“Negro Ministers and the Color Line in American Protestantism”
Atwood, Jesse Howell. “Negro Ministers and the Color Line in American Protestantism.” Religious Education 27, no. 9 (1932): 823–29.
Atwood researched, wrote, and taught about race relations during his tenure as Professor of Sociology at Knox College from 1930 to 1962. This 1932 article shares the interview results with 61 African American ministers about their attitude toward racial divisions within Christian congregations and denominations. According to a sample of these ministers, Christian Science and Roman Catholicism were more friendly to people of color than mainstream Protestants. That prompted the question: To what extent is the interest of African Americans in Roman Catholicism and Christian Science based on these churches’ racial liberality (as opposed to other factors)? Only a fifth of the interviewees interested in Roman Catholicism and Christian Science identified their interest as based on the friendly attitude in racial matters. (The implication is that other factors were more important—such as the meaning of the religion itself.) As further evidence that racial prejudice is not always a strong factor in choosing religious affiliation, the majority of ministers preferred the idea of a natural development of mixed membership. This indicates little prejudice among African American ministers toward whites; and even of those who were not in favor of the natural development of mixing, simply held a ‘realistic view’ of the color prejudice they feel in white churches.
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