As the U.S. has grown more
diverse, more Americans believe that being a Christian is a key aspect of being
“truly American,” researchers say.
Purdue University scholars
found that between 1996 and 2004, Americans who saw Christian identity as a “very
important” attribute of being American increased from 38 percent to 49 percent.
Scholars said the findings,
published in the fall issue of the journal Sociology of Religion, couldn’t be
definitively tied to a particular event but they suspect the 9/11 attacks and
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could have played a role.
“We suspect that these
events accentuated the connection between Christianity and American identity by
reinforcing boundaries against non-Christians and people of foreign origin,”
said Jeremy Brooks Straughn, co-author of the study.
“Although we can’t be
certain of the underlying causes, our data clearly show diverging attitudes
between American Christians and their non-Christian counterparts here in the
Researchers found that
non-Christians and those with no religious affiliation overwhelmingly rejected
a link between being Christian and being “truly American.”
The findings are based on an
analysis of data from the General Social Survey, collected by the National
Opinion Research Center, in which more than 1,000 respondents were queried in
1996 and 2004.
In a separate survey, Public
Religion Research Institute found that 42 percent believe “America has always
been and is currently a Christian nation.”
The survey, taken Sept. 1-14, was
based on a random sample of 3,013 adults.