American Churches Remain Segregated and Many Members Are Fine With It, Study Shows

a-diverse-CHURCH

Sunday morning remains one of the most segregated hours in American life, with more than 8 in 10 congregations made up of one predominant racial group, a LifeWay Research study shows.

And most worshipers, according to the study, seem to like it that way. Two-thirds of American churchgoers (67 percent) say their church has done enough to become racially diverse.

And less than half think their church should become more diverse.

Those are among the findings of a study of church segregation by Nashville-based LifeWay Research. Researchers surveyed 994 churchgoers –who attend worship at least at holidays or more often — about race and the church. They also surveyed 1,000 Americans as well as 1,000 Protestant senior pastors.

Churchgoers, researchers found, are lukewarm about diversity. More than half (53 percent) disagree with the statement, “My church needs to become more ethnically diverse.” Four in 10 agree.

A third (33 percent) strongly disagree that their church needs to be more diverse. More than 4 in 10 (42 percent) felt strongly their church was doing enough.

Evangelicals (71 percent) are most likely to say their church is diverse enough, while Whites (37 percent) are least likely to say their church should become more diverse.

African Americans (51 percent) and Hispanic Americans (47 percent) were more likely to say their church needs to be more diverse.

“Surprisingly, most churchgoers are content with the ethnic status quo in their churches,” Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, said. “In a world where our culture is increasingly diverse, and many pastors are talking about diversity, it appears most people are happy where they are — and with whom they are.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine.

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