Conventional wisdom holds that Christians, as members of a “universal” religion, believe more or less the same things regarding their faith. According to a new book by Rice sociologist and Kinder Institute for Urban Research Co-director Michael Emerson, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Blacks and Whites in Christian America,” authored by Emerson and Jason Shelton, an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Texas–Arlington, examines the differences between the two races when it comes to their faith through the use of empirical interviews and research.
“We often hear the term ‘the black church,’” Emerson said. “We really wanted to find out, what is the black church? We wanted to know how black Protestants – who comprise 93 percent of black churchgoers – differ from their white counterparts. We wanted to see if there’s anything unique about how they practice their faith.”
Emerson said that while their research, including interviews with numerous black pastors, showed that there are “absolutely no differences” between blacks and whites when it comes to the core beliefs of Protestants (that is, the Apostles’ Creed), it revealed “stunning” differences about how the two groups go about their faith.
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