Among Christian Nationalists, the belief that the United States is God’s favorite nation or that our country has some sort of special relationship with the deity is rife. It’s as if God had bestowed “most favored nation” status on America.
How many American churchgoers believe this? Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) yesterday issued a new report, “Religion and Congregation in a Time of Social and Political Upheaval,” which sheds light on this question.
God’s plan for America?
PRRI asked churchgoers if they agree with the statement “God intended America to be a new promised land where European Christians could create a society that could be an example to the rest of the world.” PRRI found that overall, 40% agree with this statement, and 55% disagree. But agreement was significantly higher among Republican churchgoers (54%) than independents (33%) and Democrats (37%) who are churchgoers.
A second PRRI question focuses on pluralism. The group asked churchgoers if they would agree with this statement: “The U.S. would benefit from having more elected leaders who follow religions other than Christianity or are not religious at all.”
The results are not especially encouraging. Among churchgoers, 32% agree, and 65% disagree. But again, Republican churchgoers disagree at a much higher rate (84%) than Democratic churchgoers (42%). Among independent churchgoers, 70% disagree.
These results lead to another question: How many Americans are churchgoers? PRRI reports that 40% of Americans “say they attend religious services, aside from weddings and funerals, at least a few times a year, including 7% who say they attend more than once a week, 16% who say they go once a week, 7% who go once or twice a month, and 13% who go a few times a year.”
But, interestingly, PRRI notes, most Americans “say they seldom (28%) or never (29%) attended religious services.”
One thing is clear: America’s religious demographics are shifting. As recently as the 1990s, about 90% of Americans said they were Christian. PRRI puts the current figure at 67%. Other pollsters have found a slightly lower number and have noted that among younger Americans, Christian affiliation is dropping.
A PRRI study from earlier this year found that while Christian Nationalism is popular in GOP circles, with more than half of Republicans embracing it, the ideology is viewed skeptically by most Americans. Only 10% openly adhere to the label Christian Nationalist, with another 19% being sympathetic to it. Americans United’s own polling shows that many more Americans support the separation of church and state than oppose it.
If you’ve ever wondered why Christian Nationalists can be so vociferous and so often seem to be lashing out, data like this provides a clue: They’ve had a glimpse of the future – and they don’t like what they see.