A new report from the Public Religion Research Institute contains the disturbing news that about two-thirds of Americans think that the United States has been specially favored by God. Even more disturbing, 69% think you can’t be “truly American” if you don’t believe in God.
A PRRI survey released Tuesday (June 23) finds that 2 out of 3 Americans (66 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.
So Americans, by a huge margin, are proudly ignorant and narcissistic (how else could we describe the idea that God favors them specifically but narcissism?). This can’t possibly be a surprise to anyone raised in this country.
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.
And people think that when we talk about atheists being treated as second class citizens, that’s just a rhetorical flourish. It isn’t. A huge majority of our fellow citizens don’t think we’re “truly American” if we don’t believe in God, for crying out loud.