Your Lying Eyes

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16 May 2009

Are Black Catholics More Conservative?

Alan Keyes's arrest today while protesting Notre Dame's selection of Obama as commencement speaker got me thinking of black Catholics and how the only other who comes to mind is Clarence Thomas. [I just learned the Michael Steele is Catholic, as well - 5/17/09.] Since both these men are quite conservative politically, I quickly surmised that surely black Catholics generally are more conservative. To put a stamp of authority on the supposition, I clicked over to the General Social Survey (GSS) for some pro-forma validation. Damn.

The cumulative GSS surveys from 1972 thru 2008 have 475 catholics among a total 5,672 black respondents in total. Here's the results for whites and blacks by the 3 major religions by how conservative the respondents think they are. The higher the number, the more the respondent self-reported as conservative.

As you can see, blacks generally identify themselves less as conservatives than do whites, but both black and white Catholics rate themselves slightly less conservative than do protestants. (Jews are shown as a control, showing up more liberal than any of the above - the black/Jewish cohort can be ignored obviously with n=10). But surely, then, black catholics will be less favorable towards abortion then blacks at large. Surely, you'd be mistaken:

This is all very confusing. Are black Catholics significantly different from other blacks in other respects? For years of shooling, somewhat, but not dramatically:

So while Keyes and Thomas are among the most conservative public figures around (particularly among black public figures), and while their Catholicism seems to inform their stances, there does not appear to be any connection that can be made generally about this combination of race and religion.

(Notes: GSS variables used - chart 1 - POLVIEWS, RACE(1-2), RELIG(1-3); chart 2 - ABANY, RACE(2); chart 3 - EDUC(1-20), RACE(2))


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the "black churches" that most black Christians attend are sharply different from white congregations. From what I've seen of black services, there's a great deal of uplift and anger but not a whole lot of morality of personal responsibility. White Protestant churches seem to be trending toward feel-good nonjudgmentalism while white Catholic mass is more of the fire-and-brimstone variety.

The impression I get is that Jeremiah Wright is probably the norm, rather than the exception. The allure of victimology is seductive.

June 27, 2009 2:24 AM  
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