A new study has unearthed several telling facts about what white evangelical Protestants really think about America’s growing diversity. The findings, published recently by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), suggest many White evangelicals don’t see eye to eye with Protestants of color on issues concerning race, immigration and President Donald Trump’s effect on White supremacists. This racial gap could have lasting repercussions as American evangelicalism becomes more diverse.
PRRI found that unlike members of any other major religious group, most White evangelicals said immigrants represented a threat to America’s customs and values. Fifty-seven percent said that immigrants threatened American society, while 43 percent said immigrants strengthened American society. Protestants of color expressed much greater support for immigrants. About 63 percent of Hispanic Protestants and 67 percent of Black Protestants said that immigrants strengthened American society.
Nikki Toyama-Szeto, executive director of the progressive Christian group Evangelicals for Social Action, told HuffPost she believes the Bible consistently calls Christians to welcome strangers and extend hospitality to foreigners. She suspects some White evangelicals aren’t reaching the same conclusion because they aren’t aware of “how close their own immigration stories are.”
“With the exception of first nations people and enslaved African Americans, everyone else immigrated or sought asylum in this country,” Toyama- Szeto wrote to HuffPost. “[Many White evangelicals] are not aware of the circumstances of Grandpa Joe, and how their family stories might be very similar to the stories that are being played out in the news.
PRRI’s survey was conducted among a random sample of 2,509 adults in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., online and by telephone, between Sept. 17 and Oct. 1.
While statistics about White evangelical Protestants are easy to find, it’s harder to pull out data about evangelicals of color. PRRI and other research groups identify evangelical Christians by asking respondents if they describe themselves as “born-again” or “evangelical Christian.” This question helps researchers separate out white evangelical Protestants as a religious group. ( huffingtonpost.com)