Practicing Christians Are Actually Becoming Less Motivated to Address Racial Justice

As the protests against racial injustice have sprung up across the country and around the world, few issues seem to be closer to the forefront of Americans in 2020. The deaths of Black people like Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor fanned the flames of a movement that had been growing for the last few years and resulted in an unprecedented call for racial justice and equality, with more Americans than ever saying they are motivated to address racial inequality in their communities.

But according to one new study, one group is curiously immune to this sea change: practicing Christians. In fact, a new study from Barna found that among Christians who say they attend church at least once a month and highly prioritize faith in their own life, there is actually less interest in addressing racial justice than there was at this time last year. Quite a bit less.

30 percent of practicing Christians say they are either “unmotivated” or “not at all motivated” to address racial injustice in society. That’s almost twice as much as last year, when 17 percent said they were not motivated. “Christians generally, and practicing Christians in particular, have changed their minds on addressing racial injustice, but if anything, they’re actually moving away from being motivated,” said David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, told Religion News Service.

As you might expect, the numbers look quite a bit different if you’re just talking about Black Christians, 70 percent of whom said they were motivated or very motivated to address racial injustice this year — up from 63 percent last year.

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Overall, the report showed some troubling trends among white Americans in general, and practicing Christians in particular, who seem to be moving the wrong way on racial awareness. In 2019, the survey found that 46 percent of all white Americans and 40 percent of self-identified Christians said the U.S. “definitely” has a race problem. In 2020, just 37 percent of all white adults and 33 percent of self-identified Christians said the same thing.

Meanwhile, 72 percent of Black adults and 75 percent of Black self-identified Christians said the U.S. definitely has a problem with racism in 2019 — numbers that jumped up to 76 percent and 81 percent respectively in 2020. In other words, while Black Christians are becoming more convinced of the problem, white Christians are becoming less convinced.

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