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Jim Crow

For those of you who continue to see the best in humanity, allow me to step in like Maleficent on Princess Aurora’s royal unveiling with some less-than-stellar news.

A recent poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute revealed that while most of the population believes it is generally a bad idea for businesses to discriminate against its customers, one in 10 still find it perfectly okay based on religious grounds. As in, they believe it should be perfectly legal for small business owners – presumably of the White, Protestant sort – to refuse service to Blacks, Jews, gays and lesbians, atheists, and anyone else they believe belong in God’s outhouse.

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Morgan Whitaker notes over at MSNBC:

Asked if it should be legal to refuse to do business with members of the LGBT community on religious grounds, 16 percent said yes and 80 percent said no. Similarly, 15 percent said it should be legal to refuse service to atheists, with 81 percent saying it shouldn’t be. The polling found slightly less support for religious beliefs being sufficient to allow a small business owner to refuse to do business with Jewish people, 12 percent said yes and 85 percent said no. And when it came to African-Americans, 10 percent said they supported the legal right to refuse service and 87 percent said they did not. PRRI conducted the survey of more than 1,000 adults via telephone, including cell phone users, and results have a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

So I guess none of these folks want to two-step with me to R. Kelly’s “Religious Love,” huh? Darn.

I know, I know: Why focus on that small segment of the population? Because they’re the easiest to make fun of. Duh.

Even if they’re nothing more than a boil on the butt of decency, they still exist. More importantly, they are a reminder to select Black Christians that, once upon a time, it was perfectly acceptable to cite one’s religious beliefs as to why Black folks were inferior to Whites. Can I get a “Curse of Ham” shout, saints? No? Just asking.

So the next time any of you hear someone go on and on about abominations and don’t include Joe’s Crab Shack, remind them of this poll, the history of how Christianity has been used to oppress select minority groups, and highlight that not every White person smiles at Black people the way Joel Osteen smiles at every single one of God’s creations on Earth.

Meanwhile, the poll also found that 54 percent of Americans believe “the right of religious liberty is being threatened.” Well, there had to be something that united us even if it is rooted in a lack of knowledge about the way things actually work.


Three in 10 said, “Religion is being removed from public places.” Another 25 percent said it’s that “government is interfering with the ability of people to freely practice.” And 24 percent picked “Religious groups are trying to pass laws to force their beliefs on others.” Another 9 percent picked “the rights of smaller religious groups are not being protected” as their No. 1 concern.

So a few think the government is the ultimate heathen, others think it’s the zealots who need to be contained, and not surprisingly, very few show any concern about those who don’t belong to the dominant faith of the land. Sounds about right, eh?

Michael Arceneaux blogs at, tweets at @youngsinick, and praises Beyoncé’s name everywhere he goes.

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