Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Less Than A Third Of Americans Think Being A Christian Is Very Important To Being An American

As I've said before, PEW is a treasure trove for data geeks like me. A recent report on national identity offered up a surprising poll. When people were surveyed in several different Western countries on whether being a Christian is very important for being truly the nationality of the country, I was surprised to see that in Germany, among millennials 18-34, 0 percent think it's important. Zero. And in many other countries such as the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Spain, have percentages in the single digits in the same demographic. The West is secularizing faster than I expected. In another generation when today's older generation is gone, religion in many European countries will almost be non-existent, at least among the native population.

And what about the US — the traditional outlier of the secularization thesis? Well according to PEW, for all demographics, 32 percent of Americans think being a Christian is very important for being truly American. I actually thought it would be higher, like somewhere around 50 percent or so. And so this is good news to be. Less Americans think being a Christian is important to American identity than I thought it was.

I think this is also good for pluralism. As the US becomes more of a melting pot and more secular, religious identities will gradually decline as a factor for national identity, and that will allow non-Christians, including atheists, to be accepted as truly "American" — as they are, without having to feign a belief in the Christian god as they had in years past.

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