Interracial relationships less likely among churchgoers

David Briggs writes at Huffington Post that while believers played a major role in the civil rights movement, "the voluntary segregation still found in houses of worship on Sunday mornings appears to limit the likelihood non-Hispanic white Americans will date, much less marry, a black, Hispanic or Asian partner."

In one national study of dating practices, researchers found those who attended church most often were far less likely to have dated someone from another race.

Churches are still one of the least likely places white, black, Asian and Hispanic Americans will encounter one another.

Pew's 2007 American Religious Landscape Survey found non-Hispanic whites made up more than 9-in-10 members of mainline Protestant churches and more than 8-in-10 members of evangelical Protestant churches, while more than 9-in-10 members of historically black churches were non-Hispanic blacks. Nearly 3-in-10 Catholics were Hispanic, compared with just 3 percent of mainline Protestants.

Research finds that being in a church with few or no members of another race makes a difference in choosing romantic partners.

About half of people who attend church once a year or never said they had dated interracially; just 27 percent of respondents who attend weekly or more reported dating a person of another race, according to a study using data from the 2007 Baylor Religion Survey.

Those who attended multiracial churches, however, were more likely to have dated a person of another race, Perry reported at the recent annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

And in a separate study of more than 12,000 people who were or had been married, only Catholics were significantly more likely than people from other traditions to cross significant racial or ethnic boundaries.

"Segregated churches breed segregated lives," says researcher Samuel Perry of the University of Chicago.

Read full story here.

Comments (3)

Inter-racial same-sex couples are common. So are inter-generational and inter-ethnic cou0les. In fact, when we see an Asian and an Anglo man walking together, or an African-American and Latino, or the (un)like, we think, Team! One might suppose that a chief purpose of homosexuality is to keep the social pot stirred.

Interesting. So only the RC churches are racially diverse? That would explain why they seem to be the only ones still growing. Yes, churches tend to be monochromatic, and people who are religious want people who share their values as partners, ergo, it makes sense that they would look inside their churches.

The Baylor Religion Survey has about 1,648 observations, and about 500 of the respondents said they attended church less than once a year or never. That's not a huge number of people. I'd want to see the standard deviation associated with the estimates in the article.

I bring this up because the article says that about half of that group reported dating interracially, and that proportion seems high. For those on the blog with kids who are dating, do half of their friends date interracially? For those on the blog who are younger, have half of you dated interracially? I am married to someone of a different race, but in my experiences in the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic, nowhere near half of people my age seem to have dated interracially.

It's not just churchgoers, it seems to me that most Americans lead fairly segregated lives. Most churches are racially segregated, and members of multiracial churches are more likely to date interracially - but the thing is that most churches and most other communities are racially segregated. I can tell you that at my workplace in DC, most people are White, and the proportion of racial minorities in my workplace is less than the DC proportion.

This doesn't entirely absolve churches, and I don't mean it to, of course.

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