Saturday, December 07, 2013

White flight from the white robe?

Taking note of Alfred Clark's observations about the 'ghettoization' of Christianity, the Derb recently wrote a piece for VDare exploring the phenomenon of white flight from the religion, an abandonment distinct from the general trend towards secularization in that it appears to be occurring more rapidly among whites than among NAMs.

The GSS has data on religious self-identification extending back through the early seventies up to the present. The following graph traces, by year, the percentages of non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Hispanics who indicated they had no religious affiliation. The mean sample sizes by year are 1112, 126, and 108, respectively:

Understanding there is some noise present in the year-to-year sampling, the white irreligious rate has been higher than the NAM irreligious rate has been over at least the last several decades. While the ratio hasn't changed much over the time period in question, the fact that the irreligious proportion of the population has gone from being fringe at the margins to the sizable minority that it is today probably makes the racial disparity more recognizable now than it was then. In the seventies, someone with no religious affiliation was so rare--and the proselytizing shrillness of New Atheism not yet a thing among them--that most people's pattern recognition software didn't pick up on the racial characteristics of non-believers. Today nearly one-in-five whites professes no affiliation, so if a person knows a handful of white guys, there's a good chance he knows at least one atheist or agnostic. And among an average person's facebook social circle there are tens or hundreds of people without any religious affiliation.

GSS variables used: RELIG(4), YEAR, ETHNIC(1)(2-3,6-15,18-19,21,23-27,32-33,36)(17,22,38)


bdoran said...

It's one thing to be told about Sin, Fire, Brimstone but SALVATION!

It's another to be told you're Evil because of skin and gender, by eunuchs yet, and no salvation.

They can get what passes for religion at MSNBC and feel guilty without actual offense.

OTOH old time religion [Orthodox for instance] is growing.

staffanspersonalityblog said...

It would be interesting to look at the ethnic origin of White atheists. I'm betting they are of Northwestern European ancestry, with perhaps the Irish being an exception.

JayMan said...


Actually, I suspect that more broadly "Northern European" than Northwest European. Religiosity appears to depend more on IQ than any other single variable; Northern Slavs are just as irreligious, if not more so, than their Western counterparts:

The World Value Survey Cultural Map 2005-2008

Dan said...

Re Slavic countries... Religion was banned under Communism. Every country that was recently Communist is a poor datapoint.

Dan said...

An interesting datapoint for you, Epigone:

Boers in South Africa are way more religious than the Dutch living in Europe:

Feeling under seige helps religiosity while living in a comfortable first world country hurts it. Does this help explain the greater religiosity of Southern whites? Pre-civil war, I don't think the south was more religious.

I think religiosity in Northern Europe is diminished especially in the case where there is an official government church (UK, Germany, Sweden, etc.)

The official church situation makes the religion marketplace stagnant and boring -- to the extand that a number of fast growing churches from America were labeled as cults and outlawed in European countries with a government church. In America at least you can shop around more and maybe find something you like.

Audacious Epigone said...

Heh, no atheists in a fox hole is the expression, right?

I remember Steve writing several years ago about the entrepreneurial spirit of (Protestant) mega churches in the US compared to the staid restrictiveness of American Catholicism.

Anonymous said...

I have a question about regression to the mean. If a man has an IQ of 140 and he marries a woman with an IQ of 90, what will be the IQ of their son/daughter, assuming a mean heritability of 0.6 for mother and father? Does anyone know the equation to calculate this? If so, what is it and how is it done? Much thanks.

geezer said...

From personal experience, churches
have become less Biblical and much more social-justice oriented
and we church goers have to atone for more current iniquities. I am not less religious--just more contemptuous of organized Church.

Anonymous said...

My religion is that of my Finnish ancestors back to the Ice Age, judging from my family's stories and archetypes.

My IQ is 145+.

I am Finnish and Swedish American.

Religion is a Mediterranean/African/Equatorial phenomenon of the degenerate imperial cities.

I was taught to question authority, treasure memory, and value the US constitution.

jgress said...

Religiosity and IQ may be correlated (presumably negatively) but how does this fit with Charles Murray's findings that it is among the lower-class, lower IQ whites that churchgoing has dropped most dramatically over the past few decades?

Regarding the point about Communism, there are a lot of confounding cultural, social and political factors influencing religiosity, such that I'm skeptical of findings that claim any significant correlation between IQ and religiosity.

For example, one might simplistically assume that the smarter you are, the more educated or better read, and so, if you believe the New Atheists, you'll simply discover for yourself that religion is irrational.

However, I've read enough recent philosophical work to show that in no way has science "disproven" the existence of God or specific religious claims. Rather, irreligiosity is simply a social marker that the educated liberal elite use to distinguish themselves from their political and cultural opponents. Therefore, any negative correlation between IQ and religiosity can be explained by culture.

jgress said...

@Anonymous asking about regression to the mean:

What you're looking for is the "breeder's equation". Greg Cochran explains it on his blog.

The equation is R = h^2*S

h^2 is the heritability coefficient
S is the selection differential, and means the difference between the mean IQ of the parents and the mean IQ of the population from which the parents are drawn

You subtract R (response to selection) from the mean parent IQ to get the expected average IQ of offspring

Let's assume heritability of IQ is 0.5 (i.e. your IQ is half-determined by genes, half by environment).

If a man with IQ of 140 has kids with a woman whose IQ is 90, and they're drawn from a population with mean IQ of 100, then S is AVERAGE(140:90)-100 = 115-100 = 15

R = 0.5*15 = 7.5

you expect their kids on average to have an IQ of 115 - 7.5 = 107.5

At least I hope I got that right!

jgress said...

The churches that are most into social justice now are the mainline Protestant churches, i.e. the kinds of churches that smarter, more educated whites attend.

There is a hardcore of educated whites who attend traditionalist churches (Antonin Scalia for example). Many of these also end up going to Orthodox churches (I'm actually one of those). I don't think it's a big trend, though.

Audacious Epigone said...


Thanks for all that.

The GSS shows an inverse correlation between firmness of expressed belief in God and IQ (Wordsum) but a gently positive correlation between frequency of church attendance and IQ.

Regular church attendance requires conscientiousness and forward planning, so I guess this isn't that surprising, but it is definitely interesting.

Jake said...

One observation: whites, except for Jews and Greeks, are the only race without an explicitly racial/ethnic home in any denomination.

Judaism is an ethnicity as well as a religion. You see explicitly black churches. Some churches may not be explicitly Hispanic, but they are implicitly so by virtue of services conducted in Spanish. You see Korean and Chinese and Vietnamese churches of various denominations. But most white ethnic groups have lost all ties to a particular ethnicity/culture.

So any cultural reason to maintain affiliation with a religion disappears, especially amongst white Christians, who are under heavy pressures, social and doctrinal, to embrace "diversity." And the further people get away from their immigrant roots, the less connection they feel to an ethnicity, anyway. For example, the vast majority of Americans of English and Scottish descent have little sense of being English or Scottish, since their ancestors immigrated to the US centuries ago.

As religion becomes purely doctrinal, the reasons to hang on lose their significance.

I expect that as the forces of multiculturalism grow stronger, the advantages to have an ethnic home in some denomination will grow, and those groups who lack that will suffer. Religion may make a comeback, at least for some.