Saturday, December 21, 2019

What's most important for identity--race or religion?

The view of many human biodiversity (HBD) people is that genes are a critical determinant of human behavior and culture, and the power of genes gets expressed at the individual, family and ethnic/racial levels. The contention that race as a genetic reality is a tremendous social force is, of course, the most controversial.

In a recent piece published at, E. Michael Jones challenges this view by arguing that the key distinction among Americans is religion, not race.  While some HBD-ers contend that the fundamental conflict is racial, and old-time Marxists would argue that it's class, Jones sees the central struggle between the alliance of Protestants and Catholic versus Jews. He would update his view to include the growing presence of Muslims, but he sees people with no religion as lacking an identity, as being social nobodies, and since nature abhors a vacuum, the irreligious are drawn to identity politics. So it sounds like Jones is acknowledging the growing power of non-religious identities like feminist, gay, racialist, etc.

One way to measure identity is to look at marriage: If religion is really important to you, you will probably marry someone of the same faith.  Using General Social Survey data, I looked at the percentage of people who marry inside their group. I include ethnicity (i.e., where your family originally came from) as well as current religious affiliation. Religious denomination is shown in bold.

Percent who married within their own group 

Blacks  90.4
American Indian  87.5
Asian Indian  86.4
Protestant  86.3
Southern Baptist  83.6
Lutheran Missouri Synod  82.8
American Lutheran  81.9
Chinese  80.8
Orthodox Christian  80.0
Mexican  79.7
Jewish  79.5
United Methodist 79.1
American Baptist  77.8
Catholic  76.8
United Presbyterian  73.4
Episcopalian  73.2
Japanese  68.8
Puerto Rican  67.6
Filipino  66.7
No religion  42.9
Greek  38.9
German  37.6
Dutch  34.4
English/Welsh  34.0
Russian  32.1
French Canadian  31.5
Spanish  29.8
Irish  27.6
Polish  27.3
Norwegian  21.6
Czech  18.5
Austrian  14.8
Danish  12.5
Scottish  12.5
Swedish  11.7
French  9.4
Swiss  8.3

Keep in mind that many of these people got married a long time ago, so with the recent decline in religiosity, the numbers for religion shown here are probably high.

Having said that, the most endogamous groups tend to be non-whites followed by religious denominations. White ethnicities, even those of a putatively ethnocentric bent (e.g., Greeks, Irish), are the least likely to marry within the group. As sociologists predicted some time ago, white ethnics are simply becoming whites. But the intermarriage rates of whites with Asians and Hispanics (about 60% of inter-racial marriages are between whites and Hispanics or whites and Asians) and the lack of voting as a bloc suggest that white consciousness is pretty weak.

Even though the Protestant endogamous rate is high, I'm skeptical that this is as meaningful as Jones thinks. As a Catholic, he may think they're all the same, but who really identifies as a Protestant? As a Southern Baptist, yes. As a Mormon, yes. There is very little common identity and unity among Protestants. For one thing, there is a major divide between conservative Evangelicals and liberal Christians.

Jones makes a good point that religion is an important source of identity for many Americans, but he overstates the case. Non-whites are growing in number in the US, and for them race is important.  As religion declines, people are developing political identities--progressive, feminist, sexual minority, or racialist. Jones says that "Logos is Rising"--that Catholicism is growing.  According to the data, "Raza is Rising."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Is skin tone correlated with job prestige?

The General Social Survey rated the skin darkness of a sample of black Americans, ranging from "very dark brown" to "very lig...