In most parts of America, "separate but equal" seems like the vestige of a bygone era. Segregated lunch counters, race-divided bathrooms, signs reading "whites only"—these are anachronisms of the 1960s, half a century into the country's past.
Except where they're not.
In an interesting new survey, the Public Religion Research Institute found that 10 percent of Americans believe business owners should be able to refuse to serve black people if they see that as a violation of their religious beliefs. This was pretty much the same across regions, too; the Northwest and the Midwest had slightly higher percentages than the South and the West. Gen X-ers, not old people, were most likely to agree—13 percent said they support the right to refuse. Men were slightly more likely to agree than women, and Catholics slightly more likely than Protestants. Hispanics were the biggest outlier by far: 18 percent agreed with the right to refuse service to blacks.
Ten percent of the population may not seem like a lot, but it points to how racism and segregation are still potent 50 years after the end of Jim Crow. In the past five decades since the peak of the civil-rights movement, some racial policies have changed—for example, workplace discrimination has been outlawed. That doesn't mean prejudice has disappeared; quite the opposite, actually. But this particular attitude, that outward racial discrimination is permissible because of a "religious belief," seems extreme and dated; these days, socially acceptable racism is a lot more subtle.