Police killings of African-American men: White Christians say isolated incidents, blacks see pattern

© Jim Young
More than 70 percent of white Christians believe that police killings of African-American men are isolated incidents, according to a new survey. A vast majority of blacks, however, believe that the attacks are part of a bigger trend.

The 2015 American Values survey ‒ entitled Anxiety, Nostalgia and Mistrust looked at racial inequality, discrimination and criminal justice among other topics. It was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

Among other questions, respondents were asked whether they believed that the recent killings of African-American men by police were isolated incidents.

A total of 65 percent of white Americans generally believed they were. The results were broken down by religious denominations, and showed that 72 percent of white evangelical Protestants, 73 percent of white mainline Protestants and 71 percent of white Catholics share that notion.

Meanwhile 80 percent of black Christians believed that police killings are part of a larger pattern.

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The survey also found that nearly 60 percent of Americans disagree that blacks and other minorities receive equal treatment to whites in the criminal justice system.

In 2013 less than half of those surveyed believed this.

Over half of Americans, regardless of their race, agreed that a black person is more likely than a white person to receive the death penalty for the same crime.

This figure increased among black Americans, where 82 percent believed this was the case, and among Hispanic Americans, where 60 percent thought this to be true.

In contrast, 45 percent of white Americans believed a black person was more likely than a white person to receive the death penalty for the same offense.

These attitudes are virtually unchanged from 1999, according to the researchers.

The survey was conducted between September 11 and October 4, 2015 with individuals among a random sample of 2,695 adults living in the US, including all 50 states and the District of Columbia.