A new poll by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that black women are among the most religious groups in the U.S., and rely on God the most in times of trouble.
The poll asked four different groups – black men, black women, white men and white women – to respond to certain religious and lifestyle questions, and found that black women were more prone to cite religion as very important in their lives.
On the question of "How important is living a religious life to you personally?" 74 percent of black women said that it was very important. That number – compared to 57 percent of white women, 70 percent of black men, and 43 percent of white men – suggests that as a whole, black people are more likely to take religious life much more seriously than white people.
Similar numbers were revealed when respondents were asked how much of a role God or faith plays when they are trying to get through tough times in life – 86 percent of black women said it was very important, compared to 66 percent of white women, 79 percent of black men, and only 51 percent of white men, who turned out to be the least religious group among the respondents to the poll.
When asked about lifestyle questions, the religiosity of each group also reflected how satisfied they are in life.
At 51 percent, black women were the most satisfied in their life than all other groups, although all four groups remained roughly near the 50-50 mark. Exactly 50 percent of white women were "very satisfied" with their life, compared to 46 percent of black men and 48 percent of white men.
The Washington Post suggested that cultural differences largely attribute to the faith divide among blacks and whites, noting that African-Americans' exposure to gospel music, summer Bible school and "all-day church on Sundays" was a shared experienced. It was also suggested that a devotion to faith and God "more strongly connect black men and women to their slave ancestors, who leaned on religious faith to help maintain their dignity in the face of discrimination and harsh and unjust treatment."
"Black women have been the most mistreated and scandalized in U.S. society and culture as they wrestle both individually and collectively with the triple jeopardy of racism, sexism and classism," said Stacey Floyd-Thomas, an associate professor of ethics and society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. "If that is the case – and I believe it is – it is no wonder that black women, due to their experience of sexism, would seek out their faith as a way of finding relief, reprieve, resolution and redemption."
The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll was done via telephone Oct. 6 to Nov. 2, 2011, among a random national sample of 1,936 adults.