Advertisement

Review of Religious Research

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 131–148 | Cite as

Perceptions of Science Education Among African American and White Evangelicals: A Texas Case Study

  • Elizabeth Korver-Glenn
  • Esther Chan
  • Elaine Howard Ecklund
Research Note

Abstract

Evangelicals have been highlighted at the intersections of religion, science, and education, yet little is known about how evangelicals perceive public science education and how these perceptions compare across racial lines. Here we analyze how African American and white evangelicals view science education through 40 in-depth interviews collected from two evangelical congregations in Texas. Without raising the topic of evolution, we find that African American leaders, white leaders, and white laity engaged in faith-based, evolution-contesting discourse, but African American laity rarely framed science education in faith-based ways. For them, science education was often linked to educational resources or was distant from their lived experiences. Our findings clarify disjuncture and overlap among African American and white evangelicals by exploring perceptions that challenge and affirm the public institution of science education in different ways. Our conclusion stresses the need to examine perceptions of science and education among religious subgroups differentiated along social and historical lines.

Keywords

Evangelicals Science Education Race 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Research for the Religious Understandings of Science Study was funded by the John Templeton Foundation, Grant JTF #38817, Elaine Howard Ecklund, PI. The authors would like to acknowledge Chris Scheitle, Brad Smith, Brandon Vaidyanathan, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this paper. Because our findings are based on a qualitative dataset that involves human subjects concerns, data are not able to be obtained by journal readers.

References

  1. Berkman, Michael, and Erik Plutzer. 2010. Evolution, creationism, and the battle to control America’s classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beyerlein, Kraig. 2004. Specifying the impact of conservative protestantism on educational attainment. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 43(4): 505–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Binder, Amy. 2002. Contentious curricula: Afrocentrism and creationism in American public schools. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Binder, Amy. 2007. Gathering intelligence on intelligent design: Where did it come from, where is it going, and how should progressives manage it? American Journal of Education 113(4): 549–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Birzer, Michael, and Richard Ellis. 2006. Debunking the myth that all is well in the home of Brown V. Topeka board of education: A study of perceived discrimination. Journal of Black Studies 36(6): 798–814.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blumenthal, Ralph. 2007. Official Leaves Post as Texas Prepares to Debate Science Education Standards. New York Times. Retrieved 26 August 2013 (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/03/us/03evolution.html?_r=0).
  7. Brown, R.Khari, and Ronald E. Brown. 2003. Faith and works: Church-based social capital resources and African American political activism. Social Forces 82(2): 617–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Corbie-Smith, G. 1999. The continuing legacy of the Tuskegee syphilis study: Considerations for clinical investigation. American Journal of the Medical Sciences 317(1): 5–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Darnell, Alfred, and Darren E. Sherkat. 1997. The impact of protestant fundamentalism on educational attainment. American Sociological Review 62: 306–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davies, Bronwyn, and Rom Harré. 1990. Positioning: The discursive production of selves. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior 20(1): 43–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deckman, Melissa M. 2002. Holy ABCs! The impact of religion on attitudes about education policies. Social Science Quarterly 83: 472–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ecklund, Elaine Howard. 2010. Science vs. religion: What scientists really think. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Ecklund, Elaine Howard, Z. Park Jerry, and Veliz Phil Todd. 2008. Secularization and religious change among elite scientists: A cross-cohort comparison. Social Forces 86(4): 1805–1840.Google Scholar
  14. Ellison, Christopher G., and Marc A. Musick. 1995. Conservative Protestantism and public opinion towards science. Review of Religious Research 36(3): 245–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Emerson, Michael O., and Christian Smith. 2000. Divided by faith: Evangelical religion and the problem of race in America. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Evans, John. 2002. Playing god? Human genetic engineering and the rationalization of public bioethical debate. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  17. Evans, John. 2011. Epistemological and moral conflict between religion and science. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 50(4): 707–727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Evans, John, and Michael Evans. 2008. Religion and science: Beyond the epistemological conflict narrative. Annual Review of Sociology 34: 87–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gamble, V.N. 1999. Race and the new genetics: A historical perspective. In The implications of genetics for health professionals, ed. M. Hager, 163–185. New York: Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.Google Scholar
  20. Glass, Jennifer, and Jerry Jacobs. 2005. Childhood religious conservatism and adult attainment among black and white women. Social Forces 84: 555–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hackett, Conrad D., and Michael Lindsay. 2008. Measuring evangelicalism: Consequences of different operationalization strategies. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 47: 499–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hartford Institute for Religion Research. 2013. Database of Megachurches in the U.S. http://hirr.hartsem.edu/megachurch/database.html. Accessed 31 January 2013.
  23. Hyra, Derek S. 2006. Racial uplift? Intra-racial class conflict and the economic revitalization of Harlem and Bronzeville. City & Community 5(1): 71–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jencks, Christopher, and Meredith Phillips. 1998. The black-white test score gap. Washington: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  25. Johnson, Clarence, and William Allan Kritsonis. 2006. The National Dilemma of African American Students: Disparities in mathematics achievement and instruction. National Forum of Applied Educational Research Journal 20(3): 1–7.Google Scholar
  26. Lincoln, C. Eric, and Lawrence H. Mamiya. 1990. The Black Church in the African American Experience. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Lubienski, Sarah Theule. 2002. A closer look at black–white mathematics gaps: Intersections of race and SED in NAEP achievement and instructional practices data. Journal of Negro Education 71(4): 269–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mamiya, Larry. 2006. River of struggle, river of freedom: Trends among black churches and black pastoral leadership. Pulpit and Pew Research on Pastoral Leadership. Retrieved 26 January 2013. http://pulpitandpew.org/sites/all/themes/pulpitandpew/files/DUP&PBlackTrendsWEBfinPB!.pdf.
  29. Marsden, George. 1991. Understanding evangelicalism and fundamentalism. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans.Google Scholar
  30. Mulkay, Michael. 1997. The embryo research debate: Science and the politics of reproduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Paul, Diane B. 1998. Controlling human heredity: 1865 to the present. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books.Google Scholar
  32. Peifer, Jared L., Elaine Howard Ecklund, and Cara Fullerton. 2014. How evangelicals from two Churches in the American Southwest frame their relationship with the environment. Review of Religious Research 56(3): 373–397.Google Scholar
  33. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2008. U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Retrieved 8 October 2012. http://religions.pewforum.org.
  34. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2009. A religious portrait of African Americans. Retrieved June 30, 2014. http://www.pewforum.org/2009/01/30/a-religious-portrait-of-african-americans/.
  35. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2010. Religion Among the Millennials. Retrieved February 7, 2013. http://www.pewforum.org/Age/Religion-Among-the-Millennials.aspx.
  36. Plutzer, Eric, and Michael Berkman. 2008. The polls-trends: Evolution, creationism, and the teaching of human origins in schools. Public Opinion Quarterly 72(3): 540–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Portraits of American Life Study. 2006. Results and Summaries. Retrieved June 30, 2014. http://www.thearda.com/pals/codebook/analysis/Var116.asp.
  38. Scheitle, Christopher P. 2011a. Religious and spiritual change in college: Assessing the effect of science education. Sociology of Education 84(2): 122–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Scheitle, Christopher P. 2011b. U.S. College Students’ perception of religion and science: Conflict, collaboration, or independence? A research note. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 50(1): 175–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Shelton, Jason E., and Michael O. Emerson. 2012. Blacks and Whites in Christian America: How racial discrimination shapes religious convictions. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Sherkat, Darren. 2011. Religion and scientific literacy in the United States. Social Science Quarterly 92(5): 1134–1150.Google Scholar
  42. Sherkat, Darren E., and Alfred Darnell. 1999. The effect of parents’ fundamentalism on children’s educational attainment: Examining differences by gender and children’s fundamentalism. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 38(1): 23–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Smidt, Corwin. 2013. American evangelicals today. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  44. Smith, Christian, Michael O. Emerson, Sally Gallagher, Paul Kennedy, and David Sikkink. 1998. American evangelicalism: Embattled and thriving. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  45. Steensland, Brian, Jerry Z. Park, Mark D. Regnerus, Lynn D. Robinson, W.Bradford Wilcox, and Robert D. Woodberry. 2000. The measure of American Religion: Toward improving the state of the art. Social Forces 79(1): 291–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Thomas, W.I., and D.S. Thomas. 1928. The child in America. Oxford: Knopf.Google Scholar
  47. Thumma, Scott. 2001. Megachurches Today 2000. Hartford Institute for Religion Research. Retrieved 31 January 2013. http://hirr.hartsem.edu/org/faith_megachurches_FACTsummary.html.
  48. United States Census Bureau. 2010. http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml. Accessed June 30, 2014.
  49. Woodberry, Robert D., Jerry Z. Park, Lyman A. Kellstedt, Mark D. Regnerus, and Brian Steensland. 2012. The measure of American religious traditions: Theoretical and measurement considerations. Social Forces 91(1): 65–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Religious Research Association, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Korver-Glenn
    • 1
  • Esther Chan
    • 2
  • Elaine Howard Ecklund
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology MS-28Rice UniversityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations