Understanding Associations between Religious Beliefs and White Privilege Attitudes

Nathan R. Todd, Rachael L. Suffrin, Elizabeth A. McConnell, Charlynn A. Odahl-Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars have grappled with how religion in the United States shapes attitudes toward racial inequality, often by focusing on racial inequality as out-group disadvantage. The current study extends this research by moving beyond racial inequality as out-group disadvantage to examine how religious conservatism and sanctification of social justice (i.e., attributing spiritual or religious significance to working for social justice) are associated with attitudes toward racial in-group advantage: white privilege. Using canonical correlation analysis with 475 white Catholic and Protestant students, results showed religious beliefs and white privilege attitudes were connected in two ways: (1) sanctification of social justice was positively associated with a dimension defined by greater willingness to confront white privilege and greater white privilege remorse and awareness and (2) religious conservatism was negatively associated with a dimension defined by greater awareness of white privilege. This shows how religion may facilitate or inhibit awareness and action related to white privilege.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-665
Number of pages17
JournalSociological Perspectives
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • religious conservatism
  • sanctification
  • white privilege attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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