Christians More Patriotic, Survey Says


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Evangelical Christians are more patriotic than most other religious and non-religious groups in the US, a new survey shows.

More than two-thirds of white evangelicals are "extremely" proud to be American, according to the Public Religion Research Institute survey. This compares to 56 percent of white mainline Protestants who report feeling “extremely” proud, 49 percent of minority Christians, 48 percent of Catholics, and 39 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans.

Eighty-four percent of evangelicals believe God has "granted the US a special role in history," versus 40 percent of the religiously unaffiliated, the survey shows. About three-quarters of evangelicals and Catholics believe that the world "would be better off if more countries adopted America's values and way of life."

Roughly six in 10 white evangelical Protestants (62 percent) and white mainline Protestants (57 percent) report that they are very likely to attend a July 4th celebration, compared to less than half of Catholics (49 percent) and the religiously unaffiliated (48 percent).

(The survey was conducted at the beginning of June – before this week’s news that the US has been spying on its allies around the world, including bugging European Union offices in the US and Brussels!)

Today Americans celebrate the 4th of July 1776 – the day they declared independence from the tyranny of King George and taxation without representation. Fifteen years later Americans adopted the Constitution’s First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. Since then the relationship between religious groups and politics has continued to evolve.

Shifts over the last few decades now mean many of us conflate religiosity with patriotism, as seen in this survey.

Does this mean Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation between Church & State” is becoming more porous?

Or does it simply mean that evangelicals and patriots share many of the same traits - like a reputation for loudness?

Or maybe something more inherently Christ-like? Several years ago The Nation asked prominent people for their definitions of patriotism.

Novelist Carlos Fuentes said: “If patriotism is a value, it manifests itself quietly, in acts of care and solidarity, in love for things both great and minute in one’s heart, but without ever ceasing to discover the values one loves at home in other peoples and in other lands. But patriotism is more voice than silence, more criticism than irrational approval. You only criticize what you care for. Criticism and dissent can be a greater act of love than cheers and raised fists or stiff-armed salutes.”

Image: Volunteers hoist the American flag before the start of today's 4th of July Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia, the largest 10k in the US with 60,000 participants.

Read Robert Jacobson's reflections on Adventism and patriotism in a Spectrum post last year.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5370