The Atlantic

There Are More Black Catholics in the U.S. Than Members of the A.M.E. Church

How black Americans defy religious stereotypes—and navigate race relations in historically white, European spaces.
Source: Courtesy of the Archives of the Chicago Province of the Society of the Divine Word in Techny, Illinois

In the wake of this summer’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decided to create a new, ad hoc committee against racism. According to Anthea Butler, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, it is the U.S. Church’s first major effort to deal with race since 1979.

This is an appropriate moment for the Church to confront this issue. In August, The Washington Post that an Arlington, Virginia, priest named William Aitcheson had been arrested in the ’70s for burning crosses and threatening African American and Jewish families as a member of the Ku Klux Klan—and he never paid restitution or apologized to the victims. More broadly, the Church is increasingly experiencing divisions over politics along racial lines: In the 2016 election, 56 percent of white Catholics voted for Trump, compared to only 19 percent of Hispanic Catholics, to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

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