October 6th, 2010
07:29 AM ET

Why Sunday morning remains America's most segregated hour

“Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of Christian America.”

That declaration, which has been attributed to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., used to startle listeners. Now it’s virtually become a cliché. For years, various academic studies and news articles have reported what many churchgoers already know: most American congregations are segregated.

In the latest issue of the academic journal Sociological Inquiry, two professors dug deeper into why Sundays remain so segregated.

The article, “Race, Diversity, and Membership Duration in Religious Congregations,’ said that nine out of ten congregations in the U.S. are segregated - a single racial groups accounts for more than 80 percent of their membership.

Kevin Dougherty , a sociology professor at Baylor University in Texas, and a co-author of the article, says churches haven't kept pace with other institutions.

Socially, we’ve become much more integrated in schools, the military and businesses. But in the places where we worship, segregation still seems to be the norm.

Attracting members of another race isn’t good enough, Dougherty says. Most congregations that draw racial minorities can’t keep them.

It’s not just an issue of attraction, of getting them into the door, but of retention.  Can we keep them? Our research indicates that we’ve not been able to.

Calling a church segregated may make some people uncomfortable because it implies that its members are racist. But many contemporary churches that are dominated by one racial group weren’t formed by racial animosity, Dougherty says.

Parishioners’ prefer to go to church with people who look like them, Dougherty says.

People choose churches where they feel comfortable. Maybe they get challenges there, but they’re going for the comfort.”

The first Christian church was known for its diversity. Jews, Gentiles, and Greeks mingled alongside women and slaves. Biblical scholars have long maintained that the early church’s diversity was one of the reasons it became so popular. Roman society was characterized by rigid ethnic and class divisions.

That was then, though.

How important is it for the  church to strive for that kind of ethnic diversity today - particularly since it seems many people don’t want it, according to the article?

Can American churches remain separate but equal?

Editor's Note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien looks at how some are fighting debt from the pulpit in "Almighty Debt: A Black in America Special," premiering October 21 at 8 p.m. ET.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Houses of worship • Race

soundoff (374 Responses)
  1. IWFKU

    It's high time we start taxing churches like the businesses they are. They involve themselves in the political process by guiding their flocks through sermon to vote in religious candidates, so why is it that they're not paying their fair share of the tax burden in this country? If they want a seat at the table, they ought to be picking up their share of the check.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:39 am |
    • Ignorant

      You've obviously not been every church in America if you still make this claim...

      October 6, 2010 at 8:41 am |
    • Mary

      You, sir, are hotile to God and have set yourself up to be at war with Him, which is an extremely stupid thing. God is infinite, all knowing, almighty and eternal. You are finite and you only have a few years on this earth at best. If you fight with God, you're going down... literally (i.e., to Hell).

      October 6, 2010 at 9:59 am |
    • Randy

      I don't know what church you've been going to, but my minister goes to great pains before an election to not mention ANY candidate or particular ballot issue, but instead call on the congregation to read their scriptures (suggesting some references) and pray, pray, pray for God's guidance, as they get ready to cast their vote. That's it. The rest is left up the individual– it's between them and God.
      There may be one in a thousand churches where a minister actually gets up there and says 'you're going to hell if you don't vote for Snell.' And the liberal news media seek out those churches like a pack of dogs, sending their cameras in. That's what we then see on the evening news, as if that represents church-dom nationwide. It's ridiculous- that is the rare exception among churches, to do that.
      If you believe that's the norm it's because you don't go to church and don't have a clue.
      What's even WORSE to me is a minister not only welcoming a political candidate on Sunday morning, but inviting them up to the pulpit to say a few words. That is blatant campaigning and those churches should have their non-profit status yanked faster than you can say Obama.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:37 am |
    • opinion

      Yes my church also only preaches issues not candidates. And several other churches I've been to do the same. There are issues that are directly wrong in God's eyes and as Christians it is our duty to stand up for them.

      October 6, 2010 at 11:33 am |
    • geo59

      Hi IWFKU,
      I'm really getting a kick out of reading this thread. I especially like your posts. Thanks for telling it like it really is. Perhaps the part about religious people being mentally retarded was a bit extreme. I'm sure that some of these sleeping sheep have IQ's that are at least somewhat higher than 70, which is the high-end rating for mental retardation. So maybe stupid would have been a better word. Certainly you'd have to be stupid to believe in an imaginary, all-seeing, invisible being. (As I write this I'm looking at one of those "Related Article" links that says: "Cancer patient: I see Jesus in my MRI". Geez. Oops. I guess I'm confused. These Christians say they believe in Jesus and that Jesus was peaceful and non-violent. Yet they read your posts and consistently say you should just die. Jesus must be turning over in his grave. Oh yeah, I forgot, he's not there. Anyway, just wanted to give you a little support. Personally, I don't care about churches being segregated. All sheep have herd mentalities and this is just a fairly obvious example of it. To use one of the less enlightened poster's terms, non-whites (sheep, that is) like to be in the same flock and non-blacks like to be in the same (less musical) flock. It's not easy being non.

      October 6, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  2. james simmons

    I'm white and have attended several black churches. However I found all the dancing,shouting,and music to be something that detracted from why I came to worship. It wasn't wrong ,but so unlike anything I ever experienced that I didn't enjoy the service.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  3. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    As Gomer would say, "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!"

    October 6, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  4. Steve

    Segregation is learned behavior. If it never existed in the first place, we wouldn't be doing it today. My Dad was not officially racist but I did hear him ask once why Africans still lived in mud huts and never evolved to much more then tribal communities. I had to remind him that Egypt is in Africa and look at that once glorious civilization. Some how I managed to rise above all that nonsense talk. Too bad some others can't do the same.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  5. DirtyDog

    Who cares? Why is this something that needs to be rectified? What's next? Are they going to push for ethnic diversity in churches? How about religious diversity? This segregation isn't formal. A black person is free to go to a mostly white church, and vice versa. Let people do what they want. Are they next going to do a study on why people mostly date those of their own race and try to "correct" that too?

    October 6, 2010 at 8:36 am |
    • Dean

      Nowhere does the article state that *anyone* suggested it has to be 'corrected'. Stop imposing your (and Glenn Beck's) fears and paranoia onto others...

      October 6, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  6. Karl Esmark

    So what? Everyone also knows the biggest collection of theives and liars gather under a big dome in Washington, D.C. and call themselves a Congress for part of every year. Behiind? Behind what? Given that integration and diversity have been such great successes (schools. business, families, etc.) maybe following the example of churches, temples, and mosques
    should/will be the FUTURE. How would the average journalist know anything about religion anyway, over 90% have no personal connection to any church or religious community.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:35 am |
  7. Yazen

    See, that's the beauty of Islam. It eradicates racism. The guiding principle is that the only thing that makes one person better than another is his or her taqwa (God-consciousness and piety). That is why you will find all sorts of ethnic backgrounds in the majority of mosques, as well as the biggest and most diverse human gathering in the world every year at Hajj in Mecca. That is how Malcolm X changed his ways after praying in Mecca.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:34 am |
    • Not at all

      Hardly true. There is hardly a choice of where one could go to worship in Islam. Never heard of one temple splitting because people disagreed with certain views of the person in charge. Don't speak on something you don't understand.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:48 am |
    • Dean

      Regarding the previous reply – you should take your own advice. I am not Muslim, but I understand that there are at least several different sects within the religion, some of which have great distaste for others (one of the main points of contention within Iran, and a reason they have trouble forming a diverse government body, I believe).

      October 6, 2010 at 9:53 am |
    • BITTER

      Islam is no less racist than Christianity or Judaism. It's not so much the religions themselves as it is the people who practice them. All this BS talk about loving your fellow man is a crock – people who run organized religions are such hypocrites.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:12 am |
    • Shivya

      Don't even start. I have heard so many stories about how Arabs treat blacks and Asians. Like dirt. yeah, Hajj is a big business revenue for Mecca and nothing more. People are idiots to fall for that and travle thousands of miles.. Sad

      October 6, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  8. aces and eights

    It doesn't matter if they are "serarate, but equal".
    It's no ones business...especially the governments.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:31 am |
    • superbilly

      CNN don't have a lot to do at work this AM beside stand around tha wata fountain, chew gum, or shoot hoops!

      October 6, 2010 at 8:33 am |
    • BITTER

      That is why I don't believe in RELIGION. It was created by MAN, who have used it to segregate and subjugate, be they Christian, Muslim or Jew. Begone with your lame churches and places of worship. True belief in and love OF God shouldn't require a middlman anyways. And I don't want to worship in a church where I am not welcome because of my skin color anyway.

      October 6, 2010 at 9:21 am |
    • Frogist

      @aces and eights: who said anything about the govt?

      October 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  9. Thomas A Martinet

    Religion is sillly to begin with. People really need to get educated! Sports is much more integretated. Let's make sports a religion.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:29 am |
    • No

      Too late. Football has already done almost as much damage to this country as religion. People are too stupid to actually read/watch the news enough to make informed political decisions and not be complete idiots in general, but if you ask them how many touchdown passes Drew Brees has thrown this season they will vomit up every game statistic they can remember. Football has replaced the gladiator games of ancient Rome, and it still keeps everyone just as drunk and distracted as they were over 2000 years ago.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  10. RandyZ

    That's the way people want it. Leave them alone!

    October 6, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  11. Joe

    For those of you who don't know, the entire country is segregated. Take a look at churches, schools, communities, your workplace.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:28 am |
    • damassa

      Our company has a cafeteria with 3 tables. One for the bosses, one for the Whites and one for the others.
      Just the way it is.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  12. Catie

    I think culture is part of this situation. It does not have to be a bad thing to have a church where more blacks attend or a church where more whites attend. As long as there is no hatred behind it, it can just simply be cultural. I am a boring white person who attends a Catholic Mass. My girlfriend is an effervescent black woman who attends a very charismatic Service. That is not to say there are not black members in my church or no white members in her church. We both love the Lord and simply have different needs in Worship.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:24 am |
    • Emwerff

      I feel exactly the same way you do. My grandparents worship in a what I consider catholic church with hyms while I worship in a non-denom church with more popular music...they love their church & I love my church & I love my grandparents & they love me...oh & we are all white. But the same thing goes for other churches. a lot of black people (not all-because some go to my church & some to my grandparents church) worship with more gospel get u & groove music. Perfectly fine if that is what you like..while I do worship with a little more spunk than my grandparents traditional hyms the gospel music of most baptist churches is a little too much for me. Notice none of this has to do with people of my own color as much as it does style of worship. To each his own...believing & following & loving the Lord is the key.

      October 6, 2010 at 9:04 am |
    • opinion

      Totally agree, its all in the worship style. I'm a white Baptist southern female who has a lot of energy and spunk and I feel more spiritual with a lively congregation...so quite often I worship at a black church. I think you should be able to feel the worship music and move around a bit. Not stand there staring at the choir like so many white churches do.

      October 6, 2010 at 9:24 am |
    • CSmith

      My church is mostly white. A few black people, but not many. We're also pretty traditional baptists, though we've loosened up some recently. We went up to NY and sang with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir a few years back. What a blast! We weren't what they were used to and they weren't what we were used to, so I don't think anyone would switch churches, even if we were in the same area, but wow did we have fun together! This is what this is about. Different cultures worship in different ways, which means we aren't really comfortable with the other group 100% of the time, but we work together wonderfully when we get together.

      October 6, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  13. Scott

    My church doesn't have a sign on it that says "non-whites keep out". It's just that in our area, there aren't that many non-white people. Another difference is theology. Some "black" churches preach liberation theology, which many biblical scholars recognize as incompatible with Scripture. This may also contribute to some of the segregation. And some of it may be that people are more comfortable with those who look like them. They need to overcome that, black, white, Hispanic or Asian.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:24 am |
    • DJ in TX

      Scott – your first point is spot on. A lot of people go to church in their own neighborhoods. My church is in an area where there are very few whites. It is mostly black, hispanic and some whites. We don't wear suits (unless you want to), the service is upbeat and somewhat contemporary. There are many, many young people as we have specific service for them away from the adults. We tend to let people who have talents use that same talent in the church. My old church was more traditional and that didn't work for me (yes it was also mostly black). It has nothing to do with being racist. In college I went to a mostly white Church of Christ. I didn't feel uncomfortable, it just didn't work for me (I like music). In the military, the pastor that conducted our service (mostly black protestant service) got deployed. You know what, a white chaplain took over the service and the people gave him just as much support. It is segrated by style mostly.

      In the plane attack in Austin, TX, my church member was the only one killed. But after that, we invited the wife of the attacker to our church as well as her church. We had several joint services. No one was uncomfortable. We had a great time. We also partner with other churches in the city trying to get more people to God. It shoudln't matter where you choose to worship. If you are a christian, you should feel welcome in ANY house of our Lord. Aren't we all brothers and sisters in Christ????

      October 6, 2010 at 9:39 am |
    • Randy

      I agree about the 'comfort' factor. It would be interesting to see a study on how people feel about a church after one or two visits, in terms of 'are they made feel welcome', or just stared at with incredulity.
      I talked to a friend about this, who is a black pastor.
      He said it's true, in general blacks feel more welcome in white churches- PARTICULARLY evangelical churches- than whites are made to feel welcome in black churches (although ministers themselves would love to have more white or hispanic attendees... but the parishioners in these black churches often disagree with that philosophy.
      He thinks the reason may be what someone else here cited- that the rest of the environment in the U.S. has become highly integrated- schools, workplace, etc., and the church is the last bastion where they feel they can relax and everything seem like 'old home week'– i.e. 'family'. He admits that this means churches don't have an evangelical outlook as their first priority, but have become insular. And we have seen that when this happens with churches, the age inside those churches gets older and older and eventually dies, because it is not attractive to young people. It's exactly what happened to mainline protestant denominations in the U.S., and to Church of England and Catholicism in Europe. The churches are there, but few attend on Sundays, and CERTAINLY not at any other time during the week. It's lip service if anything.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:26 am |
    • screename12

      I think you meant...We need to overcome that...

      October 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • Glen

      I agree Scott there are many churches that worship in different styles but they basically believe the same thing just execute it differently except of course Black Liberation theology which is goes counter the Biblical Gospel. I have been to many churches in many different countries I have seen many diverse congregation abroad and in the US. The reason we have people that congregate according to their origin is because of the style of worship. Black tend to be more in Methodist, Pentecostal and Baptist church that does not mean there are no blacks in other congregations. White tends to be more in traditional old style churches whose style of worship is different from the traditional black churches. Then you have the more modern Evangelical places where you will see all different races and origins because they incorporate styles from all sides to please as many as possible. Even though the style of worship is different we still worship the same God the Trinity and believe we are saved by the Grace of God and the death burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is what binds us Believers together. There are those that will mock and ridicule people of faith but Jesus told us that they will do to us what they did to him so it should come as no big surprise even the disciples and apostle and one point in their lives either didn't believe or persecuted people who did believe until their eyes were opened this is nothing new. We can only pray that God will eventually open the eyes of those that mock Him here while there is still time and continue to show Christian love just as our Savior thought us to.

      I am of an Asian decent but I would not like to go to an all Black church just as much as I would not like to be in an all white church but then again I would not want an all Asian congregation either, does that make me a racist ? We should be glad that the God of the Bible gave us many options or flavors as I like to call it, to choose from, unlike other faith where we all have to do the exact same thing, in exactly the same way, this includes Jews and Gentiles that believe in Him.

      I prefer a church that is accepting of all people from all languages and nations in the world, as long as we follow the Living God of the Holy Scriptures as it says in the book of Revelations about what its like in Heaven:

      "After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands." Revelation 7:9

      I don't know about you but that sounds pretty inclusive to me the only thing they all have in common is they put their faith in the One who came to set us free and show us the way to heaven, Jesus Christ or Yeshua Ha-Mashiach in Hebrew

      October 6, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
  14. Chris

    Groups of people may bring people together....but groups of religious zealots segregate. Its in the nature of religion to tell people their wrong.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:23 am |
    • No

      they're, not their

      October 6, 2010 at 8:51 am |
    • jhg

      cris, evidently you've never been to a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses

      October 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
  15. MAT

    Blacks choose to go to black churches. Go to a high school at linch and you will see the blacks sit together. Its their choice. So what? The left wants everyone to act how they think they should. Its perfectly understandable why blacks feel more comfortable with blacks, latinos with latinos, and whites with whites. Why demonize everything?

    October 6, 2010 at 8:20 am |
    • No

      I remember when riding the bus to school as a kid all the black kids would sit at the back of the bus. No one forced them to, that was just where they wanted to sit. These particular kids sat in the back so they would be less likely to be caught doing things they weren't supposed to.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:50 am |
    • Dean

      The only one 'demonizing' is you. The article simply stated that this study indicated that people tend to congregate with those they feel comfortable around when they have a choice. Not exactly a startling discovery, but it certainly isn't 'demonizing'

      October 6, 2010 at 9:48 am |
    • Matt

      No-one's going to comment on "go to a high school at linch..."? I'm not sure if that's a misspelling of "lunch" or "lynch".

      October 6, 2010 at 10:07 am |
    • mat

      Lynch? Really. Like I said the left uses race to demonize and divide. Why else did the black vote for Obama equal over 90%? Look at the approval ratings. Same numbers among them, not so nationally. I dont feel one bit sorry for people who go around lamenting about things that happend over a century and a half ago to people they have never met or can even call by name because they are told by the people they are now enslaved by that that is how they should feel. Its a sorry excuse. No pity at all. Just cut their hand outs and see how much support the left will get then. Blacks have conservative values on many issues but the right wont pay them for it.

      October 6, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  16. El Stevo

    We simply cannot have people worshiping where they feel like worshiping.

    We need an article about this... and maybe some legislation.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:17 am |
    • Holly


      October 6, 2010 at 8:26 am |
    • Imfromthegovernment and . . .

      Excellent post. The government should do something about this. Create an agency of some sort to regulate it. It would help if we bureaucrats to tell us where to go to church. Thank you big government1 Also, my diaper needs changing.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:43 am |
    • krippendorf

      Where in the world do you get this from the article? It's simply reporting a fact about our society.

      Be careful of reading, you might learn something. Far better just to parrot whatever Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh say.

      October 6, 2010 at 9:35 am |
    • >:


      October 6, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  17. Bee-rye

    How bout people just get with the times, cut the charade and find something else to do on Sunday morning that isn't arcane, make believe and segregated. The Church of the NFL. have you seen? the white wide receiver is no longer an endangered species and New England and Cleveland have white starting running backs. yay, diversity!!!

    October 6, 2010 at 8:17 am |
    • superbilly

      YUP...long live the UNITED SPORTS OF AMERICA!!! One nation under the hoop, with liberty, NO justice and MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL fer ALL!!!

      October 6, 2010 at 8:24 am |
    • dawgpound

      Peyton Hillis!

      October 6, 2010 at 10:03 am |
    • Daniel from Jersey

      agreed. There was a great article in Sports illustrated a while back that spoke of how coaches were forced by parents of black and white children to play them at positions based on race. People are finally seeing its not race that defines greatness at certain positions but passion, dedidcation, and a lot of sweat.

      October 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  18. Andrew

    Probably won't ever happen. This is a holdover from slavery, but in a different way than other effects of slavery. Because slaves and ex-slaves couldn't read and worshipped through passionate song, the post-slavery black churches developed that style of worship. While no church is exactly the same, black churches tend to have a much more animated, passionate church. As a result, black churches likely have difficulty attracting white worshipers who are more traditional and have a less animated service. Similarly, those more reserved churches have difficulty attracting black worshipers who are accustomed to a celebratory, lively service.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:17 am |
    • IWFKU

      Organized religion is a holdover from the dark ages and the mentality required to participate is consistent with that period. Division, inequality, hatred, fear, and ignorance are the cornerstones of worship, so it shouldn't really matter if you're black, white, or purple; if you're going to church and praying to an imaginary man in the clouds, it's pretty safe to assume you're nuts.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:31 am |
    • CSmith

      You may want to try it some time. You may be surprised how inclusive, loving, equal, courageous, and enlightened we are. Or not. In which case you picked a terrible church. Remember, the fruits of the spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. If you find a church that doesn't have any of these, its one who's "faith" is dead.

      October 6, 2010 at 9:21 am |
    • dan

      Organized religion is a holdover from the dark ages and the mentality required to participate is consistent with that period. Division, inequality, hatred, fear, and ignorance are the cornerstones of worship, so it shouldn't really matter if you're black, white, or purple; if you're going to church and praying to an imaginary man in the clouds, it's pretty safe to assume you're nuts.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
      Your a bigot. Your bigoted against religion. Your statement does nothing but spout hate.
      The only good bigot is a dead one. No matter what type of bigotry is being practiced. You should become a good bigot.

      October 6, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • A

      IWFKU is certainly not a bigot. Religion is incredibly divisive and dangerous. Yes, it does good charitable deeds around the world but I'm not sure that balances out the scandals of the Catholic church, the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, the fanatic muslim terrorist attacks.... We don't need religion to be moral. It's something inherent within ourselves that we either have or have not. Those that need religion to be moral have questionable morals to begin with. Religion controls the masses and shed a lot of light on people in the dark ages who needed answers before the development of science. And we're still using it because people are always going to be afraid and need to find hope through the promise of an imaginary friend. Dan, if I told you I was a Pastafarian who worshipped a giant flying spaghetti monster, would you think that was silly? The only difference I see between worshipping a spaghetti monster and a big, bearded giant in the sky is about two thousand years.

      October 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • Sheila

      I am almost afraid to say this to you, since I have read some of your HATE filled reteric. But you too are a BIGOT. You may be biggoted against bigots but it is still a matter of the pot calling the kettle black.

      October 6, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
    • KDW

      Off topic but sheila's comment made me think of this. It's a clip from a band called alpha believe it is ripped from another source but don't know "I'm a snob. I'm a snob about snobs. I look down on people who look down on people."

      October 6, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  19. Shawn

    Schools, the military, and business have to comply with anti-discrimination rules and laws, however church membership is completely voluntary and is more likely to show society's real inclination....that they feel more comfortable being segregated. Its just a fact, although people can get along and enjoy the company of others, the bottom line is everyone is most comfortable being around their own kind.

    October 6, 2010 at 8:14 am |
    • J.

      I don't know about you but my "own kind" is human kind. I do not differentiate between "us" and "them".

      October 6, 2010 at 8:56 am |
    • Leann

      Did you read what you wrote? You are the problem with society. EU doesn't seem to have this problem

      October 6, 2010 at 9:29 am |
    • K

      It still amazes me how we willingly overlook or look beyond the packaging of goods and services but yet fail and/or refuse to do so when it comes to a human beings. When we purchase a car or buy food, though our eyes maybe attracted to the packaging, most will not purchase same until after we have read the fine print regarding the package's contents. I'll never forget an experience whereby I was placed in a group simply because my body-bag looked like the other body-bags in the group. Even though members of the group had vastly different views regarding politics, religion, music, food, entertainment, and humor we were all grouped together because of what we looked like on the outside. As a result, we were all miserable. How long will we as Americans continue to live with our eyes wide shut!

      October 6, 2010 at 9:46 am |
    • Scot

      Evangelical churches are the last bastian of pure racisim. Even some of the larger churches have thier back stabing bigiotry but the South has its roots in this segragation after over 150 years sisne slavery was abolished.

      October 6, 2010 at 9:46 am |
    • Howard

      I believe the study fails to acknowledge that one of the primary determinants of where people go to church is how close to home the church is. So, the real issue isn't how integrated or segregated the churches are, but the neighborhoods in which they're located.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:00 am |
    • Truthblunt

      I agree. I'm in the military and I see people enjoying the company of people from many different backgrounds and ethinicities at work, ceremonies, office parties and even recreational outtings. However when it comes to church,nightclubs and other settings people are more comfortable with those whom they can relate to. I have rgeat friends whom are into hunting and fishing, but I'm city boy, so on the weekends I'm not hunting or fishing very often, so outside of work settings we don't really hang out. It's not about race, it's about culture, where you grew be it rural or urban areas. African-American culture has always worshipped in a different way since bought to America. Forcing people to be near around around each other is not the answer to racism.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:12 am |
    • >:

      Good point Howard.

      Leann, what was wrong with what he wrote? Seems to me he is just stating an observation. So people who make observations about their surroundings are the problem with society?-Lol. No, people who make observations of their surrounding are only a problem for the church. Perhaps I misread?

      October 6, 2010 at 10:31 am |
    • MikeTX


      I can't comment on you, since I don't know you. But throughout my life, I've had good, close friends of all races and ethnicities, either in my private life or my personal life.
      I base my friends and people who I hang with on if we have a good time together, and have fun. It doesn't matter to me what they look like, where their ancestors came from, or where they grew up. If we click, we click.

      If I don't hang out with some one that is white, black, Asian, Native, Hispanic, it is because I don't think they are fun to be around. Who cares what they look like, where they grew up, etc... If we have any differences, it just makes life more interesting.

      I guess I do discriminate on some level: if someone is boring, I take off. I guess the next study will be why we don't like to be around people we consider boring. yikes!!

      October 6, 2010 at 10:35 am |
    • >:

      To back up Shawn here: Another place where you see the natural inclination is the lunchroom. In my experience, in the high school cafeteria, the black members of my school pretty much segregated themselves. One corner was all black students who chose to sit together. You wouldn’t notice segregation any other time besides in the lunchroom. They just felt more comfortable I speculate. Do they feel more comfortable around one another due to our progressively less racist society?-That is probably true as well.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:55 am |
    • Bugmenot

      All hail J! Like he said

      October 6, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • Jean Malloy

      Shawn, Thank you. In Sociological Theory, it is called "Consciousness of Kind", there is nothing wrong with it. The harm in ANY religion is when it teaches hatred toward ANY of mankind.

      October 6, 2010 at 11:25 am |
    • dan

      Did you read what you wrote? You are the problem with society. EU doesn't seem to have this problem

      October 6, 2010 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
      The EU bigots do nothing but practice segregation when it comes to Muslims. I think I would shut the f up bigot if I was you? Hey, don't forget your segregation of the Jews during war war 2. Wait, what was that I just read? Hate crimes against jews and Muslims are on the rise in the EU?

      Shut the hell up. When the EU can resolve its own hate towards ethnic groups, THAN IT CAN TALK TO THE UNITED STATES.

      October 6, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • JonathanL

      I remember being at a church in Virginia, and the only black woman was the maid of my friend's mother. I still remember how the priest was shaking everybody's hand as people left and then he held his hand back when the maid politely held hers out! Needless to say it is one reason I don't give much credence to preachers. The impression is indelible. I was also once the only white in a black church in CT. I lived in a black neighborhood for about 2 years and you had a choice of either belonging to a church, a gang, or being more or less a loner. Even as a white Athiest the congregation welcomed me – were very nice and for the most part trying to imrove their lives. I agreed to be baptized though I made it clear I did not believe and told them honestly the baptism didn't really affect me. Later I did stop going to Church but also never joined a gang – moved on from that neighborhood FYI – If this all puzles u, even as an Atheist my morals are as strong and probably stronger than those of most religious people. When I was in Ct. I decided would rather be with a group of people who at least were trying to develop morally, rather than with a gang who would rather degenerate morally. So a church should not really just be a subsitute for an ethnic gang, and probably are for the most part segregated only because the neighborhoods are. The very different cultures also help to keep them segregated. Birds of a feather, OK, but as long as people of other ethnic backgrounds are allowed in it really isn't segregated. IMO we should get over our differences and should take advantage of the possibility of learning things from other cultures. I love NYC because people like to preserve the good things about their own cultures, and there are many ethnic enclaves here, but we all seem to borrow the good things from the other cultures, and there are many. You learn to accept that there are many different interesting cultures, and religions, and colors. You can also still be yourself and have your own beliefs even if they are different from the mainstream, and no one is going to come up and stick it to you because of that (of course there are exceptions – always a straggler idiot in the crowd somewhere). The fact that Athiests are smarter, doesn't say much – most people are born know it alls and don't want to learn anything (how to spell etc.). I have advenced degreed, went to Sunday School, an Episcopalian Church, a private Episcopalian school with a morning daily service, and even studied religion for a while. I even studied the various major religions of the world, and a few others. I did think about it. It is my choice, an educated choice. Not necessarily smarter, but maybe more educated – It is better to be in the know....

      October 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Shawn: I agree. People gravitate towards their own kind. And most often that is based on looks. If you walk into a room and it's filled with variations of people, you will most likely walk up to the person you consider to be most like what you know best and hang around with them. It's just the natural human need to try to make sense of our world by starting with what is most familiar and going to what is most challenging – that which is least familiar. However, as people who need to share the world, it is our duty to endeavour to overcome the fear of the unknown by becoming more and more familiar with things far from our comfort zone. That's how we learn, and grow and coexist.

      October 6, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  20. Ricky

    why would money be spent on this study, everyone already knew this......

    October 6, 2010 at 8:13 am |
    • Terry from West Texas

      Every time a study is reported, the two most popular comments are:
      1. "Why did they do a study on this? I could have told them. These results are obvious." – These people were once shooting spitwads at the smart kids in science class – and they're still doing it.

      2. "This is a waste of my hard-earned tax money. I work my butt off..." – You know the rest. It seems to me that relatively few American butts have been worked off.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:35 am |
    • Run4DaHills

      @Terry – Ditto.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:51 am |
    • Raj

      That is what religions are. They divide humans. How many proofs we need. Leave without religions and enjoy true America dream.

      October 6, 2010 at 8:52 am |
    • CSmith

      You don't know what you're talking about. It isn't religion that divides humanity, it's humanity. Just look at any atheistic system in history and you'll see the same divisions. Does the line "some pigs are more equal than others" ring any bells?

      October 6, 2010 at 9:14 am |
    • Abudu Mukarram

      Was it your money???

      October 6, 2010 at 9:31 am |
    • Abudu Mukarram

      You guys are just in the wrong religion. In the mosque where I worship there are at least 20 different ethnicities. American Blacks and whites, Hispanic, Arabian, Senegalese, Pakistani, Palestinian, Jordanian, Iraqi, Iranian, Afghan, Uzbekistian, Canadian, Syrian, Ghanaian, Dutch, Lebanese, Yemenite, Nigerian, Somalian, Sudanese, Kuwaiti, Egyptian, Ethiopian, British and many more. There is no racism in most of the mosque in America and around the world. When I was in Senegal there were white Arabs in the mosque in the middle of Senegal.

      October 6, 2010 at 9:38 am |
    • S. Parker

      Abudu Mukarram, you are proving Raj's point when he said "That is what religions are. They divide humans." By you saying that "You're in the wrong religion" you are creating divisiveness. Aren't the teaching of Mohammed about inclusion and not division?? Perhaps you have the wrong idea of your religion.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:08 am |
    • >:

      You are from Texas.-that sucks

      October 6, 2010 at 10:21 am |
    • SpecOpsMike

      yep. get it. for example: blacks make up less than one percent of the missionary services overseas who have never heard of Jesus. this is according to the "2007 african american missions mobilization manifesto,' by colombia university. organized religion in this country is a sham.

      October 6, 2010 at 10:25 am |
    • Mike

      to Raj : Yep, your right. Division is what Christ come for not peace. He came to seperate the ones who accept Him as their personal savior and the rest of the world. However I want to make it clear that He didn't come to divide us by race, but by His kingdom and the rest of the world. You have a choice that you can either choose Christ or you can choose otherwise. The bottom line is those who accept Him have a free gift to heaven when they die. Those who do not will be damned in the eternal lake of fire.

      October 6, 2010 at 11:07 am |
    • matt

      People want to hear what they want from who they want. Just follow the money.. It is all about the money.

      October 6, 2010 at 11:46 am |
    • B. A.

      Yep, Ricky. I was gonna say, "Geeeeeee, what a surprise." You said it better. You really think there are people who are so unaware of life to miss this one?

      October 6, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • effelbee

      Terry, well said. Many people think they know the obvious, but only after they are reminded of it! And this was not some taxpayer-funded study as Ricky seems to think. The truth is that St Paul has the most to do with the diversity of the early Christian Church (Followers of the Way), but today religion is used politically and otherwise to divide humans into "us" as against "them". It has outlived its usefulness and now flies in the face of both science and world peace.

      October 6, 2010 at 11:56 am |
    • Had enough yet?

      Oh God can't have this! [sarcasm] I am personally sick of these articles and the hateful people that write them. They are trying to force there Utopia on the rest of society. It’s called social engineering. Dictators in waiting. Trying to FORCE there policies on the rest of the people whether you like it or not.

      Did they EVER think its called FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION. The last I checked we still have that in America. Leave people be.

      October 6, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
    • Glen

      Not true Noorullah, if you honestly search the Scriptures you will find many instances when Jesus claimed to be God, also he never scolded people, when they fell down to worship Him. Here are some examples: When He was resurrected, his disciple Thomas did not believe he was raised from the dead until he saw him for himself and touched and felt the nail scars, it was only then that he exclaimed "My Lord and My God". Jesus never scolded him for this, in fact he rebuked him for not believing without seeing. He said Blessed are they who believe without seeing. He is know, as the Alpha and the Omega the beginning and the end in the book of Revelations, who else but God can made such a claim. The Mighty God, the Everlasting Prince of Peace.

      Why do you think he was crucified if he was just a nice guy doing good things? He claimed things that were considered to be Blasphemy according to Jewish law when he said the Father and I are One and before Abraham was "I Am" He was claiming that He was the "Great I AM" of the Old testament, now come in the flesh and came to pay the price of sin for man, the only acceptable perfect sacrifice, the lamb wihtout blemish, that God would accept because he was indeed God in flesh.

      You would probably have the same reaction to Him if he came today, that the Jews did in those days but if you knew your scripture like they should have known, they would know that He was telling the truth. The scripture of old claimed that a man would come to suffer and die and take the sins of the world upon himself he would be bruised beaten and crucified and then He would come a second time as a conquering messiah. Jews believe they are two different people but we now know its the same person coming a second time the first time to save for those who believe in Him and the second one to impart Justice and Judgment on the world.

      Here are some verses off the top of my head to support what He has said: You search the scripture because you think they have eternal life but these scripture testify about me but you don't believe and hence you will die in your sins unless you believe. I am the Way the Truth and the Life, No one comes into heaven without first believing in me. I am the Gate I am the Door, I am the Bread of Life, etc

      October 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
    • neoritter

      The article nearly hits the nail on the head. The problem I think isn't that people are not going to a church because people don't "look like" them (which is a broad ranging concept), but that the delivery is different and probably correlates to the culture they're from. And that is more of an indicator that the country's ethnicities aren't mixing as culturally as we thought. In the Protestant world, particularly the Baptist, there is always numerous churches to choose from. If one doesn't suit your tastes it's easy to go to the next one. While Abudu's speculation is basically true, the way he phrased it is wrong. In religions and denominations where there is usually only one church to go to the make up is probably more linked to the ethnic make up of the surrounding community. This would apply for instance to Muslim mosques and Catholic churches. There may be another church or mosque that is within driving distance, but it's probably just too far out of the way to warrant going to that one over the closer one.

      October 6, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
    • neoritter

      @effelbee – Please try using your own thoughts and words instead of pushing someone elses cliche tripe.

      October 6, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
    • MDL7

      Raj – you have no friggin idea what the "American Dream" is if you feel that life without religion is the way to go. Remember – people came to this country to avoid religious persecution.
      Of course religion may seem segregated – that's the way it is. But then after service on Sundays I don't see a lot of those people mingling for some football. This study was a total waste of time.

      October 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • tonyd33

      the lack of diversity in churches, shows that America still has a long way to go when it comes to ending racism and dicrimination. We as Christians should be leading the fight for diversity and inclusion. What this artical shows is we still are a divided country.

      October 6, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
    • I'm a preacher

      Part of the reason for the segregation within membership is the segregation in administration of many churches. Most churches will only hire their own race to be senior pastor; that's wrong and not Biblical. For instance, I hold an M. Div from Gordon-Conwell Seminary in MA and looked for several pastoral position in numerous churches; I did not care about race make-up. All the churches required a picture. To make a long story short, I never got a call for interview even though my seminary GPA was in the 3's and I had experience. Check it out for yourself; there is discrimination in the hire practices.

      October 6, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
    • Jesus Way

      For everyone of you that dont go to church, which reading some of these ridiculous comments do not. The church is a PUBLIC place. PUBLIC places do not say only white people are allowed here. How can it be the churches fault that most of it's members are white? At my church most of the members are white but we do have many people that go that are not white. If non white people start going to church more often then that is AWESOME. But this is not the churches fault. If there is a church that doesnt allow non white people in it then it needs to be stopped because that is wrong and they are falling away from God. This is coming from a African-American christian by the way.

      October 6, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
    • Josh in FL

      MDL7, I suppose you know what the "American Dream" is, huh? Maybe some people came to this new land to avoid religious persecution, but most came because either they were criminals or things really sucked for them economically. Why is it all you jesus freaks think everything about this country was centered on religion? Did you not go to a good HS where they taught you history, because its doubtful you went to college with thinking like that. Religion is the bain of our existence and I look forward to the day that it is gone!

      October 6, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      @ Glen

      I want to share my humble take on your post and "if you honestly search the Scriptures you will find many instances.."

      1. which do not conform with science
      2. which classify rapi$ts, infant killer$ and arsoni$ts under the "crusader" category
      3. which are filled with p0rn0graphy.

      October 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      @ Glen again, your first proof:

      "Thomas did not believe he was raised from the dead until he saw him for himself and touched and felt the nail scars, it was only then that he exclaimed "My Lord and My God". "

      What would you scream if a car is about to run you over ?..lemme guess by your logic you would scream "my car and my Mercedes" ?, eh ?? I have heard even an atheist call out "my goooodddd!!!!" right before he becomes road kill..

      makes sense ??

      October 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      Thomas, the disciple was in awe as if he had seen a ghost and its a natural reflex to scream "My god and My lord"..

      October 6, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
    • peace2all


      Please..... Give the accept "jc as your saviour... or be 'dam-ned' into hell ..i.e...eternal lake of fire...gnashing of teeth" bit a F*****G REST please...!

      You make yourself sound ridiculous.

      October 6, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
    • Goferit


      Mike's making himself (and religion) look ridiculous is the BEST part of him! Let him rant... and take every opportunity to counter his nonsense...

      October 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Had Enough yet; The dissemination of information is not forcing you to do anything. Nowhere in this article does it say we should be integrating different kinds of people into our churches. It asks that question. Yet you jump to the conclusion that someone is forcing you to do something. Keep a level head, because this propensity that people have to see reds under the beds, this paranoia, is a much bigger problem.

      October 6, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
    • Frogist

      @neoritter: I'm inclined to believe what you're saying. It's a simple idea that these race segregations are based on the environment around the church. If it is a predominantly white area, it follows that the church will be predominantly white. But it also goes with family lines. People of the same family keep to the same church. Even if they move away from the area, the church is considered a family tradition and so they don't mind travelling some distance to get to it. Also certain churches obviously cater to certain groups. My friend goes to an evangelical philipino church, because he is philipino and enjoys hearing service in his own language. Occasionally, they also have picnics and celebrations where philipino food is common. That points to a social factor as well that could attract like to like.

      October 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • Mike not from above

      I want to make a distinction between the one that is always at odds with Reality, Froggest, Nl, sometimes Peace and the one above.

      October 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
    • Fireoasis

      This is not an american issue, this is a global issue, but more importantly it isn't really an 'issue' at all. I do not believe that churches are for the most part racist. Instead it is a factor of religious beliefs and practices, and yes as the article states comfort. It is as strong as the separation from Protestant and catholic, Baptist and non denominational. Just as there are many different versions of the 'religion' there are different groups of people who participate in them. Leave the churches alone unless there is someone standing at the door telling certain people they can't come in.

      October 10, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • Paul Murray

      "The first Christian church was known for its diversity. Jews, Gentiles, and Greeks mingled alongside women and slaves."

      Ha! Do you suppose that ever really happened? The NT (indirectly) records the conflict between the Jewish and Hellenic christians in several spots. The mingling was an ideal – Paul pleads with people to put that sort of stuff behind them and play nicely together. You don't bother asking for that unless it is not actually happening. Equality in christ was always an ideal. People just don't work that way.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:44 am |
    • M. Cooper

      The church is not just only for blacks and white but for all people. The church I attend has 15 dfferent nationalities and we all get along just fine like it should be. We all share our experences and culture with each other and give praises and thanks to God our Father and the his son Jesus together as one.

      October 23, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.