A major polling organization found that Christians make up 95 percent of Americans who subscribe to a religious identity.
In a survey of over 327,000 American adults, Gallup found that 78 percent of Americans consider themselves Christian, while 15 percent did not subscribe to a religious identity. Of those adhering to a religious identity, Americans who considered themselves Christian made up 95 percent of respondents.
“This nation has a very strong Christian heritage,” said the Rev. Dr. C. K. Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, to The Christian Post.
“Through the years, as the nation grew, new waves of immigrants and the changing migratory patterns of the citizenry as a whole has resulted in the continued spread of Christianity even as other faiths were transplanted to these shores and began to take root.”
An intriguing find was that 15 percent of respondents did not have a religious identity and yet, according to another Gallup study, only 8 percent of Americans do not believe in God.
“This suggests that the lack of a religious identity is not in and of itself a sign of the total absence of religiosity,” explained Frank Newport of Gallup.
“The most important thing is for churches and their members to be aware of the messages we transmit all the time, and become intentional about reaching out in positive ways to individuals and communities around us,” said Robertson of the Episcopal Church.
“To those who defend their lack of involvement in a faith community because ‘there are so many hypocrites there,’ I always reply, ‘That may be, but there’s always room for one more!’”
Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, said that he believed this was an indicator that media exaggerates the presence of religious minorities in America.
“Much of the media create an exaggerated impression of how large other religious communities are in the U.S.” said Tooley.
“Four hundred years ago, our nation was first settled by Christian immigrants, and America has remained overwhelmingly Christian ever since.”
Another find by Gallup was that 81 percent of Americans believe that religion is either “very important” or “fairly important” in their lives. These findings show the contrast between the United States and traditionally Christian countries like England, where research recently report that a minority of the population consider faith an important part of their life.
Though Christianity remains the majority religion in the U.K., writes Martin Evans of the Telegraph, the number of Christians makes up a smaller percentage.
“The research also showed that Christians are less than half as likely to attend a place of worship as followers of other faiths,” Evans noted.
Both Robertson and Tooley agreed that the differing numbers between Western Europe and the United States came in part because of America’s separation of the institution of church and state.
“Part of the difference is that we are a younger nation, and one founded on principles of the separation of Church and State,” said Robertson.
“Identification of Christianity with state churches in Europe hurt the faith in Europe. The impact of the French Revolution and subsequent political rejections of faith was always greater in Europe than in the U.S.,” said Tooley.
The Gallup poll surveyed over 327,000 American adults from January to November of 2011. The findings were reported on Friday, Dec. 23.