Religion: Opiate or Inspiration of Civil Rights Militancy Among Negroes?


American Sociological Review, vol. 32, pp. 64-72, 1967. Revision of a paper read at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, August, 1966. This paper may be identified as publication A-72 of the Survey Research Center, University of California, Berkeley. I am grateful to Gertrude J. Selznick and Stephen Steinberg for their work on the early phase of this project, and to the Anti-Defamation League for support.


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Gary T. Marx

University of California, Berkeley


The implications of religion for protest are somewhat contradictory. With their stake in the status quo, established religious institutions have generally fostered conservatism, although as the source of humanistic values they have occasionally inspired movements of protest. For a nationwide sample of Negroes, analysis of the effect of religiosity on protest attitudes indicates that the greater the religious involvement, the less the militancy. However, among the religious, religion does not seem to inhibit, and may even inspire, protest among those with a temporal as distinct from an otherworldly orientation. Still, until such time as religion loosens its hold, or comes to embody more of a temporal orientation, it may be seen as an important factor inhibiting black militancy.


THE relationship between religion and political radicalism is a confusing one. On the one hand, established religious institutions have generally had a stake in the status quo and hence have supported conservatism. Furthermore, with the masses having an otherworldly orientation, religious zeal, particularly as expressed in the more fundamentalist branches of Christianity, has been seen as an alternative to the development of political radicalism. On the other hand, as the source of universal humanistic values and the strength that can come from believing one is carrying out God’s will in political matters, religion has occasionally played a strong positive role in movements for radical social change.


This dual role of religion is clearly indicated in the case of the American Negro and race protest. Slaves are said to have been first brought to this country on the "good ship Jesus Christ.” 1  While there was occasional controversy over the effect that religion had on them it appears that most slaveowners eventually came to view supervised religion as an effective means of social control. Stampp, in commenting on the effect of religion notes:


...through religious instruction the bonds-men learned that slavery had divine sanction,

that insolence was as much an offense against God as against the temporal master. They received the Biblical command that servants should obey their masters, and they heard of the punishments awaiting the disobedient slave in the hereafter. They heard, too, that eternal salvation would be their reward for faithful service... 2


In discussing the period after the Civil War, Myrdal states that “...under the pressure of political reaction, the Negro church in the South came to have much the same role as it did before the Civil War. Negro frustration was sublimated into emotionalism, and Negro hopes were fixed on the after world.” 3  Many other analysts, in considering the consequences of Negro religion from the end of slavery until the early 1950’s reached similar conclusions about the conservatizing effect of religion on race protest. 4


However, the effect of religion on race protest throughout American history has by no means been exclusively in one direction. While many Negroes were no doubt seriously singing about chariots in the sky, Negro preachers such as Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner and the religiously inspired abolitionists were actively fighting slavery in their own way. All Negro churches first came into being as protest organizations and later some served as meeting places where protest strategy was planned, or as stations on the underground railroad. The richness of pro-test symbolism in Negro spirituals and sermons has often been noted. Beyond this symbolic role, as a totally Negro institution, the church brought together in privacy people with a shared problem. It was from the church experience that many leaders were exposed to a broad range of ideas legitimizing protest and obtained the savoir faire, self-confidence, and organizational experience needed to challenge an oppressive system.  A recent commentator states that the slave churches were "the nucleus of the Negro protest” and another that “in religion Negro leaders had begun to find sanction and support for their movements of protest more than 150 years ago.” 5


Differing perceptions of the varied consequences religion may have on protest have continued to the present time. While there has been very little in the way of empirical research on the effect of the Negro church on protest, 6 the literature of race relations is rich with impressionistic statements which generally contradict each other about how the church either encourages and is the source of race protest or inhibits and retards its development. For example, two observers note, “as primitive evangelism gave way to a more sophisticated social consciousness, the church became the spearhead of Negro protest in the deep South,” 7 while another indicates “the Negro church is a sleeping giant. In civil rights participation its feet are hardly wet.” 8 A civil rights activist, himself a clergyman, states: “...the church today is central to the movement... if there had been no Negro church, there would have been no civil rights movement today.” 9 On the other hand, a sociologist, commenting on the more involved higher status ministers, notes: “...middle class Negro clergymen in the cities of the South generally advocated cautious gradualism in race activities until the mid-1950’s when there was an upsurge of protest sentiment among urban Negroes ...but most of them [ministers] did not embrace the more vigorous techniques of protest until other leaders took the initiative and gained widespread support.” 10 Another sociologist states, “Whatever their previous conservative stance has been, the churches have now become ‘spearheads of reform.’” 11 Still another indicates: “...the Negro church is particularly culpable for its general lack of concern for the moral and social problems of the community... it has been accommodating. Fostering indulgence in religious sentimentality, and riveting the attention of the masses on the bounties of a hereafter, the Negro church remains a refuge, and escape from the cruel realities of the here and now.” 12


Thus one faces opposing views, or at best ambiguity, in contemplating the current effect of religion. The opiating consequences of religion are all too well known as is the fact that the segregated church is durable and offers some advantages to clergy and members that might be denied them in a more integrated society. On the other hand, the prominent role of the Negro church in supplying much of the ideology of the movement, many of its foremost leaders, and an institution around which struggle might be organized – particularly in the South – can hardly be denied. It would appear from the bombings of churches and the writings of Martin Luther King and other religiously inspired activists that for many, religion and protest are closely linked.


Part of this dilemma may lie in the distinction between the church as an institution in its totality and particular individual churches within it, and the further distinctions among different types of individual religious concern. This paper is concerned with the latter subject; it is an inquiry into the relationship between religiosity and response to the civil rights struggle. It first considers how religious denomination affects militancy, and then how various measures of religiosity, taken separately and together, are related to civil rights concern. The question is then asked of those classified as “very religious” and “quite religious,” how an “otherworldly orientation” – as opposed to a “temporal" one – affects militancy.


In a nationwide study of Negroes living in metropolitan areas of the United Slates, a number of questions were asked about religious behavior and beliefs as well as about the civil rights struggle.“ 13 Seven of the questions dealing with civil rights protest have been combined into an index of conventional militancy. 14 Built into this index are a number of dimensions of racial protest such as impatience over the speed of integration, opposition to discrimination in public facilities and the sale of property, perception of barriers to Negro advancement, support of civil rights demonstrations, and expressed willingness to take part in a demonstration. Those giving the militant response to five or more of the questions are considered militant, those giving such a response to three or four of the questions, moderate, and fewer than three, conservative.” 15




It has long been known that the more fundamentalist sects such as the Holiness groups and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are relatively uninterested in movements for secular political change.16 Such transvaluational movements with their otherworldly orientation and their promise that the last shall be first in the great beyond, are said to solace the individual for his lowly status in this world and to divert concern away from efforts at collective social change which might be brought about by man. While only a minority of Negroes actually belong to such groups, the proportion is higher than among whites. Negro literature is rich in descriptions of these churches and their position on race protest. 


In Table I it can be seen that those be-longing to sects are the least likely to be militant; they are followed by those in pre-dominantly Negro denominations. Ironically those individuals in largely white denominations (Episcopalian, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, and Roman Catholic) are those most likely to be militant, in spite of the perhaps greater civil rights activism of the Negro denominations. This pattern emerged even when social class was held constant.



TABLE 1: Proportion Militant (%) by Denomination *


% Militant


46 (24)

United Church of Christ

42 (12)


40 (25)


40 (109)


34 (142)


32 (658)

Sects and Cults

20 (106)


*25 respondents are not shown in this table because they did not specify a denomination, or belonged to a non-Christian religious group, or other small Christian group.


In their comments members of the less Conventional religious groups clearly ex pressed the classical attitude of their sects toward participation in the politics of the secular world. For example, an Evangelist in the Midwest said, “I don’t believe in participating in politics. My church don’t vote – they just depends on the plans of God.” And an automobile serviceman in Philadelphia stated, “I, as a Jehovah’s Witness, cannot express things involving the race issue.” A housewife in the Far West ventured, “In my religion we do not approve of anything except living like it says in the Bible; demonstrations mean calling attention to you and it’s sinful.”


The finding that persons who belong to sects are less likely to be militant than the non-sect members is to be expected; clearly this type of religious involvement seems an alternative for most people to the development of radicalism. But what of the religious style of those in the more conventional churches which may put relatively less stress on the afterlife and encourage various forms of secular participation? Are the more religiously inclined within these groups also less likely to be militant?



TABLE 2: Militancy by Subjective Importance Assigned to Religion *


% Militant

Extremely important

29 (668)

Somewhat important

39 (195)

Fairly important

48 (96)

Not too important

56 (18)

Not at all important

62 (13)


*Sects are excluded here and in all subsequent tables.






The present study measured several dimensions of religious involvement. Those interviewed were asked how important religion was to them, several questions about orthodoxy of belief, and how frequently they attended worship service. 17 Even with the sects excluded, irrespective of the dimension of religiosity considered, the greater the religiosity the lower the percentage militant. (See Tables 1, 3 and 4.) For example, militancy increases consistently from a low of only 29 percent among those who said religion was “extremely important” to a high of 62 percent for those who indicated that religion was “not at all important” to them. For those very high in orthodoxy (having no doubt about the existence of God or the devil) 27 percent were militant while for those totally rejecting these ideas 54 percent indicated great concern over civil rights, Militancy also varies inversely with frequency of attendance at worship service. 18



TABLE 3: Militancy by Orthodoxy


% Militant

Very high

27 (414)


34 (333)


39 (144)


47 (68)

Very low

54 (35)



Each of these items was strongly related to every other; when taken together they help us to better characterize religiosity. Accordingly they have been combined into an overall measure of religiosity. Those scored as “very religious” in terms of this index attended church at least once a week, felt that religion was extremely important to them, and had no doubts about the existence of God and the devil. For progressively lower values of the index, frequency of church attendance, the importance of religion, and acceptance of the belief items de-cline consistently until, for those scored “not at all religious,” church is rarely if ever attended, religion is not considered personally important and the belief items are rejected.


Using this measure for non-sect members, civil rights militancy increases from a low of 26 percent for those labeled “very religious” to 30 percent for the “somewhat religious” to 45 percent for those “not very religious” and up to a high of 70 percent for those “not at all religious.” 19 (Table 5.)


Religiosity and militancy are also related to age, sex, education, religious denomination and region of the country, The older, the less ediicated, women, Southerners and those in Negro denominations are more likely to be religious and to have lower percentages scoring as militant, Thus it is possib1e that the relationship observed is simply a consequence of the fact that both religiosity and militancy are related to some third factor. In Table 6 it can be seen, however, that, even when these variables are controlled the relationship is maintained. That is, even among those in the North, the younger, male, more educated and those affiliated with predominantly white denominations, the greater the religiosity the less the militancy.



TABLE 4: Militancy by Frequency of Attendance at Worship Services


% Militant

More than once a week

27 (81)

Once a week

32 (311)

Once a month or more but less than once a week

34 (354)

Less than once a month

38 (240)



TABLE 5: Militancy by Religiosity


Very Religious

Somewhat Religious

Not Very Religious

Not at All Religious

% Militant













TABLE 6: Proportion Militant by Religiosity, for Education, Age, Region,

Sex and Denomination


Very Religious

Somewhat Religious

Not Very Religious

Not at All Religious






Grammar School

17 (108)

22 (201)

3l (42)

50 (2)

High School

34 (96)

32 (270)

45 (119)

58 (19)


38 (26)

48 (61)

59 (34)

87 (15)








33  (30)

37 (526)

44 (62)

62 (13)


30 (53)

34 (180)

48 (83)

74 (19)


25 (71)

27 (131)

45 (33)

50 (2)

60 +

22  (76)

18 (95)

33 (15)

100 (2)








30 (173)

34 (331)

47 (159)

70 (33)


22 (107)

23 (202)

33 (36)

66 (3)








28 (83)

33 (220)

44 (123)

72 (29)


26 (147)

28 (313)

46 (72)

57 (7)







Episcopalian, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ

20 (I5)

27 (26)

33 (15)

60  (5)


13 (15)

39 (56)

36 (25)

77 (13)


46 (24)

22 (83)

50 (32)

100  (2)


25 (172)

29 (354)

45 (117)

53 (15)



The incompatibility between piety and protest shown in these data becomes even more evident when considered in light of comments offered by the respondents.  Many religious people hold beliefs which clearly inhibit race protest. For a few there was the notion that segregation and a lowly status for Negroes was somehow God’s will and not for man to question. Thus a housewife in South Bend, Indiana, in saying that civil rights demonstrations had hurt Negroes, added: “God is the Creator of everything. IVe don’t know why we all dark-skinned. We should try to put forth the effort to do what God wants and not question.” 20


A Negro spiritual contains the lines “I’m gonna wait upon the Lord till my change comes”. For our respondents a more frequently stated belief stressed that God as the absolute controller of the universe would bring about change in his own way and at his own time, rather than expressing segregation as God’s will. In indicating her unwillingness to take part in a civil rights demonstration, a Detroit housewife said, “I don’t go for demonstrations. I believe that God created all men equal and at His appointed time He will give every man his portion, no one can hinder it.” And in response to a question about whether or not the government in Washington was pushing integration too slowly, a retired clerk in Atlanta said: "You can’t hurry God. He has a certain time for this to take place. I don’t know about Washington.”


Others who desired integration more strongly and wanted immediate social change felt that (as Bob Dylan sings) God was on their side. Hence man need do nothing to help bring about change. Thus a worker in Cleveland, who was against having more civil rights demonstrations, said; "With God helping to fight our battle, I believe we can do with fewer demonstrations.” And in response to a question about whether Negroes should spend more time praying and less time demonstrating, an Atlanta clergyman, who said “more time praying," added "praying is demonstrating.” 21


TABLE 7: Religiosity by Civil Rights Militancy





Very religious




Somewhat religious




Not very religious




Not at all religious




















Although the net effect of religion is clearly to inhibit attitudes of protest it is interesting to consider this relationship in the opposite direction, i.e., observe religiosity among those characterized as militant, moderate, and conservative with respect to the civil rights struggle. As civil rights concern increases, religiosity decreases (Table 7). Militants were twice as likely to be scored “not very religious” or “not at all religious” as were conservatives. This table is also of interest because it shows that, even for the militants, a majority were scored either “very religious” or “somewhat religious.” Clearly, for many, a religious orientation and a concern with racial protest are not mutually exclusive.


Given the active involvement of some churches, the singing of protest spirituals, and the ideology of the movement as it relates to Christian principles of love, equality, passive suffering, 22 and the appeal to a higher moral law, it would be surprising if there were only a few religious people among the militants.


A relevant question accordingly is: Among the religious, what are the intervening links which determine whether religion is related to an active concern with racial matters or has an opiating effect? 23 From the comments reported above it seemed that, for some, belief in a highly deterministic God inhibited race protest. Unfortunately the study did not measure beliefs about the role of God as against the role of men in the structuring of human affairs. However, a related variable was measured which would seem to have much relevance – the extent to which these religious people were concerned with the here and now as opposed to the afterlife.


The classical indictment of religion from the Marxist perspective is that by focusing concern on a glorious afterlife the evils of this life are ignored. Of course there are important differences among religious institutions and among individuals with respect to the importance given to other worldly concerns. Christianity, as with most ideologies, contains within it, if not out-and-out contradictory themes, then certainly themes which are likely to be in tension with one another. In this fact, no doubt, lies part of the explanation of religion’s varied consequences for protest. One important strand of Christianity stresses acceptance of one’s lot and glorifies the afterlife; 24 another is more concerned with the realization of Judeo-Christian values in the current life.


King and his followers clearly represent this latter “social gospel” tradition. 25 Those with the type of temporal concern that King represents would be expected to be higher in militancy. A measure of temporal vs. other-worldly concern has been constructed. On the basis of two questions, those interviewed have been classified as having either an other-worldly or a temporal orientation. 26 The evidence is that religiosity and otherworldly concern increase together. For example, almost 100 percent of the “not at all religious” group were considered to have a temporal orientation, but only 42 percent of the “very religious.” (Table 8). Those in predominantly white denominations were more likely to have a temporal orientation than those in all-black denominations.


TABLE 8: Proportion (%) with Temporal (as against Otherworldly) Concern,

by Religiosity


% with Temporal Concern

Very religious

42 (225)

Somewhat religious

61 (531)

Not very religious

82 (193)

Not at all religious

98 (34)



Among the religious groups, if concern with the here and now is a relevant factor in over-coming the opiating effect of religion then it is to be anticipated that those considered to have a temporal religious orientation would be much higher in militancy than those scored as otherworldly. This is in fact the case. Among the otherworldly religious, only 16 percent were militant; this proportion increases to almost 40 percent among those considered “very religious” and “somewhat religious” who have a temporal religious outlook. (Table 9). Thus it would seem that an important factor in determining the effect of religion on protest attitudes is the nature of an individual’s religious commitment. It is quite possible, for those with a temporal religious orientation, that – rather than the effect of religion being somehow neutralized (as in the case of militancy among the “not religious” groups) – their religious concern serves to inspire and sustain race protest. This religious inspiration can, of course, be clearly noted among some active civil rights participants.



TABLE 9: Proportion Militant (%) by Religiosity and Temporal or Otherworldly Concern


Very religious

Somewhat religious


39  (95)

38 (325)


15 (130)

17 (206)





The effect of religiosity on race protest depends on the type of religiosity involved. Past literature is rich in suggestions that the religiosity of the fundamentalist sects is an alternative to the development of political radicalism. This seems true in the case of race protest as well. However, in an overall sense even for those who belong to the more conventional churches, the greater the religious involvement, whether measured in terms of ritual activity, orthodoxy of religious belief, subjective importance of religion, or the three taken together, the lower the degree of militancy.


Among sect members and religious people with an otherworldly orientation, religion and race protest appear to be, if not mutually exclusive, then certainly what one observer has referred to as “mutually corrosive kinds of commitments.” 27 Until such time as religion loosens its hold over these people or comes to embody to a greater extent the belief that man as well as God can bring about secular change, and focuses more on the here and now, religious involvement may be seen as an important factor working against the widespread radicalization of the Negro public.


However, it has also been noted that many militant people are nevertheless religious. When a distinction is made among the religious between the “otherworldly” and the “temporal,” for many of the latter group, religion seems to facilitate or at least not to inhibit protest. For these people religion and race protest may be mutually supportive.


Thirty years ago Donald Young wrote: “One function which a minority religion may serve is that of reconciliation with inferior status and its discriminatory consequences ...on the other hand, religious institutions may also develop in such a way as to be an incitement and support of revolt against inferior status." 28 The current civil rights struggle and the data observed here certainly suggest that this is the case. These contradictory consequences of religion are somewhat reconciled when one distinguishes among different segments of the Negro church and types of religious concern among individuals.




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1.        Louis Lomax, When the Word is Given, New York: New American Library, 1964, p. 34.


2.        Kenneth Stampp, The Peculiar Institution, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956, p. 158.


3.        Gunnar Myrdal et al., An American Dilemma, New York: Harper, 1944, pp. 851-853. About the North he notes that the church remained far more independent “but on the whole even the Northern Negro church has remained a conservative institution with its interests directly upon otherworldly matters and has largely ignored the practical problems of the Negro's fate in this world.”


4.        For example Dollard reports that “religion can be seen as a mechanism for the social control of Negroes" and that planters have always welcomed the building of a Negro church on the plantation but looked with less favor upon the building of a school.  John Dollard, Caste and Class in a Southern Town, Garden City: Doubleday Anchor, 1957,p. 248. A few of the many others reaching similar conclusions are: Benjamin E. Mays and J. W. Nicholson, The Negro’s Church, New York: Institute of Social and Religious Research, 1933; Hortense Powdermaker, After Freedom, New York: Viking Press, 1939, p. 285; Charles Johnson, Growing Up in the Black Belt, Washington, D.C.: American Council of Education, 1941, pp. 135-136; Horace Drake and St. Clair Cayton, Black Metropolis, New York: Harper and Row, 1962, pp.424-429; George Simpson and Milton Yinger, Racial and Cultural Minorities, New York: Harper, rev. ed., 1958, pp. 582-587. In a more general context this social control consequence of religion has of course been noted throughout history from Plato to Montesquieu to Marx to Nietzsche to Freud to contemporary social theorists.


5.        Daniel Thompson, "The Rise of Negro Protest,” Annals of the American Acodemy o/ Political and Social Science, 357 (January, 1965).


6.        The empirical evidence is quite limited. The few studies that have been done have focused on the Negro minister. Thompson notes that in New Orleans Negro ministers constitute the largest segment of the Negro leadership class (a grouping which is not necessarily the same as “protest leaders") but that “The vast majority of ministers are primarily interested in their pastoral role. Their sermons are essentially biblical, dealing only tangentially with social issues.” Daniel Thompson, The Negro Leadership Class, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1963, pp. 34-35. Studies of the Negro ministry in Detroit and Richmond, California also stress that only a small fraction of Negro clergymen show any active concern with the civil rights struggle. R. L. Johnstone, Militant and Conservative Community Leadership Among Negro Clergymen, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1963, and J. Bloom, The Negro Church and the Movement for Equality, M.A. thesis, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Sociology, 1966.


7.        Jane Record and Wilson Record, “Ideological Forces and the Negro Protest,” Annals, op. cit., p. 92.


8.        G. Booker, Black Man's America, Englewood Cliffs, N J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964, p. 111.


9.        Rev. W. T. Walker, as quoted in William Brink and Louis Harris, The Negro Revolution in America, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964, p. 103.


10.     N. Glenn, “Negro Religion in the U.S.” in L. Schneider, Religion, Culture and Society, New York: John Wiley, 1964.


11.     Joseph Fichler, "American Religion and the Negro," Daedolus, Fall 1965, p. 1087.


12.     E. U. Essien-Udom, Black Nationalism, New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1963, p. 358. Many other examples of contradictory statements could be offered, sometimes even in the same volume. For example, Carleton Lee stresses the importance of religion for protest while Bayford Logan sees the Negro pastor as an instrument of the white power structure (in a book published to commemorate 100 years of emancipation). Carleton Lee, "Religious Roots of Negro Protest,” and Rayford Logan, "Educational Changes Affecting American Negroes," both in Arnold Rose, Assuring Freedom to the Free, Detroit: Wayne University Press, 1964.


13.     This survey was carried out in 1964 by the Survey Research Center, University of California, Berkeley. A non-Southern metropolitan area probability sample was drawn as well as special area samples of Negroes living in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and Birmingham. Since the results reported here are essentially the same for each of these areas, they are treated together. More than 90% of the interviews were done with Negro interviewers. Additional methodological details may be found in Gary Marx, Protest and Prejudice: A Study of Belief in the Black Community, New York: Harper & Row, forthcoming.


14.     Attention is directed to conventional militancy rather than to that of the Black Nationalist variety because a very small percentage of the sample offered strong and consistent support for Black Nationalism. As in studying support for the KKK, the Birch Society or the Communist Party, a representative sample of normal size is inadequate.


15.     Each of the items in the index was positively related to every other and the index showed a high degree of internal validity. The index also received external validation from a number of additional questions. For example, the percentage belonging to a civil rights organization went from zero among those lowest in militancy to 38 percent for those who were highest, and the percentage thinking that civil rights demonstrations had helped a great deal increased from 23 percent to 58 percent. Those thinking that the police treated Negroes very well decreased from 35 percent to only 2 percent among those highest in militancy.


16.     Liston Pope, Millhands and Preachers, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1942, p. 137. J. Milton Yinger, Religion, Society, and the Individual, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1957, pp, 170-173


17.     These dimensions and several others are suggested by Charles Y. Clock in “On the Study of Religious Commitment,” Religious Education Research Supplement, 57 (July-August, 1962), pp. 98-100. For another measure of religious involvement, the number of church organizations belonged to, the same inverse relationship was noted.


18.     There is a popular stereotype that Negroes are a "religious people." Social science research has shown that they are "over-churched” relative to whites, i e, the ratio of Negro churches to the size of the Negro population is greater than the same ratio for whites. Using data from a nation-wide survey of whites, by Gertrude Selznick and Stephen Steinberg, some comparison of the religiosity of Negroes and whites was possible. When these various dimensions of religiosity were examined, with the effect of education and region held constant, Negroes appeared as significantly more religious only with respect to the subjective importance assigned to religion. ln the North, whites were more likely to attend church at least once a week than were Negroes; while in the South rates of attendance were the same. About the same percentage of both groups had no doubts about the existence of God. While Negroes were more likely to be sure about the existence of a devil, whites, surprisingly, were more likely to be sure about a life beyond death. Clearly, then, any assertions about the greater religiosity of Negroes relative to whites are unwarranted unless one specifies the dimension of religiosity


19.     When the sects are included in these tables the results are the same. The sects have been excluded because they offer almost no variation to be analyzed with respect to the independent variable. Since virtually all of the sect members scored as either "very religious” or “somewhat religious,” it is hardly possible to measure the effect of their religious involvement on protest attitudes. In addition the import of the relationships shown in these tables is considerably strengthened when it is demonstrated that religious involvement inhibits militancy even when the most religious and least militant group, the sects, are excluded.


20.     Albert Cardinal Meyer notes that the Catholic Bishops of the U.S. said in their statement of 1958: “The heart of the race question is moral and religious." “Interracial Justice and Love," in M. Ahmann, ed., Race Challenge to Religion, Chicago: ll. Regnery, 1963, p. 136. These data, viewed from the perspective of the activist seeking to motivate Negroes on behalf of the civil rights struggle, suggest that this statement has a meaning which Their Excellencies no doubt did not intend.


21.     A study of rninisters in Richmond, California notes that, although almost all questioned were opposed to discrimination, very few had taken concrete action, in part because of their belief that God would take care of them. One minister noted, "I believe that if we all was as pure... as we ought to be, there would be no struggle. God will answer my prayer. If we just stay with God and have faith. When Peter was up, did the people march to free him? No. He prayed, and God did something about it." (Bloom, op, cit., italics added.)


22.     Non-violent resistance as it relates to Christianity’s emphasis on suffering, sacrifice, and privation, is discussed by James W. Vander Zanden, "The Non-Violent Resistance Movement Against Segregation,” American Journal of Sociology, 68 (March, 1963), pp. 544-550.


23.     Of course, a most relevant factor here is the position of the particular church that an individual is involved in. Unfortunately, it was difficult to obtain such information in a nationwide survey.


24.     The Muslims have also made much of this theme within Christianity, and their militancy is certainly tied to a rejection of otherworldly religiosity. The Bible is referred to as a "poison book" and the leader of the Muslims states, "No one after death has ever gone any place but where they were carried. There is no heaven or hell other than on earth for you and me, and Jesus was no exception. His body is still... in Palestine and will remain there.” (As quoted in C. Eric Lincoln, The Black Muslims in America, Boston: Beacon Press, 1961, p. 123).


However, while they reject the otherworldly theme, they nevertheless rely heavily on a deterministic Allah, according to E. U. Essien-Udom, this fact leads to political inactivity. He notes, “The attainment of black power is relegated to the intervention of “Almighty Allah” sometime in the future... Not unlike other religionists, the Muslims too may wait for all eternity for the corning of the Messiah, the predicted apocalypse in 1970 notwithstanding.” E. U. Essien-Udom, Black Nationalism, op, cit., pp. 313-314.


25.     He states: “Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men end is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple  them is a dry-as-dust religion.” He further adds, perhaps in a concession, that “such a religion is the kind the Marxists like to see – an opiate of the people.” Martin Luther King, Stride Toward Freedom, New York: Ballantine Books, 1958, pp. 28-29.


John Lewis, a former SNCC leader and once a Baptist Divinity student, is said to have peered through the bars of a Southern jail and said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth, I came not to send peace, but a sword,” (Matthew 10:34.)


26.     The two items used in this index were: "How sure are you that there is a life beyond death?"; and "Negroes should spend more time praying and less time demonstrating.” The latter item may seem somewhat circular when observed in relation to civil rights concern. However, this is precisely what militancy is all about. Still it would have been better to measure otherworldly vs. temporal concern in a less direct fashion; unfortunately, no other items were available. Because of this the data shown here must be interpreted with caution. However it does seem almost self-evident that civil rights protest that is religiously inspired is related to a temporal religious outlook.


27.     Rodney Stark, 4Class, Radicalism, and Religious Involvement,” American Sociological Review, (October, 1964), p. 703.


28.     Donald Young, American Minority Peoples, New York: Harper, 1937, p. 204.  These data are also consistent with Merton’s statement that it is premature to conclude that "all religion everywhere has only the one consequence of making for mass apathy” and his insistence on recognizing the “multiple consequences" and "net balance of aggregate consequences” of a given institution such as religion. Robert Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure, Glencoe: Free Press, 1957, revised edition, p 44.


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