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Race, Religion, and Anti‐Poverty Policy Attitudes

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Using the 2008 National Politics Study, the present study indicates that while African Americans are more likely than whites to hear sermons about poverty and other political issues, hearing such sermons more consistently associates with support for anti‐poverty government programs among non‐Hispanic whites than among both African Americans and Hispanics. The racially/ethnically marginalized status of blacks and Hispanics may contribute to these groups being more receptive than whites to religious messages emphasizing social inequality. The contrasting racial experiences of dominance and marginalization may also help explain why hearing politicized sermons is more meaningful to the progressive social welfare attitudes of whites than to African Americans and Hispanics. This expectation is rooted in the heightened variability of perspectives among whites and their religious organizations regarding the government's role in aiding the economically disadvantaged. Conversely, the vast majority of blacks and Hispanics support the government helping individuals who fallen upon hard times. The greater variability in opinion among whites may also allow for greater differences in opinion to emerge between whites who attend relative to those outside of religious congregations led by clergy emphasizing spiritual and political solidarity with the poor than is the case for African Americans and Hispanics.
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Keywords: public opinion; race/ethnicity; sermons; social welfare

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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