Measuring Christian nationalism in the US

The PRRI ((Public Religion Research Institute) conducts research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy. Along with the Brookings Institution, it recently carried out a survey to measure the extent that Christian nationalism has taken hold in the US.

To measure Christian nationalism, the PRRI/Brookings Christian Nationalism Survey included a battery of five questions about the relationship between Christianity, American identity, and the U.S. government. Respondents were asked whether they completely agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree, or completely disagree with each of the following statements:

  • The U.S. government should declare America a Christian nation.
  • U.S. laws should be based on Christian values.
  • If the U.S. moves away from our Christian foundations, we will not have a country anymore.
  • Being Christian is an important part of being truly American.
  • God has called Christians to exercise dominion over all areas of American society.

Not surprisingly, they found that the answers were highly correlated. Based on an individual’s score on all five questions, they were assigned a composite score and then placed in four categories. (The link gives the distribution of scores for each question.)

Christian Nationalism Adherents (Score 0.75-1): These Americans overwhelmingly either agree or completely agree with the statement in the scale. This group includes 10% of Americans.

Christian Nationalism Sympathizers (Score 0.5-0.74): A majority of these Americans agree with the statements in the scale but they are less likely than adherents to completely agree. This group includes 19% of Americans.

Christian Nationalism Skeptics (Score 0.01-0.49): A majority of these Americans disagree with the statements in the scale but are less likely than rejecters to completely disagree. This group includes 39% of Americans.

Christian Nationalism Rejecters (Score 0): These Americans completely disagree with all 5 statements in the scale. This group includes 29% of Americans.

They provide a graphic of the overall results.

Here are the scores of each category for each proposition.

Note that 100% of the people in the ‘rejecters’ category completely disagreed with all five propositions while ‘adherents’ did not agree 100% with any of them.

The survey results are likely to provide a ‘glass half full’/’glass half empty’ bifurcation of reactions. I myself was actually pleasantly surprised that two-thirds of people were either rejecters or skeptics of Christian nationalism. Christian nationalists are very vocal and that may be why I expected there to be a larger number of them. Others might view with alarm that almost three out of ten people were adherents or sympathizers of Christian nationalist ideas.

Not surprisingly, white evangelical Christians are most supportive of Christian nationalism. Given the inroads that the evangelical movement has made with Hispanic Catholics, I was a little surprised that more than three-quarters of them were either skeptics or rejecters.

I was also surprised that the number of Jewish and other non-Christian religious groups were not 100% in the rejecters camp. I wonder what is going on with those non-rejecters that they seem at least partly open to the idea of Christian nationalism.

While there were no significant gender or race differences, support for Christian nationalist ideas increased with age, with majorities below the age of 50 leaning towards rejecting them.

Also, “More than 7 in 10 Christian nationalism adherents (71%) have a favorable view of Trump, including 43% who hold very favorable views of him. A majority of Christian nationalism sympathizers also hold favorable views of Trump (57%), compared to 29% of skeptics, and 8% of rejecters.” The support that Trump, someone who routinely violates many of the Ten Commandments, has among so-called Christians is one of the great mysteries of our time.


  1. Mobius says

    I would point out that the way they defined “Rejecters” requires one to have picked “completely disagree” on every question. Therefore it is no surprise that they had 100% “completely disagree”. On the other hand, the “Adherents” did not have to pick “completely disagree” on every question.

    I came one tick away from “Rejecter”, as I answered “strongly disagree” on the “U.S. laws should be based on Christian values” question. I feel there is some small value in the Christian perspective, though not on every issue. I personally would consider myself a “Rejecter” even though I missed their definition.

  2. Allison says

    Note that 100% of the people in the ‘rejecters’ category completely disagreed with all five propositions while ‘adherents’ did not agree 100% with any of them.

    I think you mean:

    … ‘adherents’ did not disagree 100% with any of them.

  3. seachange says

    The chart and statistics are a lie. Rejecters are required to 100% but the Acceptors are not. This is a bad force diagram, Mano.

    The Nat C’s are not particularly ‘loud’ to me. What is loud is the lazy reporters and/or fake news (everything that they scream about the liberals they’ve been doing 10x as much so yes the fake news is very much real: it is part of the religious reich) that owns most of the media in this country. They are using social scientists to scientism-ically assert that their betrayal of the public trust isn’t. In particular we own our airwaves, they act as if they are overtonwindowing what’s out there. But this, like much of everything that they say including determiners and conjunctions, is a lie.

    Perhaps your personal experiences in Monterrey are different than mine in West Hollywood?

  4. robert79 says

    @3 “The chart and statistics are a lie. Rejecters are required to 100% but the Acceptors are not. ”

    While true that the definition is not symmetric, loosening the definition of ‘rejector’ would only result in even more people being classified a such. In this case I would say this is a choice which gives a more nuanced and balanced view of the data, especially since it’s made quite clear that the classification is not symmetric.

    Basically, they are saying that even if you bias the definition against the rejecters in favour of the adherents, the rejectors still win.

  5. Jean says

    Mobius @1: Which Christian perspective? And on which issues? I don’t know you or your perspective but I would suspect that what you call Christian perspective is simply some sort of humanistic view. Which means it’s not based on Christian values per se.

    Also all of these questions imply that if you accept or promote any of them, you’re against the first amendment of the US constitution. So like for religion, those so-called nationalists only respect what they want out of the constitution or their religion text and ignore what is inconvenient. And if they are on the supreme court, they obfuscate that with legalese and projected opinions on long dead people (so-called originalists).

  6. Tethys says

    Let’s just dispense with the idea that US policy should be subject to whatever rabidly racist or sexist white Christian Nationalists believe.

    The US was founded by people like the Puritans, who fled religious persecution from tyrant Kings who wanted divorces, and Popes who nobody elected at all.

    Thus Freedom of Religion (and from religion) is a founding concept and is codified in the Constitution. Anyone who utters the words ‘The US is a Christian nation.’ should be reminded of first grade American history and laughed at for their ignorant endorsement of Theocracy.

    The US is very deliberately a secular, democratic, republic according to its founding legal documents.

  7. Holms says

    29% full rejection is nice and all, but it would have been informative I think if they had had a ‘christian nationalism absolutist’ category to provide a direct comparison of 100% acceptance to 100% rejection numbers. Encouragingly, we can be certain that full acceptance is 6% of respondents at most.

  8. John Morales says


    Tethys, Popes are elected by the College of Cardinals.

    (There’s even a black smoke/white smoke tradition)

  9. Tethys says

    Catholic minutia is not relevant. The Puritans did not vote for Popes at all, and rejected Catholic authority completely.
    When a King started persecuting them because they refused his orders, Puritans told both Kings and Popes to gtfo, and sailed across an ocean to be rid of the parasites.

    That history of religious freedom is a Founding principal of the USA, along with the horror visited upon the Natives by the arrival of white Christians and their racism.

  10. John Morales says

    “Catholic minutia is not relevant.”

    Well, you wrote “Popes who nobody elected at all”.
    This is a factually incorrect claim.

    (PS That should be ‘principle’, not ‘principal’)

  11. Silentbob says

    Never thought I’d be saying this, but chigau is correct.

    The Puritans were 110% opposed to religious freedom. I mean, it’s sort of in the name. :-/

  12. Tethys says

    Yes, the Puritans were a rather horrible sect of fundamentalist fire and brimstone Xtians as were the Calvinists. I never claimed they were lovely progressive humans, but they did come to New England primarily for reasons of religious freedom.

    They fled because their practice of cruel and unusual punishments was being banned by various Kings and Popes. The Scarlett Letter is set in the Puritan Colony of Massachusetts.

    The people who wrote the principal into the Constitution of the US were also influenced by the policies of Cyrus the Great, whose writing was highly popular during the Enlightenment Era, despite him being dead for almost 2 thousand years.

    Cyrus’s legacy has been felt even as far away as Iceland, and colonial America. Many of the thinkers and rulers of Classical Antiquity as well as the Renaissance and Enlightenment era, and the forefathers of the United States of America sought inspiration from Cyrus the Great through works such as Cyropaedia. Thomas Jefferson, for example, owned two copies of Cyropaedia, one with parallel Greek and Latin translations on facing pages showing substantial Jefferson markings that signify the amount of influence the book has had on drafting the United States Declaration of Independence.

  13. John Morales says


    I never claimed they were lovely progressive humans, but they did come to New England primarily for reasons of religious freedom.

    They fled a Christian nation (Church of England) because they didn’t like how Papist the Church remained. They were all for Christian Dominionism, just their own version. That is, freedom to force everyone to follow their strictures.

    To this day, the term ‘puritanism’ evokes the concept of religious intolerance and strict conformance to their extreme religious beliefs.

    So, to adduce them as a reason why the USA was formed as a place of religious freedom seems odd.

  14. Tethys says

    Gee, whatever would I do without Mr Morales constantly correcting my spelling.

    Please take your complaint up with the people who designed my phone to automatically fill in words. It’s constantly changing than to then, and inserting incorrect apostrophes. Sometimes I notice and correct it, but I frequently miss words that are spelled correctly because the writing interface itself is just crappy.

  15. lanir says

    The main issue with all of those statements is if you pay attention to the phrasing, it’s not about whether aspects of government or culture are in agreement with christian values. Nobody thinks murder is good for a society in a general sense, for instance. But our laws against it aren’t based on christian values so much as independent but in agreement with christian values. The difference is whether your laws are based on things you and other people around you can make sense of or if they’re based on gossip from a bunch of ignorant goat herders who also liked to imagine stories about themselves being lost in the desert for decades some 2,500 years ago.

    The support that Trump, someone who routinely violates many of the Ten Commandments, has among so-called Christians is one of the great mysteries of our time.

    I think this is because a lot of people have a desire for the world to be simple. Trivially understandable. Some things just aren’t as important to them and they don’t want to expend any effort to understand that stuff. So they hear a few things, cherry pick the things that agree with what they want to think about it, and they’re done. The world works the way they want and they’re a wise and stable genius for not letting any of that other nonsense distract them. It’s a cheap thrill and it lets you pretend to be more informed than the experts, who are all fools, of course, because they aren’t in agreement with you. Most of these people seem to have enough self-awareness to pick topics that won’t impact them personally so they never really have to come face to face with the lies they’re telling themselves. They can just ignore the evidence.

    People who do this issue seem to catch varying degrees of it. Some have it bad like the January 6th crowd. Others have just enough to prop up their ego now and then but are otherwise functional members of society. And there’s a whole lot of space in between.

  16. Tethys says

    Quit kvetching and kibbutzim you schmuck.
    I’m capable of using multiple languages both extinct and modern, and have no use for your condescending attempts at proving your superiority based on auto spell changing principle to principal. The typo did not change the meaning of my comment.
    Both verruca and veruca are accepted Latin spelling, btw. wart, hill, protuberance.

    You only get pissy about it because you’ve been trained for literacy in English. Other languages aren’t so anal about spelling because they have gender and cases to differentiate between homonyms. Color colour colór.

  17. John Morales says

    Tethys, feeling combative is fine, but being right is better.

    Quit kvetching and kibbutzim you schmuck.

    Um, I corrected the same error, twice. You missed it, twice.
    Amusingly, “schmuck” comes from ‘penis’ — though you doubtless know that.
    As for kvetching, perhaps you should take your own advice.
    As for kibbutzim, being part of a community does not mean one can’t point out others’ errors.

    The typo did not change the meaning of my comment.

    Yeah, it did, whether or not it was a typographical error.
    Different words, different meanings.

    You only get pissy about it because you’ve been trained for literacy in English.

    Nah, my English schooling here in Oz was most deficient and kinda bullshit.
    Most of it I got myself, by reading at least one book a day for decades.
    (Voracious, I was)

    BTW, my native language is Spanish.
    Spanish Spanish, that is, not South American Spanish.

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