Survey: White Christians Don’t Believe Black Experiences with Police Violence
Could you imagine a society where the police brutality cases were simply isolated incidents? What would the world look like if we could individually look at the act of police killing Black Americans as mistakes separate from one another?
Those questions arise as a new Public Religion Research Institute survey has found that white Christians are less likely than other groups to believe that the experiences that black Americans face.
Even though 80% of black Christians think that police killings are part of a larger pattern, 70% of white Christians do not. Within the white Christian category, the survey included 72% white evangelical Protestants, 71% of white Catholics, and 73% of white mainline Protestants.
Surprisingly, non-Christian whites are more likely to believe that the experiences of black Americans are factual over Christian whites.
That news come as a surprise, as the 2014 General Social Survey was covered by The Grio last year, which measures the trends of American opinion. In the survey, 70% of the Whites polled said that they could envision a situation where they would approve of a police officer hitting an adult male citizen, while 42% of blacks stated that and 38% of Hispanics said they could.
Charles R. Epp, who teaches at University of Kansas and wrote a book about race and police behavior, opened up a discussion about treatment and the survey results.
“My strong sense is that African Americans and Hispanics have too often experienced or have heard of experiences of police officers acting unfairly, so they’re less willing to support the use of force by police officers,” Epp said. “They’re not sure it will be used fairly.”
It is hard to believe that there are people who do not believe the experience of African-Americans when there is empirical data to tell the story.
In 2015, the Black Youth Project released a report that represented the differences in attitudes when approaching the legal system, policing, and guns. According to the 2009 Mobilization and Change Survey, 54.4 percent of black millennials said that they were or knew someone who had “experienced harassment of violence at the hands of the police.” To offset this data, about one-third of the Whites surveyed, one-fourth of the Latinos, and 28 percent of Asian Americans said yes to the same question.
So, now, I ask to the Christian whites, how can you ignore a part of society, an instrumental part of the way that African-Americans live in today’s world? Blacks are gliding through society being shaken and frisked down, and it seems unbelievable to some.
(Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)