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Christian Religion and Ethnic Prejudice in Cross-National Perspective

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Almost every student of religion has heard about the research thesis that Christian religious beliefs and behaviors are not barriers against but contributing factors to the development and dispersal of ethnic and racial prejudice. This cross-societal study examines this accusing finger of social research by using data from a 1985 Dutch survey and a 1991 Flemish survey conducted in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. The findings indicate that in both societies neither church involvement nor Christian belief have an effect on ethnic prejudice, independent of important background characteristics (education and age) and social correlates (social and cultural localism, authoritarianism, and anomie). Regression analysis also reveals that, next to authoritarianism, the most important predictor variable of ethnic prejudice in this comparative study is nationality per se. Implications of this finding for future research are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Social Science Research Methods, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands; 2: Department of Sociology, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium


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