White evangelicals have a stronger sense of pride in being an American than any other religious group, according to a new survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in partnership with Religion News Service.
More than two-thirds, or 68 percent, reported being extremely proud to be an American, compared to 56 percent of white mainline Protestants, 49 percent of minority Christians, 48 percent of Catholics, and 39 percent of non-religious Americans.
The new survey also found that political ties influence the level of pride among Americans. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans are extremely proud of being an American, compared to 49 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents. However, the majority of all political groups reported being extremely or very proud patriots.
"I'm white, a slightly conservative Republican and a Christian," said Christine Copeland, a graduate student at George Washington University. "I'd say I'm very patriotic but I don't think being in all three categories makes me anymore prouder than, say, an individual from another ethnic background, who lives in the U.S. and has assimilated to our culture and who is probably a Catholic Democrat."
Interestingly, most Americans also think that exporting American values to other countries would improve the world, the report found.
"American patriotism is particularly evident in the way Americans compare themselves to the rest of the world," said Daniel Cox, PRRI Research Director. "Most Americans believe that the world would be better off if America could export its values and way of life to other countries. However, strong religious divisions exist, with three-quarters of white evangelicals and Catholics embracing this notion, compared to less than half of religiously unaffiliated Americans."
In addition to 74 percent of evangelicals sharing this belief, 64 percent of them also agree that God has granted America a special role in human history, compared to 40 percent of religiously unaffiliated individuals. Furthermore, Americans in general frequently cited the U.S. armed forces (17 percent), the response to the September 11 terrorist attacks (14 percent), and freedom in American society (12 percent) as main reasons for being proud Americans.
"America's military achievements and the willingness of Americans to serve their country in the military stand out as a source of pride for many Americans," said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.
However, Jones says the survey also found Americans who didn't share the same patriotic sentiment. Thirty-six percent of Democrats and 20 percent independents reported that there was a time when they were not proud to be Americans compared to 23 percent of Republicans.
"Among those who report ever feeling not proud to be an American, military actions and wars, particularly those in Vietnam and Iraq, were also the most frequently mentioned events," he added.
Despite these figures, Americans share an overall sense of pride and Copeland thinks much of it is due to freedom.
"At some point, all Americans have disagreed with the politics, social and even moral issues of this country but patriotism should go beyond whether our needs are being met by the government. There's no other place where we are at liberty to express ourselves, worship as we please and make an above standard living than the U.S.," said Copeland.