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