A year after the events of Ferguson, Mo., the public is still grappling with questions about race, inequality and use of excessive force by the police. Religious groups differ in how they view the use of force by police, with the most supportive being mainline Protestants and Jews. Catholics and those in historically black churches are the least supportive.
Tobin Grant writes at RNS:
But these percentages don’t show the true effect of religion on attitudes toward the police. The high support among Jews shows the impact of the main drivers for support for the police: status, education and race. Whites with higher education, regardless of religion, are the most supportive of police use of force.
We can control for these differences through statistical models that allow us to estimate support for the use of force while adjusting for differences in education and other factors among the different faiths.
The adjusted percentages show the real effect of religion. Support for the police is highest among those who attend historically white Protestant churches. Controlling for education differences, evangelicals aren’t any different than their mainline Protestant cousins.
Catholics, black Protestants and those of minority religions are the least supportive of the police’s use of force. This may be due to differences in belief, but it may also be because these groups are historically the “out groups” in American society.