Journal Article

America as a “Christian Nation”? Understanding Religious Boundaries of National Identity in the United States*

Jeremy Brooke Straughn and Scott L. Feld

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 71, issue 3, pages 280-306
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online June 2010 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srq045
America as a “Christian Nation”? Understanding Religious Boundaries of National Identity in the United States*

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Though predominantly Christian since the time of its founding, the United States has become more religiously diverse in recent decades. Yet since the mid-1990s, the proportion of Americans who see their country as a “Christian nation” has reportedly increased. Though initially paradoxical, these trends are less mysterious if the idea of a “Christian America” (CA) is understood, not as a description of religious demography, but as a discursive practice that seeks to align the symbolic boundaries of national belonging with the boundaries of the dominant faith community. Using data from the 1996 and 2004 General Social Survey, it is shown that the growing prevalence of CA was restricted to Americans of Christian faith, thereby widening an existing religious divide over the meaning of American identity.

Keywords: national identity; Christianity; symbolic boundaries; social change; USA

Journal Article.  10475 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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