Journal Article

How Monochromatic is Church Membership? Racial-Ethnic Diversity in Religious Community

Kevin D. Dougherty

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 64, issue 1, pages 65-85
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
How Monochromatic is Church Membership? Racial-Ethnic Diversity in Religious Community

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It is a common conception that the church is among the most segregated of American institutions, yet there is little research to identify the extent of racial-ethnic homogeneity or to explain what factors propel diversity within religious communities. Research that does exist draws primarily on individual level data and treats diversity as a categorical variable. This paper introduces a continuous measure of racial-ethnic diversity. It also brings attention to contextual features (region and location size) and organizational features (faith group, church structure, and socioeconomic characteristics) of local religious communities in order to understand the importance of proximity and similarity in promoting racial-ethnic integration. The analysis employs the 1993 American Congregation Giving Study, a sample of 625 congregations and parishes from five Christian traditions. Findings suggest that religious communities are not wholly monochromatic. Patterns of diversity differ by faith group, region, and location size. A discussion of implications concludes the paper.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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