In studying what people know, here's one that's scratched its way to the top of the news pile: the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and how an attack on him is an attack on the black church. Here's one example of the sound bites that stirred up so much controversy.
I'm going to set aside the politics and talk instead about what white Americans know about the black church.
The answer? Not a helluva lot, I suspect. But, from what I've read and watched, I think most churchgoing white Americans know more about the black church than perhaps Wright does.
A number of black leaders and thinkers have said Wright misrepresents what the black church is, what it means, and especially they argue pastors do not stand in the pulpit spewing crackpot conspiracy theories about HIV or damning America. Wright's damage from his original comments sprayed across YouTube and cable news channels is made worse by his recent roadshow. Not politically. That's the problem of Obama and his handlers. I believe Wright has done significant damage to white America's impression of the traditional black church.
I wish I had survey data to back this up. There are some exit poll numbers from Pennsylvania that bring out some interesting issues about race, but none directly address impressions of "the black church." I hate that phrase, by the way, but Wright used it, so it's out there.
Clinton does better in a matchup against McCain than does Obama, among whites. This signals some movement, no doubt due to Wright.
But let's get away from the politics and back to what people know about the black church. No one has directly asked this ... yet. I hope to find it soon, because there has always been an unfortunately wary relationship between some predominately white churches and black churches. Wright's comments, being played over and over, will certainly among certain political conservatives lead to a very different view of "the black church" than perhaps they had a month ago. That view may have never been particularly negative, more warily neutral, but now I suspect what people know about the black church has changed, and not for the better. And that's too bad.