Study: More link Christian faith to being American

October 20, 2010

(RNS) 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 United States."

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.