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Racism In American Religion

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Racism has been present in American religion for a long time. As of 2001, as many as 87% of Christian churches in the United States were completely made up of only white or African-American parishioners. Early Christian slaveholders used the Bible to justify the enslavement of darker-skinned people. Elements of racist ideology have long been present in white Christianity in the United States. Source

“The Doctrine of Discovery,” was foundational to the European colonization of the Americas and their presumptive claims of western expansion (termed “Manifest Destiny”).

While some ask what religion has to do with American racism, attending to its conquest and colonization seriously compels us to ask a different question: Is it even possible to decouple religion from American racism? Source

The relationship between white supremacist ideas and U.S. Christianity is a complex and multifaceted topic. While it is important to acknowledge that not all Christians hold or promote white supremacist beliefs, it is true that throughout history, certain individuals and groups have used Christianity to justify or support racist ideologies, including white supremacy. It is crucial, however, to recognize that this does not represent the beliefs or teachings of Christianity as a whole. Source

During the civil rights era, many people in white mobs were regular churchgoers. Source

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