Yikes, according to a study in Social Psychological and Personality Science:
Participants subliminally primed with Christian words displayed more covert racial prejudice against African-Americans (Study 1) and more general negative affect toward African-Americans (Study 2) than did persons primed with neutral words. The effects of priming on racial prejudice remained even when statistically controlling for pre-existing levels of religiousness and spirituality. Possible mechanisms for the observed effect of Christian religion on racial prejudice are discussed.
Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Does thinking about Christianity make people more racist?
The link only has the abstract, so I’m not sure about the methodology, but that’s a kind of scary result considering all the religious propaganda in the States.
Trevor Blake provided a link to a PDF of the full study, and that sheds some light on the subject. Of particular note is the “Caveats” section (emphasis mine):
It should be noted that, in both experiments, the baseline level of covert racial prejudice was in the neutral range. Furthermore, the magnitude of effects in this study was small. Priming Christian concepts did not cause a large increase in racial prejudice, but it did lead to a small, significant increase. As such, we cannot conclude that priming Christian concepts causes racism per se; our data do not support this conclusion. However, we did find that priming Christian concepts causes a negative shift in existing racial attitudes and that the direction of the shift represents a slight but significant increase in racial prejudice.
The sample sizes of the two studies were quite small. Only 73 in the first experiment and 43 in the second. Participants were mostly white and Christian, but other ethnicities and religions were represented.
The second experiment replicated the results of the first, but further replications by other researchers are needed – preferably with larger sample sizes – before any conclusions can be drawn.
Also, the section “Christian Concepts, Racial Prejudice, and Possible Mediators Between the Two,” which covers the paradoxes of current religious priming research, is worth reading.
December 13, 2010 at 7:34 pm
8 page PDF of the study: tinyurl.com/22uxtgc
December 13, 2010 at 8:54 pm
As a Christian, I am slightly uneasy with the way you are taking this paper. Admittedly, this is the way the study is run, but the articles does admit that there are other factors at work, such as American fundamentalism and the protestant work ethic. I’m sure if they had done something similar with atheists instead of Christians and theists instead of African-Americans then you’d get the exact same results. People do not like people that are different from them, that is all this paper is really saying. I’m not denying that Christianity as a religion has problems, I am all to painfully aware that the religious discourse tends to be about throwing bible verses at homosexuals they way a monkey throws shit and and trying to force that creationist heresy bullshit. That does not necessarily make Christianity in and off itself evil.
Also, the paper was written at a southern Christian university.
December 14, 2010 at 12:57 am
Correlation != causation. This thesis can be demolished in two words:
December 14, 2010 at 2:32 am
When there was African Slavery, the institution was supported by Christianity. When ‘misegnation’ was illegal, it was a practice whose defenders used Christianity to defend. When anti Gay speech, speech suggesting gay people be put to death, when it is defended it is defended not as free speech, but as a freedom of Christian religion.
White Power organizations … have associated themselves with Christianity.
When I was bashed for being Gay, what did my attacker tell me? That he was Christian and that it was his Christian duty to drive my evil faggot self away from his Christian neighborhood.
But of course… correlation doesn’t prove causality, it’s just strong circumstantial evidence of causality.