Poll: Catholic homilies mention politics and racism less than Protestant homilies

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WASHINGTON (CNS) – While the news made headlines in the United States for months last year – especially the 2020 election, the coronavirus pandemic and racism in America – the homilies of priests n did not mention these events as much as the sermons of Protestant preachers, according to a July 8 report by the Pew Research Center.

Compared to their Protestant counterparts – regardless of color, majority, evangelical, or historically black – Catholics brought up the rear when it came to sharing at least one sermon on the fall election. latest. Overall, 67% of churches have done so, but only 41% of Catholics. And only 19% of Catholic parish websites mentioned the election, compared to 28% of all churches polled.

While 20% of Catholic election homilies encouraged voting – tied with all Christian sermons surveyed – only 36% discussed issues, candidates or political parties, the lowest percentage of any Christian group.

Catholics brought up the rear when it came to sharing at least one sermon on last fall’s election.

During the period studied – which included not only the election, but the pandemic and months of racial protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer – Catholics also came last in these two categories.

While 69% of Catholic parishes have heard at least one sermon relating to COVID-19, at least 82% of other Christian denominations have registered to hear a sermon on the subject. And only 32% of Catholics have heard a sermon mentioning racism, while 44% of Protestant Christians have.

The Pew study, “Pastors Often Discussed Elections, the Pandemic, and Racism in Fall 2020,” conducted its analysis based on texts from 12,832 sermons shared online by 2,143 US religious congregations – almost all Christian churches – pronounced between August 31. and November 8, 2020, a period that Pew noted that included the presidential election and the Sunday following polling day.

Only 32% of Catholics have heard a sermon mentioning racism, while 44% of Protestant Christians have.

Pew’s dataset includes sermons from 438 Evangelical Protestant congregations, 388 main Protestant congregations, 235 Catholic parishes, and 205 historically black Protestant congregations. Pew said the remaining congregations could not be reliably classified, belong to other Christian traditions such as Orthodox Christian denominations, or belong to other denominations.

“There are some basic principles at work” on why Catholic mentions of subjects in the news may not be as important in sermons as those of Protestants, said Dennis Quinn, a social scientist in the field. computer science for Pew, who was the study’s principal investigator and a similar text-based sermon from 2019.

Mass, Quinn said, will be “by definition more structured than services from other groups. It reduces the possibility of that happening, like an election, ”he says. In addition, “Catholic homilies are on the whole shorter than sermons or homilies of other groups,” he noted, meaning that priests have “considerably less time” to pass a message. message.

Mass, said Dennis Quinn, will be “by definition more structured than services from other groups. It reduces the possibility of that happening, like an election, ”he says.

“Even among Catholics who were least likely to speak about the three topics we look at in the study, less than half of congregations at least raised the election,” Quinn told Catholic News Service in an interview. telephone on July 7.

“Everything else aside, Americans were essentially inundated with information in 2020 about the issues that have dominated the airwaves. We can see here that the hours spent in the benches were no respite from this deluge of information, ”he said.

The 36-page study was fairly evenly split between results and methodology.

“Of the congregations included in this study for which the researchers were able to identify a religious tradition, 52% were Evangelical Protestants; 22% were major Protestants; 4% were Catholic; and 1% were historically black Protestant churches, ”the Pew study said.

“Catholic homilies are on the whole shorter than sermons or homilies from other groups,” he noted, meaning that priests have “much less time” to get a message across.

Quinn noted that they have been weighted to more closely reflect the presence of each faith group in the American population. “Because Catholic congregations are so much bigger,” he said, “there are a lot less. We might end up with a ton of evangelical Protestants (churches in study otherwise) because they are so much smaller.

Compared to the first 2019 sermon text survey, fewer 2020 homilies were reviewed. Quinn acknowledged that many places of worship were closed for months in the past year, but at the same time – because they lacked the capacity to deliver their message face to face – churches have published sermons in line more aggressively.

Pew included extracts from sermons of Catholics and other denominations without identifying who they belonged to.

A Catholic homily, delivered at the end of the period of inquiry, stated, in part: “Today we are reminded to be ready for anything in life, to be a people prepared not only to cope. to the pandemic and a wasted presidential election. election, but to remember that we must follow the path of these wise virgins. To not only have our own lights on, but to have extra oil with us just in case. Whether we like it or not, we must be ready to meet the Lord when He calls us home.

Another, who touched on racism, said: “The murder of George Floyd broke the terrible evil of individual and institutional racism which serves the mainstream culture so well. Whether blatantly or threateningly lurking beneath the surface, (journalist and author) Roxane Gay wrote that we black people live knowing that a hashtag is not a vaccine for white supremacy. . We live knowing that no one is coming to save us yet. The rest of the world longs to get back to normal. For black people, normalcy is the very thing we aspire to be free from. “

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