Religion no longer the glue for national identity – is anything?

Mar 18, 2017 by

from Theos:

A fascinating new study by the Pew Forum has revealed that there are few strong links between Christianity and national identity. Looking at 13 countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland Spain, Sweden the UK and the USA) it asked the question whether being Christian was important to truly being [the nationality in question]. Only in Greece did a majority think it was. In eight countries fewer than 20% believe it to be so.

The first thing to note is that this shouldn’t really come as a surprise. The 13 countries in question are among the most secular countries in the world. Even in the USA, long considered a religious outlier among developed countries, 23% have no religious affiliation. That’s a higher proportion than any Latin American, Middle Eastern or African country according to Pew data.

People’s perspective on what makes a national identity tend to reflect their own image (unsurprisingly – it would take a peculiar self-loathing to rule yourself out of your own national identity). We can see this in the data underpinning the Pew report. Looking at the breakdown in data from the USA reveals that, overall 32% of Americans think that being Christian is very important for being truly American. However, among those with no religion that number drops to just 11% and among people for whom “religion is very important personally” it jumps to 51%.

More interesting is the tentative conclusion we might be able to draw that, on the whole, religious people care more about collective senses of identity than the non-religious. For example, again looking at the data from the USA as you’d expect Christian Americans are more likely to think Christianity is important to American identity. Interestingly, though, they are also significantly more likely than the non-religious to think that the ability to speak English is important to being American (among the religiously unaffiliated only 51% believe that, while for White Evangelical Protestants it is 84% and, for Catholics, 77%).

Read here

See also: Language is the key to healing our society, by Mark Ellse, The Conservative Woman

Our island story, by Robert Peal, Spectator

Losing our religion – Signs of the times, By John Macleod, The Wee Flea


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