Most white Christians say killings of black men by police are isolated incidents: poll

A group of people gather at a memorial for George Floyd on June 3, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. | Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Most white U.S. Christians across denominational lines believe that police killings of African-American men are isolated incidents, according to the findings of a recently released survey.  

The Public Religion Research Institute released a report last Friday which found that majorities of white evangelicals (72%), white Catholics (56%), and white mainline Protestants (53%) viewed police killings of black men to be isolated incidents.

The percentage of white evangelical respondents expressing this opinion was basically unchanged when compared to polls taken in October 2018 (71%) and October 2015 (72%).

By contrast, both white Catholics and white mainline Protestants saw a considerable decline in the percentage of respondents who believed that the killings are isolated incidents. In October 2015, 71% of white Catholics and 73% of white mainline Protestants felt that the killings were isolated incidents.

White respondents who identified as religiously unaffiliated were far less likely to agree, with 30% surveyed in June saying they were isolated incidents.

Overall, 42% of Americans said they were isolated incidents, down from 53% in 2015.

For the June 2020 data, PRRI drew from an online survey conducted June 26-29 of 1,016 U.S. adults from all 50 states, with a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.

Down from 58% in 2015, 49% of Americans today disagree that generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for black Americans to work their way out of the lower class. White evangelicals (72%) are more likely to disagree compared to other religious groups.

Other findings included 59% of respondents saying that Confederate monuments are symbols of “Southern pride” rather than racism, 64% of Republican respondents saying they believe that discrimination against whites had become just as big a problem as discrimination against minorities, and 19% of Democrats saying they believe that police killings of black men are isolated incidents.

Over the past several months, the nation has erupted with protests and debates over race relations in America following the killing of African-American George Floyd by a white Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer.

Many have argued that American institutions, especially the criminal justice system, are influenced by “systemic racism” that results in disparate treatment for blacks and whites.

On Sunday, an African-American man named Jacob Blake was seriously injured after being shot reportedly seven times by police responding to a domestic incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Graphic video of the incident went viral on social media, sparking local protests that included a fire being started and another officer being attacked, according to CBS News. The short video clip shows the man going around the front of his car as officers follow him, with at least one officer holding a gun. After the man opens the car door and reaches in, he is shot.

According to the family's attorney, Ben Crump, Blake was shot in front of his children, who were in the car.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice announced that they will investigate the shooting, with the police officers who were present being put on administrative leave.

“While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country,” said Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, in a statement reported by CBS News.

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