college students, racial identity, racism, religiosity, white racial identity scale


The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of non-religiosity on white college students’ racial identities. Previous research on this topic is minimal and has focused on the impact of non-religiosity on attitudinal components of white racial identity. We expand this work using the White Racial Identity Scale, which measures white racial identity through a variety of attitudes, behaviors, and cultural preferences. We found that non-religious white students were more likely than religious white students to report racially progressive attitudes, behaviors, and cultural preferences, including less investment in American and ethnic practices, less trust in mainstream American institutions, and more openness to cross-racial contact. However, non-religiosity is not a perfectly linear pathway to more cosmopolitan white racial identities, as religious and non-religious white students reported similar levels of intimate cross-racial relationships and racially homogeneous musical preferences. Our work reveals areas of development for non-religious and religious white college students that could lead to more racial egalitarianism on college campuses.

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