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.