Hit Dogs Holler

If you knew your history, then you would know where I’m coming from. Then you wouldn’t have to ask me who the hell do I think I am.
–Bob Marley

So…some bloody coward decided to do a hit piece of the Skinner House book “Centering” and call it a “review.” I am in no way shocked by this hit piece (although I’m surprised that it took 2 years for the bloody coward to write it), because a whole lot of white people [especially white liberals] don’t like it when Black people and other people of color hurt their fragile feelings when we tell them the truth of our experiences with them.

What’s really interesting to me is that these same cowards who write hit piece ignore the evidence, like the evidence I wrote about–in September–from the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion* which–as the abstract details:

In response to these inquiries, representatives from mainline Protestant churches—who generally embrace liberal, egalitarian attitudes toward race relations—actually demonstrated the most discriminatory behavior. They responded most frequently to emails with white-sounding names, somewhat less frequently to black-or Hispanic-sounding names, and much less to Asian-sounding names. They also sent shorter, less welcoming responses to nonwhite names. In contrast, evangelical Protestant and Catholic churches showed little variation across treatment groups in their responses.  

The research shows that white liberal churches are less welcoming to newcomers who aren’t white. That being the case, why would the experiences of religious professionals of color in white liberal churches be any different? And why was the bloody coward so butt-hurt about it?

It took the train ride back from San Diego for it to come to me: hit dogs holler. The bloody coward reviewer has mistreated people of color in their congregation and doesn’t like their behavior being displayed for all the world to see. Or, they’re mad that people of color are not “grateful” enough about being “allowed” into “their” Unitarian Universalism.

Whatever the reason, the hit dogs hollering have given me the idea for a new syllabus; the “No Time For White Nonsense” syllabus. It’ll be a minute before I’ll have the first draft of it up as a page here, but all this ignant (yes, ignant, not ignorant) nonsense must get called out for what it is.


*–Wright, Bradley R. E., Michael Wallace, Annie Scola Wisnesky, Christopher M. Donnelly, Stacy Missari, and Christine Zozula. 2015. “Religion, Race, and Discrimination: A Field Experiment of How American Churches Welcome Newcomers.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 54 (2): 185–204. doi:10.1111/jssr.12193.

6 thoughts on “Hit Dogs Holler

  1. “Also, religious tradition was a statistically significant determinant of all nine dependent variables. In fact, religious tradition was a stronger predictor than race/ethnicity in eight of the nine models—the only exception being whether a response was received. Thus, the overarching message from these analyses is that there are strong differences in the pattern of responses among different religious traditions, but nested within those differences are also tendencies for differential treatment of potential newcomers by their assumed race/ethnicity.”

    In other words, how churches responded – how soon, how long or friendly the response was, etc. – depended more on the denomination than on the name of the sender.

    And, despite the misleading summary in the abstract, there were significant differences between mainline Protestant denominations – American Baptist and Presbyterian USA churches responded at a higher rate to emails with black names that white ones, and American Baptist and Episcopialian churches responded at higher rates to black inquiries than any of the 6 evangelical denominations sampled. And 4 of the 6 evangelical denominations responded less to black inquiries than white. The only one which responded significantly more was the Assembly of God, who are 24% Latino, but only 3% black.

    Since the study didn’t include liberal denominations such as UU, UCC, Friends, it says nothing about how they would respond. And UU and UCC are a good bit more diverse than ELCA and United Methodists, who were the least welcoming mainline churches in this study.

    The picture from this study seems to me quite complex, and not to support the idea that “The research shows that white liberal churches are less welcoming to newcomers who aren’t white.”

    The full study is available at http://bradleywright.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Wright-et-al.-2015-Race-Religion-and-Discrimination.pdf

    • The abstract was NOT misleading, as it was the authors who wrote it.

      And if we’re going to get into the weeds, both the American Baptists and Episcopalians have Black groups like BLUU. (I know people in them)
      As for as not counting the Friends, Friends own data bears much of this out. If you’re interested, the Friends General Conference has this information.

      I’ve never said that data isn’t complex, but you seem determined to think that UUs or UCCs would be somehow different, when all evidence (and history) shows that they would not.

      • Authors can write misleading abstracts as well as anyone else. An abstract is like a jacket blurb, and designed to get people to read the study. Putting equivocal results in it doesn’t sell. That line in the abstract is not supported by the full findings. I am not claiming that UUs and UCC are completely different, but I think they are more likely to be more like American Baptists and the Episcopalians than ELCA or the Methodists. And the evidence in the study is that “American Baptist and Presbyterian USA churches responded at a higher rate to emails with black names that white ones.” The paper also goes into great detail about why it is in the interests of various denominations to be more or less welcoming to people who are not like the existing members in various ways, and asserts that it is not “aversion”. It is not that the data is complex (it is), but that the situation is complex. Unless we understand the complexity, and all the factors that are involved, we likely come to wrong solutions.

      • I find it interesting that you think that UUs and the UCC would be more like the American Baptists and Episcopalians, when, given the actual history, U/U/UU racial history looks much more like the ELCA. (I think UCC history is more complex in these terms)

        Having read the paper more than once since it came out, I come to different conclusions about it than you do. Mainly I don’t think the authors wrote a misleading abstract. And, if they had, the peer reviewers would have sent it back for a R&R. (maybe they did, but given that this is what was printed, the reviewers had less problem with it than you)

      • Also…I, nor the authors, said “aversion”. I said what the authors said, “less welcoming.”
        We’re talking at cross purposes.

  2. The authors did indeed say “less aversion”. But I see on reviewing the full quote that I misinterpreted what they said – “Further, existing multiracial membership might reflect an underlying willingness, and less aversion, to welcoming people from other groups.More generally, homogenous groupings can foster prejudice and discrimination in favor of one’s own group (Billig and Tajfel 1973).” I read it that it was not “aversion” that was the driving factor, but they are saying it is less of it in more diverse denominations.

    However, I still don’t see how “representatives from mainline Protestant churches—who generally embrace liberal, egalitarian attitudes toward race relations—actually demonstrated the most discriminatory behavior.” is not misleading. It is true that representatives from some mainline denominations did. It is equally true that representatives from other mainline Protestant churches actually demonstrated the least discriminatory behavior, as a group.

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