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Christian Nationalism, Racial Separatism, and Family Formation: Attitudes Toward Transracial Adoption as a Test Case

Abstract

Christian nationalism seeks the preservation or restoration of a supposed religio-national purity. We argue that, within the racialized social system of the United States, this idealized religio-national purity is inextricably linked with notions of ethno-racial purity. Focusing on interracial families as a violation of ethno-racial purity, we theorize that adherents to Christian nationalism will be less supportive of family formations in which ethno-racial purity is formally transgressed. We demonstrate this by examining the impact of Christian nationalism on Americans’ views toward transracial adoption (TRA). Americans’ attitudes toward TRA provide an interesting test case in that, unlike attitudes toward racial exogamy, TRA implies no biological or cultural race-mixing between social peers, but only a socio-legal guardianship across races. Opposition to TRA thus taps Americans’ attitudes about the “ideal” ethno-racial composition of families socially and legally, rather than their beliefs about the biological or cultural incompatibility of ethno-racial groups. Analyzing national survey data, we find that adherence to Christian nationalism is strongly and negatively associated with support for TRA, net of relevant controls. We demonstrate that the influence of Christian nationalism is robust and independent of respondents’ trust of other races and their religious commitment, both that are strongly and positively associated with support for TRA. Findings affirm that Christian nationalism implies ethno-racial separation and purity, and thus, we propose that a resurgence of Christian nationalist ideology in the public sphere may serve to reinforce racial boundaries and exclusion in other realms of American social life.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Although some parents who adopt transracially (sometimes domestically, but more often internationally) take steps to integrate their adopted child’s “ethnic culture” into their family lives (ethnic foods, music, art and images, clothes) (Jacobson 2008), these cultural elements are selectively appropriated at the adoptive parents’ discretion, with other cultural elements of the adopted child’s culture discarded, and thus, there is no “confrontation” of distinct cultures, but a selective (re)appropriation of the child’s ethnic culture (see Quiroz 2012).

  2. 2.

    Multivariate models were also run with three or four categories in the dependent variable, using both ordered logistic regression (OLR) and multinomial logistic regression (MLR). OLR estimates on the dependent variable did not satisfy the proportional odds assumption, and thus, OLR was not the optimal analytical procedure. Smaller Ns in the “always or almost always wrong” category, particularly for the religiously unaffiliated, limited the explanatory power of MLR analysis. Binary logistic regression was thus chosen as the most appropriate procedure, given the data.

  3. 3.

    Additional analyses also utilized a more fine-grained measure of race/ethnicity identifying Hispanic (non-white), African American (non-Hispanic), white (non-Hispanic), and other race/ethnicity. There were no significant differences between the groups on support of TRA net of all other effects. Therefore, we utilize this parsimonious measure to control for race/ethnicity in our final models.

  4. 4.

    Due to negative odds ratios being bounded between 0 and 1, we divide 1 by the odds ratio in order to calculate the percentage decrease. Thus, 1/0.94 = 1.06, or a 6 % decrease in odds.

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Correspondence to Samuel L. Perry.

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Perry, S.L., Whitehead, A.L. Christian Nationalism, Racial Separatism, and Family Formation: Attitudes Toward Transracial Adoption as a Test Case. Race Soc Probl 7, 123–134 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-015-9144-7

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Keywords

  • Transracial adoption
  • Interracial families
  • Religion
  • Nationalism
  • Racial attitudes
  • Racism
  • Prejudice