Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This study was designed as an empirical investigation into attitudes of racial prejudice amongst Mississippi Methodist clergymen. Based on Durkheim's theories of the importance of surrounding cultural factors upon religious life, causal relationships for this target group were sought within the context of both regional (southern) and national cultural norms. Basic hypotheses were that clergy prejudice would vary directly with age, fundamentalism, and perception of prejudice of parishioners and community; and inversely with education, urban location of ministry, social actionist stance and agreement with denominational policy. It was also predicted that the mean prejudice score would decrease over the time period involved. The data used in the study were generated by two surveys, the first administered to all white Methodist clergy at the Mississippi Annual Conference of 1969, and the second presented to all Methodist clergy present at district conferences during the summer of 1980. Other data sources used were official financial records of the target conference and observations of the researchers. The statistical procedures in the study included factor analysis as a means of constructing the composit variables which were employed in the theoretical model. The relationships between these variables were then tested through the use of Pearsons r for zero order relationships, and of regression analysis. The financial and observational data were used as supportive material to elucidate and validate the results. Such efforts at triangulation enhance the reliability of the study. The financial data suggested that prejudice levels may have risen precipitiously between the two surveys with the advent of the integration of Mississippi's black and white conferences, with a subsequent lessening to the present level. The study concludes with a discussion of the limitations of the data and possible future implications.
Nelson, John Jules, "Religion and Racial Change: a Comparative Study of Clergy Attitudes Over Time." (1982). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 3765.