A majority of white evangelical Protestants say it is very important to be Christian to be a true American, and about a third of all Americans also believe the same, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
Fifty-seven percent of white evangelicals make a strong connection between their nationality and Christianity, the survey shows, noting that the percentage drops down to 29 percent among white mainline Protestants, and to 27 percent among Catholics.
Among people who are unaffiliated with an organized religion, only 9 percent say it is very important for a person to be Christian in order to be truly American.
Overall, 32 percent of Americans say it is very important for a person to be a Christian in order to be considered truly American. And 31 percent believe one's religion is not at all important.
"The link between religion and nationality is of greatest consequence to those for whom religion plays a very important role in daily life," the survey notes. Fifty-one percent of those who say religion plays a very important role in their life say being a Christian is very important for being truly American. Among those who say religion for them is only somewhat important, not too important or not important at all, just 11 percent say a Christian identity is very important for being American.
Generations are also divided on the question, as 44 percent of those 50 and older say being a Christian is very important for being American, while only 18 percent of those under 35 say so.
Men and women also differ on Christianity's importance in American identity, with 36 percent of women saying it is very important, compared to 27 percent of men.
Along educational lines, those with a high school education or less are more than twice as likely as people with at least a college degree to say that it is very important that one is Christian in order to be truly American, the Pew survey shows.
Pew also asked residents of several other nations about the importance of religion in national identity.
In Greece, 54 percent believe it is very important to be Christian to be considered a true national. However, in Sweden, only 7 percent of respondents say one needs to be Christian to be a real Swede. In fact, 57 percent in Sweden, and also 57 percent in Spain, say religion it is not at all important to national identity.
In Australia, only 13 percent believe it is very important for a person to be a Christian in order to be truly Australian. And 15 percent of Canadians think being Christian is very important to national identity.