Racial unity in America’s pews

Every few months, a new survey offers another snapshot of the state of Christianity in the United States. Taken separately, the surveys invite different conclusions. Yet together, they point to a stirring of spiritual thought – particularly in regard to the role of church in racial reconciliation.

Indeed, even as millions of Americans have stopped going to church over the past 25 years, churches have become more multiracial during the same period. Earnest wrestling to uproot legacies of racial division coincides with a broadly shared hunger among churchgoers for unity and inclusivity. A Lifeway Research poll earlier this year found that large majorities of American Christians, across denominations, want their churches to do more to promote ethnic diversity.

That may reflect the unique capacity of religious institutions to emphasize shared values, notes Daniel Williams, author of a 2021 book on Christianity and politics in America. “Being part of a religious community often forces people to get along with others – including others with different political views,” he wrote in The Atlantic earlier this month.