The dominant religions of the world possess some form of patriarchal focus be it male-centric leadership, doctrine written by men, and/or a phallocentric ideology (symbolic of male dominance). A study conducted by University of California and Duke University showed that in 2012 “one in five Americans claimed no religious preference—more than double the number reported in 1990” as stated in Futurity.org. The survey results are partially funded by the National Science Foundation, as part of the General Social Survey, “a highly cited biannual poll conducted by NORC. NORC is an independent research institute at the University of Chicago." Some interesting results discovered from this longitudinal study directly relate to issues centered on gender and race.
The study provided participants with the options of ‘Protestant,’ ‘Catholic,’ ‘Jewish,’ ‘some other religion,’ or ‘no religion’ as shown in the survey here. The survey showed that “men are more likely than women to claim ‘no religion’ (24 percent of men versus 16 percent of women).” This is an interesting discovery as Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism are predominately constructed around masculine identities; yet women are willing to adhere to its structure more than men. In terms of race, the study found that “more whites claimed ‘no religion’ (21 percent) compared to African Americans (17 percent) and Mexican Americans (14 percent),” as cited in Futurity.org. The social and cultural implications of these specific findings lead us to question the sustained faith of marginalized groups.
Is it really a surprise that those who are most empowered in modern society are less likely to search for support from a religious structure? Those who are more likely to experience social exclusion tend to immerse themselves in communities that tend to inherit traits of the dominant group in society. In this case, the active participants of religious groups are marginalized in society. The belief in a holy figure who does not share the same race or gender becomes a hindrance to the self-worth of marginalized entities. This prevents the advancement of an egalitarian structure on a social, economic, and political level as a hierarchical establishment prevails. Within a sociological framework, women and people of color tend to be drawn to these institutions because of their social exclusion from society and culture. They enter this arena with the hope of discovering belonging through a faith-based system, only to find themselves on the outside looking in.