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African American Forum

Social and Political Views : A Religious Portrait of African-Americans

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Among African-Americans, as with the public generally, views on political ideology and social issues, such as abortion and homosexuality, are linked with both religious affiliation and religious observance (as measured by worship service attendance and importance of religion in one’s life). For instance, black members of evangelical Protestant churches and the more religiously observant express more conservative views than those who are unaffiliated with any particular religion or are less religiously observant. But these religiously based differences tend to be smaller in the African-American community than in the population as a whole. And on some political issues, there are few religious divides to speak of within the black community. Perhaps the most striking of these is partisanship, with the vast majority of African-Americans of all religious backgrounds expressing support for the Democratic Party.


Like the overall population, African-Americans are more likely to describe their political ideology as conservative (32%) or moderate (36%) than as liberal (23%). Members of evangelical churches and the most religiously committed members of all religious groups are most likely to describe themselves as conservative, while those who are unaffiliated and less religiously committed are among the least likely to describe themselves as such. While this is true among both African-Americans and the general population, these differences are much smaller among African-Americans. For example, among African-Americans, members of evangelical churches and those who are most religiously observant are just as likely to describe their ideology as moderate as to say they are conservative; by contrast, among the general population, the same groups are much more likely to say they are conservative than moderate or liberal.


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