The Effects of Religious Messages on Racial Identity and System Blame among African Americans

Abstract

This research examines the relationships between racial consciousness or identity, system blame, and religiosity for African Americans, with a particular focus on the effects of church-based education and activism on racial-group consciousness. This is achieved by clarifying religiosity to include both the civic message communicated and the political activism promoted by religious organizations. Data from the 1984 National Black Election Study are used to examine the connections between various demographic factors, religiosity, religious messages, and several measures of racial identity. Findings indicate that two different messages are presented at places of worship: one communicating civic awareness and the other promoting political activity. Greater exposure to the former tends to produce higher levels of racial identity, while exposure to the latter leads to greater perceptions of power imbalance among groups. Such feelings of racial and power imbalance lead to a greater tendency to blame the governmental system for outcome inequities. Finally, these factors seem to operate slightly differently for men and women.

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