Pew Research Center Data Shows Black Protestants Show Strongest Support for Paid Maternity Leave

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A look into Christian views on paid leave and how the church can help new parents.

Alongside arguments for maternity leave centered on health, wellbeing, and economics, a pro-life case for paid leave has slowly developed within the church.

Now, research shows that Christians are actually more likely than the average American to support paid parental leave—as long as they aren’t white.

The vast majority of black and Hispanic believers, at higher levels than any other demographic, say new moms and dads should be offered paid leave from work, according to the Pew Research Center.

Pew data provided to CT revealed that 90 percent of black Protestants—a number that includes evangelicals—and 85 percent of Hispanic Catholics think mothers should get paid leave. White evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants, meanwhile, showed lower levels of support than average, with just over three-quarters endorsing paid leave for moms.

“As a result of a history living with injustice, I imagine black Protestants—and likely black people in general—have a greater awareness that many working women cannot afford to take unpaid leave after giving birth or adopting a child,” said Patrice Gopo, a writer on race and parenting.

Gopo previously wrote for CT Women about the need to expand the “mommy wars” conversation:

When we talk about “motherhood,” we usually are talking about that small minority: primarily white women with a spouse and a certain level of financial means. Our limited scope ignores the reality that many women in the United States (and the world) are not in positions to make these choices. And for women of color able to make these choices, they may come to that position much differently than their white counterparts.

Overall, people still see moms as the biggest priority; more Americans back paid maternity leave, whether covered by employers or the government, than paid paternity leave. For dads, 76 percent of black Protestants and 73 percent of Hispanic Catholics supported paid leave, compared to 62 percent of white evangelicals and 64 percent of white mainliners, Pew found.

African Americans’ high levels of support for paid leave reflects to their tendency to feel “less supported” or “left behind” in a society still reeling from racial injustice, according to Lisa Robinson, a Christian blogger and anti-poverty advocate in the Dallas area. “It makes sense to me,” she said.

Robinson advised that churches should pay attention to these concerns and the lack of support many black families, sometimes providing “tangible support to families whether it be monetary or assisting with childcare needs.” “After all,” she said, “this is what the church is called to do anyway.”

For years, paid leave advocates have made the case that it’s better for moms, babies, and even businesses themselves when new parents can dedicate time to staying home in the early weeks.

“Black Protestants are perhaps more likely to recognize that in the absence of paid leave, this ability to be with a new child isn’t feasible for all,” Gopo said. “Making this option universally available may very well be another way of loving our neighbors as ourselves and caring for some of the youngest members of our society, issues always important to the church.”

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Kate Shellnutt

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