Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Religious Studies

Major Professor

Michael DeJonge, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Cavendish, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tori Lockler, Ph.D.


American Christianity, Racism, White Christian Nationalism, White Supremacy


Tension, racism, and violence being enacted in the name of Christianity have brought new attention to the work of many scholars of religion who have documented and analyzed the relationship between white Christianity and racism in the U.S. In his 2020 book White Too Long, Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) director and religious studies scholar Robert P. Jones states unequivocally that “[i]n survey after survey, white Christians stand out in their negative attitudes about racial, ethnic, and religious minorities (especially Muslims), the unequal treatment of African Americans by police and the criminal justice system, their anxieties about the changing face of the country, and their longing for a past when white Protestantism was the undisputed cultural power” (Jones 2020, 10). In addition to providing historical and first-hand accounts, Jones makes two major claims: first, that there is a strong correlation between white Christianity and anti-Black attitudes, and secondly, that white Christian churches in the U.S. have actively provided institutional spaces for transmitting and preserving racist ideology. Jones’ most pointed – and perhaps controversial – statement is that white Christians are more likely to be racist than other ethnic or religious groups, and that it is “deeply integrated into the DNA” of white Christianity in the U.S. (Jones 2020, 187). In this paper, I will examine Jones’ assertion and the data he uses to determine whether it is white Christian affiliation and identification itself that causes a higher likelihood of racist attitudes or if there are other, unaddressed factors missing from Jones’ analysis that problematize his conclusion that “[a]n increase in racist attitudes independently predicts an increase in the likelihood of identifying as a white Christian, and identifying as a white Christian is independently associated with an increased probability of holding racist attitudes” (Jones 2020, 183). Specifically, I will be questioning whether Jones’ conclusion is lacking a consideration of white Christian nationalism as a driving factor of racist attitudes in the white Christian church, using data from various sources and comparing Jones’ findings to that of sociologists Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry in their 2020 book Taking America Back for God. I will also be looking at how survey creation and classifications potentially obfuscate the reality of non-white Christian groups holding racist beliefs as well.

Included in

Religion Commons