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The US and religion: a complex relationship between state and church

A survey by the Pew Research Center shows that 25% of US protestants are in favour of state-church integration.

FUENTES Pew Research AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus WASHINGTON D.C. 09 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2021 18:50 h
The US Capitol. / Photo: [link]ElevenPhotographs[/link], Unsplash, CC0

The relationship between religion and the United States government has been an issue of debate for decades, and tensions over how the political management of the country fits in with views of religion remain today.

The Pew Research Center has recently published a survey that shows the complexity of the situation.

According to Pew, 39% of Americans are in favour of having religious symbols on public buildings, while 35% are not. On the other hand, 30% say public school teachers should be allowed to lead students in Christian prayers, a practice that the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional.

There are also 15% in favour of declaring the country a “Christian nation” and 13% who think that “the federal government should defend Christian values”.



Church-state separation

The data published by Pew finds that there is a majority of Americans (55%) who support separation of church and state. However, there are 14% who advocate for the integration .

Within this second group, white evangelicals are the ones who most support the integration (36%), well above the general average for all Protestant denominations (25%).

Atheists and agnostics are at the other extreme with 77% in favour of a strong separation between state and church, followed by Jews (58%) and those who do not identify with any religion (54%).

Furthermore, “support for separation of church and state is slightly higher among men than among women”, while " it is lower in the South than in other parts of the country”, adds Pew.

They also underline that there is a greater tendency to advocate a more active relationship between state and church among Republicans (27%) than among Democrats (13%).

“Perhaps not surprisingly, the survey finds that Christians are much more likely than Jewish or religiously unaffiliated Americans to express support for the integration of church and state, with White evangelical Protestants foremost among Christian subgroups in this area”, point out the Pew researches.


One in 20 Americans believe God favours their country

“In addition to the questions that make up the church-state issues scale, the survey included a question that asked Americans which of two statements comes closer to their own view: God favours the United States over all other countries, or God does not favor any one country over all the others”, explains Pew.

According to the data they collected, one in 20 Americans believe that God favours their country over all other nations.

Pew also points out that just 5% of the US population holds this worldview. The percentage rises to 14% when looking at the responses of those who do favour church-state integration, most of whom belong to the group known as 'white evangelicals'.




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