
Meanwhile, another SSSR report from Joshua Tom and Brandon Martinez at Baylor University found that religious affiliation (whether Christian, non-Christian, or religiously unaffiliated) made no statistically significant difference in whether someone was in an interracial marriage—except for Catholics. They were twice as likely to be in such a marriage, especially if they attended services more frequently. The likely reason: the growing Hispanic population.
The racial segregation of our churces affects us in ways big and small all the time. Overcoming this hurdle can go a long way toward overcoming the racism that still permeates so many of our lives.