Executive Summary

Americans widely agree on racial equality as a general principle, but Americans differ by political affiliation and by race and ethnicity in their views on racism, its impacts, and how to address it, according to a Public Agenda/USA TODAY Hidden Common Ground survey of 2,788 adults fielded in February and March 2023.

Because most Americans identify as either religious, or spiritual, or both, one goal of this research is to understand similarities and differences in views on racism and racial justice between people of varying degrees of religiosity and spirituality. This research finds that the 18 percent of Americans who identify as largely spiritual are consistently more likely to believe that racism negatively impacts people of color and to favor various approaches to address it. By comparison, the 6 percent of Americans who identify as largely religious are less likely to believe that racism has significant impacts or to support taking actions to address racism. The 42 percent who identify as both religious and spiritual and the 35 percent who are neither religious nor spiritual are less consistent in their views on racism, its impacts, and how to address it.

This report also has a companion series of audio journals. You can find those here.

Key Findings in Brief

  • Americans agree on the principle of racial equality. But Democrats and Republicans differ in their views on racism, its impact on people of color, and the impact on white people of efforts to combat it. Differences of opinion by religiosity and spirituality also emerge in views on racism and its impacts.
  • Largely spiritual Americans as well as Democrats are especially supportive of actions to address racism and especially likely to see roles for various institutions in doing so. In a range of policy areas, Americans tend to favor equally distributing funding to all communities. But Democrats are somewhat more likely to favor providing additional funding to close gaps in communities of color.
  • Most Americans believe that religious and spiritual people, leaders, and communities should speak up about racism and advocate for policies to address it. Democrats are especially likely to believe so, as are largely spiritual people and people who are both religious and spiritual.