Poll: Majority of Americans Believe God Has Granted US 'Special Role' in Human History

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People unfurl an American Flag at the 9/11 Memorial in New York, November 9, 2014. The flag ceremony was part of the 9/11 Memorial's Salute to Service, a five day tribute to veterans for Veterans Day. |

A new Public Religion Research Institute/Religion News Survey poll has found that while the majority of Americans believe that God has granted the U.S. a "special role" in human history, there's a large disagreement among age groups on whether being a Christian is important for national identity.

The survey found that six in 10, or 62 percent of respondents, believe in American exceptionalism, while 33 percent disagree. Support for such a view mostly came from conservatives, at 80 percent, while only 45 percent of liberals agreed.

The survey also asked Americans what characteristics they find important for U.S. national identity. While 77 percent of the 65+ age group said believing in God is very or somewhat important, only 52 percent of the 18-29 group agreed. When the question specifically asked whether being Christian is important, 66 percent of the 65+ group agreed, but only 35 percent of the 18-29 year-olds said the same.

There was also disagreement on whether being born in America is important for being truly American — 67 percent of the 65+ group said yes, only 45 percent of the 18-29 group said the same. Both age groups heavily agreed that being able to speak English is important, however, with 96 percent of the 65+ group affirming the statement, along with 81 percent of the 18-29 group.

Among denominations, 75 percent of white evangelical Protestants, 69 percent of non-white Protestants, 55 percent of Roman Catholics, and 54 percent of white mainline Protestants said that being Christian is important for American national identity. On the other hand of the scale, only 29 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans agreed with the statement.

The same question also drew division among political lines, with 69 percent of Republicans saying that being a Christian is an important part of being American, while only 46 percent of Democrats agreed.

The poll was conducted between June 10-14 from a random sample of 1,007 U.S. adults, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

A major Pew Research Center poll from May separately found that Christians are declining sharply in America in terms of population share, while the nones, or religiously unaffiliated, now make up a larger share than American Catholics.

Pew said that Christians in the country now stand at 70 percent, while people without a religious affiliation have increased to 22.8 percent.

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