September 26, 2018

Black men are less religious than black women, but more religious than white women and men

People attending a 2017 service dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. pray and hold hands. (Reza/Getty Images)

This is one of an occasional series of posts on black Americans and religion.

Research has shown that men in the United States are generally less religious than women. And while this pattern holds true among black Americans – black women tend to be more religious than black men – black men are still a highly religious group. In fact, black men are not only more religious than white men, but they also tend to be more religious than white women, a Pew Research Center analysis shows. Black men are also more religious than Hispanic men and at least as religious as Hispanic women on a number of key indicators of religious observance.

Most black men are highly religious – but not as religious as black women

About seven-in-ten (69%) black men say religion is very important to them, compared with 80% of black women. But black men place more importance on religion than white women (55%) and Hispanic women (65%), according to the 2014 Religious Landscape Study.

The same dynamic holds true when it comes to belief in God. Roughly eight-in-ten (78%) black men say they believe in God with “absolute certainty,” a higher level of belief than is found among white women (67%) and Hispanic women (65%), though, again, lower than the level of belief seen among black women (86%).

The Center also uses a scale that combines responses to four questions – frequency of prayer, belief in God, attendance at religious services and importance of religion in their lives – to classify Americans’ levels of religious belief and practice as high, moderate or low.

On this scale, black men (70%) are less likely than black women (83%) to be categorized as highly religious. At the same time, they are more likely than white women (58%) and roughly as likely as Hispanic women (67%) to be in the highly religious category. They are also much more likely than Hispanic men (50%) and white men (44%) to be highly religious. (For more information on the way the index was compiled, see “How religious is your state?”)

Read the other posts in this series:

Topics: Religion and Society, Gender, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Race and Ethnicity

  1. is a research associate focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Jeff Diamant

    is a senior writer/editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.