Poll: We like our red-white-and-blue patriotism — mostly

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A man waves an American flag as he watches a July Fourth parade in the village of Barnstable, Massachusetts on July 4, 2014. Photo couretsy of REUTERS/Mike Segar

A man waves an American flag as he watches a July Fourth parade in the village of Barnstable, Massachusetts on July 4, 2014. Photo couretsy of REUTERS/Mike Segar

(RNS) We’re gung-ho for the idea that the U.S.A. has a special status with God, and we’re almost always proud of our nation.

But a new survey finds our flag-waving, All-American Fourth of July celebrations are also tempered by concerns that the nation isn’t the moral leader it once was, that Christians face discrimination here at home and that some folks aren’t “truly American.”

And although overall views shine bright red, white and blue, the level of our enthusiasm varies according to factors such as religion, age and race, according to the Public Religion Research Institute.

Percent who agree Americans/black Americans protesting unfair treatment by the government makes our country better. Graphic courtesy of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)

Percent who agree Americans/black Americans protesting unfair treatment by the government makes our country better. Graphic courtesy of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)

A PRRI survey released Tuesday (June 23) finds that nearly 2 in 3 Americans (62 percent) say God has granted America an exceptional role in human history. Not surprisingly, since the question presupposes a God, only 39 percent of people who don’t identify with any particular religion (the so-called “nones”) agree with that statement.

Still, “American exceptionalism is a deep and abiding belief that’s fundamental to the American DNA,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI research director.

Indeed, pride waves from this data like a flag: 63 percent overall say there was never a time they weren’t “proud to be an American.”

However, that enthusiasm doesn’t mean they’re not troubled on some points.

For example, the country is split over whether Christians (72 percent of U.S. adults) are now facing as much discrimination as other groups.

About half of those surveyed — 49 percent, strongly led by white evangelicals at 70 percent — say yes. The other half — 47 percent (including 59 percent of “nones”) say no.

“Christians feel like they are swimming against a cultural tide that’s rising against them,” said Cox.

He cited findings in other studies showing evangelical concerns over “everything from gay marriage to marijuana legalization, the rising numbers of ‘nones’ and the falling numbers of people who consider religion important.”

Overall, a majority (53 percent) say the country today is not setting “a good moral example for the rest of the world.”

They were not asked for examples, but Cox said each demographic, religious or political group “could point to things where they may think the U.S. has lost its way.”

Discrimination against Christians has become as big a problem as discrimination against other groups in America today. Graphic courtesy of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)

Discrimination against Christians has become as big a problem as discrimination against other groups in America today. Graphic courtesy of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)

While 69 percent say they see “a typical American” when they look in their mirror, this is more true for whites (77 percent) than for blacks (61 percent) or Hispanics (48 percent).

This dovetails with a very narrow vision of who is “truly American.” High on the list of very or somewhat important characteristics are people who:

  • Speak English: 89 percent say this is very or somewhat important.
  • Believe in God: 69 percent.
  • Were born in the U.S.: 58 percent.
  • Are Christian: 53 percent.

The survey found “profound generational differences” on the image of what constitutes a true American, said Cox.

Most seniors (66 percent) said to be “truly American” it was important to be Christian — perhaps recalling a culture that is slipping away, he said. But only 35 percent of millennials agreed.

Among Americans who believe the U.S. was once a Christian nation but is not anymore, most “still wish we were,” said Cox. This shift is a bad thing, said 61 percent. Only 29 percent favor this cultural change.

Cox said he is “continually shocked” by how divided America is by race and by how differently issues are perceived by non-Hispanic white Americans and by minorities.

The survey data – gathered before a white supremacist allegedly killed nine black people in a Charleston, S.C., church — may reflect recent months of protests over criminal justice and police killings. It was conducted June 10-14, among 1,007 adults in English and in Spanish.

PRRI found that nearly 2 in 3 Americans overall (63 percent) say “protesting unfair government treatment is always a good thing for the country.”

However, a lot of support “evaporates” when examined through the prism of race, Cox said.

According to the survey, 67 percent of white Americans agree that Americans protesting government mistreatment always leaves the country better off.

“But fewer than half (48 percent) of whites say the same when asked about black Americans speaking out against and protesting unfair treatment by the government,” the report says.

Among racial and ethnic minorities, including blacks and Hispanics, 56 percent agree that such protests benefit the country.

Even more (65 percent) agreed that when black Americans protest unfair treatment it makes the country better.

DG/MG END GROSSMAN

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  • Liz

    According to the most people in this survey, I am not a “true American” – I speak English, yes, but I was not born in the U.S., am not a Christian and definitely do not believe in God. I find that extremely ironic since this “un-American” works for the U.S. military ready to die for this country so these “true Americans” still have the freedom to judge others like me. Also let’s not forget that this “un-American” pays 38% income tax to be redistributed so these “true Americans” can benefit as society.

  • JB

    I find it amusing that Christians perpetuate this myth that they’re being persecuted and discriminated against when in reality people are finally just standing up in significant numbers and calling them on their BS. I get that they’re not accustomed to not getting their way and aren’t happy that the power is slipping from their fingers, but it’s not discrimination.

  • Fran

    I am not patriotic but very theocratic. I consider any person on the planet who works righteousness and is faithful to God to be acceptable to Him in all nations, and not just in the United States.

  • Fran

    Liz,

    My mom is still an “alien” from another country in Europe, and I was born in and still reside in the U.S., where she has been for 60 years, now 84!

    I try to be a good Christian and do believe in God, the Father of Jesus; but I would never consider joining the military anywhere because of my refusal to kill my fellowman (even if he is bad!!), what I consider a Christian duty.

    Too many people have died for the “god of war and/or country” which never brought peace and probably never will. Over one million American lives have been lost since the Revolutionary War and others, to the Afghanistan war still going on! We still don’t have “freedom” from corruption in government, judicial systems and economical systems here (the poor get poorer and the rich get richer).

    I pay my taxes as you do; sometimes we need new bridges! Just goes to show you we all have to stand up for “those things we believe in,” even if they are different from others!

  • Michael

    Considering nowhere in our Constitution is the word Christian, God, Jesus or Bible, how do they figure that?

  • Michael

    Ramen!

  • Based on this survey, Americans are completely ignorant of the fact
    that they live in the only Godless country – no other constitution in the world considers freedom from religion an intrinsic human right.

    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion…”

    Complying with a religious doctrine is a fundamental waste
    of hard won American freedom.

    There is nothing more un-American than saying “God bless America.”

    “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.”
    – James Madison

    letter to Wm. Bradford, April 1, 1774

    The founders knew religion was always up to no good.

  • @JB,

    “people are finally just standing up in significant numbers…”

    Exactly.
    And we have had enough of the false and contradictory claims that Jesus and Yahweh are somehow separate though contradictory ‘Authorities’.

    Religious claims have been clearly shown to be fundamentally depraved:

    “Kill homosexuals” – (Lev 20:13)
    “Genocide is a good solution to many problems” – (JER 13:14)(1 Samuel 15:3)
    “Save the virgins for RAPE” – (Num 31:18)
    “enslave people who surrender” – (Deut. 20:10)
    “Marry your rapist” – (Duet. 22:28)
    “Raping your neighbor’s wife is a good way to punish your neighbor” – (2 Sam 12:11)
    “Sell your daughter for sex money” – (Exodus 21:7)
    “Do some raping and stealing” – (Zech 14:1-2)

    We live and we die. That’s all.
    We should build a society which is free to celebrate beauty and truth
    without the dishonest baggage of religious ‘authorities’ who rely on contradictory primitive fables to hold the rest of us down!

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  • Real Horrorshow

    Would “any person on the planet who works righteousness and is faithful to God” include Islamic State?

  • Fran

    Real Horrorshow,

    Definitely NOT, IF they kill their fellowman and do not follow the direction of Jesus to love our fellowman; and even hate our enemies and pray for those persecuting us (Matt. 5:43,44).

    As prophecied by the prophet Isaiah before Jesus was born on earth, Jesus will soon, as King of God’s kingdom or heavenly government, “with righteousness judge the poor, reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he SLAY the WICKED (Isaiah 11:4).

    All wicked ones will be non-existent after their deaths, and only MEEK ones will inhabit the earth forever in true peace and security (Psalm
    37:10,11, 29).

  • Fran

    Michael,

    I don’t know how they figure that either since the Consitution is a man-made document; but the Bible is God’s Word, written by some 40 men inspired by Him, over 16 centuries, written by them for our benefit, guidance and instruction (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4).

    The Bible is definitely supreme over any of man’s documents, laws and rules on their own; since our Heavenly Father or Creator knows what is best for us humans, and imperfect man does not.

    In addition, the Bible explains our past (since the creation of our first parents and of the earth; our present (and why the entire world has gone completely mad; Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21); as well as our most marvelous future, living on a cleansed paradise earth forever (Rev. 21:3,4).

    What marvelous hope for the future does any of man’s documents and/or laws provide?

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  • Be Brave

    Michael,

    Neither are the words “secular or atheist.” As in “We are a secular or atheist nation.”

    The very “declaration of independence” that announces the Constitution, declares something interesting:

    The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

    IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

    The UNANIMOUS Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are CREATED equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR . . .

    Oops !!!

  • Be Brave

    Oh Mud Pie Man,

    The “Americans” in announcing their “declaration of independence” smash your assertions to the ground from which you are made of.

    IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

    “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,”

    “When in the Course of human events . . ., the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind . . .”

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . .”

    “The Constitution, Article VII: . . . done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD . . .” 1778 (NOT Lord Vader)

    “The signers were members of religious denominations at a rate that was significantly higher than average for the American Colonies…”

    For the list: http://www.freerepublic

  • dennis

    “. . . the Bible is God’s Word, written by some 40 men inspired by Him, over 16 centuries, written by them for our benefit, guidance and instruction (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4).”

    That you don’t recognize the irony and contradiction in this statement shows that the delusion is strong in your mental composition.

  • Fran

    The Bible, in whole or in part, has been translated into some 1,800 languages. Its circulation totals the billions, and it has been distributed the most of any books on earth.

    Bible prophecy explains the meaning of world conditions (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). It enables us to know the purpose of life (Gen. 1:27,28; Rom. 5:12; John 17:3; Psalm 37:10,11, 40:8).

    It is also filled with prophecies reflecting detailed knowledge of the future, something impossible for humans (Luke 19:41-44; 21:20,21, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome). Jesus prophecied this in 33 C.E. In 66 C.E., the Roman army had attacked, then withdrew for a period of time (allowing the Jews to flee to a safer place). In 70 C.E., Gen. Titus of Rome besieged the city, encircled it with a fence in 3 days, and after 5 months, Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple left in ruins (The Bible and Archaeology; 1962; J.A. Thompson, p. 299). It all happened just as Jesus foretold in advance.

  • dmj76

    Max
    Most of the people in our congress are Christian fundamentalists – get used to it. They think there is a good chance Jesus will return soon, and vote accordingly. Give us another 200 years, maybe things will change. You are banging your head against a stone wall. Your opponents would not understand you if they listened to you, which they are not doing.

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