CHRISTIANITY DAILY

Most Evangelicals Believe Church Plays Major Role in Racial Reconciliation, According to Barna Study

A recent study found that 94 percent of evangelical Christians said they believe the church plays a significant role in racial reconciliation.

73 percent of all adults agreed with the same notion, according to the Barna Group study released on May 5.

"This is extraordinarily hopeful news for the Christian church at-large," the Barna Group stated.

66 percent of Millennials, 69 percent of Gen-Xers, 79 percent of Boomers, and 84 percent of Elders are anticipating that the Christian church would set an example by being more active in bringing racial harmony. 53 percent of non-believers disagree, but the remaining 43 percent believe the church plays an important role in racial reconciliation.

The study asked Americans on their opinion regarding various racial issues by asking questions such as, 'Is there anger and resentment between diverse ethnic and racial groups?' 'Is racism a former or current problem?' 'Is race or ethnicity a major factor as to why people feel underprivileged?' and, 'Is the church playing a role in the issue or can the church help in bringing racial harmony?'

Regardless of age, sex, social status, or faith, 84 percent of Americans said they believe racial tension endures. Furthermore, they affirm that there is a great deal of temper and animosity between ethnic and racial groups in America.

Evangelicals were more likely to say that “racism is mostly a problem of the past, not the present," as 13 percent of evangelical respondents agreed with that statement, while 7 percent of all adults and 3 percent of those who did not identify with any faith agreed.

On the other hand, 12 percent of conservatives and 4 percent of liberals agreed that racism is more of an issue of the past.

Seven in ten Americans believe that minorities “are often put at a social disadvantage because of their race.” Evangelicals are also less inclined than the overall population to agree with that statement, as 28 percent of evangelicals "strongly disagreed," as opposed to 12 percent of all adults who did.

Meanwhile, 71 percent of Whites were more likely to believe that "reverse racism, or a prejudicial treatment of white people, is a problem in our society today," while 46 percent of Blacks and 65 percent of all adults agreed with that statement.

According to Brooke Hemphell, vice president of research at Barna Group, “[This] research confirms the fear that the church [members] may be part of the problem in the hard work of racial reconciliation.”

“If you’re a white, evangelical, Republican, you are less likely to think race is a problem, but more likely to think you are a victim of reverse racism," Hemphell continued. "You are also less convinced that people of color are socially disadvantaged. Yet these same groups believe the church plays an important role in reconciliation. This dilemma demonstrates that those supposedly most equipped for reconciliation do not see the need for it."

She said this kind of attitude “is a dangerous reality for the modern church.” She pointed to Jesus as the perfect example whom sought to mend and integrate people of colors, but today’s ministry fails to desegregate the groups of people attending church.

Furthermore, “research has shown that being cognizant of our biases leads to change in biased behavior.” The first step is to acknowledge the problem and to seek reconciliation, Hemphell said.

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