Comparing the Community Involvement of Black and White Congregations
Have the extra-religious functions of black congregations become attenuated in recent decades? We have addressed this question here via a comparative analysis of black and white churches with the only extant national probability sample of U.S. congregations. We found that in 1988 black congregations were not more active in secular activities in general, but they were significantly more active in certain kinds of non-religious activity: (a) activity directed at serving disprivileged segments of the immediately surrounding community, and (b) civil rights activity. The observed differences between black and white congregations in these activities were not explained by differences in congregational size, resources, urban/rural setting, or southern/non-southern location. These results support the idea that black congregations continue to perform non-religious functions within their communities, although an intriguing interaction between race and a congregation's founding date points to important variation within black religion.
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