The relation between religion and racism: The role of post critical beliefs

Bart Duriez & Dirk Hutsebaut

The relation between religion and racism has often been studied, but summarizing these studies provides a fragmented picture. Generally, American research concludes there is a positive relation, where¬as research in the Low Countries concludes this relation is negati¬ve. However, the conclusions of the latter research tradition might be premature, because in-accu¬rate religiosity measures were used. The results of this study suggest that both frequency of church attendance and belief salience are no longer significantly related to ra-cism. Four religious attitudes are described, based on individual's inclusion or exclusion of transcendence, and preference for symbolic or literal interpretation. Orthodoxy (literal, transcendent) and External Critique (literal, non-transcendent) were significantly positively related to racism, whereas Rela¬tivism (symbolic, non-transcendent) was significantly negatively related to it. Second Naïveté (symbolic, transcendent) at first sight turned out not to be significantly related to racism. However, a path analysis – in which some important background variables such as age and education were included – suggested the existence of an indirect negative relation. Overall, it looks as if the privatization of religion has reached new heights. Thus nowadays, studies of the relation between religion and racism need to focus on the cognitive (rather than behavioral) aspects of how people deal with the religious realm.

Duriez, B., & Hutsebaut, D. (2000). The relation between religion and racism: The role of post critical beliefs. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 3, 85-102.