One of the most difficult things to describe to the average person about religious classification is Black Protestants.
In 2000, a group of scholars created the RELTRAD classification scheme which divided Protestants up into three categories — evangelical, mainline and Black Protestant. Why are Hispanic and white evangelicals grouped together, but Black Protestants get their own separate category? What about Black evangelicals, Black Pentecostals and Black mainline Protestants?
It’s not an easy question answer, really.
Paul Djupe and I tried to answer that a few years ago in a post at Religion in Public. The answer will not shock GetReligion readers.
In short: politics. But, it’s a bit more than just how they vote on election day. Anyone who has ever worshipped with a predominantly Black congregation knows that it tends to be a bit different than how the United Methodists and lots of other folks do things on a Sunday morning.
I’ve always been fascinated by the role that the church plays in Black culture and was wondering if the rising tide of secularization had been blunted in a bit among African Americans — or if they were seeing the same trend lines as other racial groups.
In 2008, Black Americans were noticeably less likely to report no religious affiliation compared to their White counterparts. About one in five Black Americans were nones in 2008. That’s no different than Hispanics and three points less than White respondents.
But over the last few years, that gap has essentially disappeared. Now, thirty-five percent of Blacks claim no religion on the Cooperative Election Study — an increase of 15 percentage points in 14 years. That’s the same trajectory as Hispanics. Now, there’s no real difference in the disaffiliation rate of Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. (Asians are much higher and I’m going to write about them more in a future post).
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