American Is A Christian Country

At least when it comes to demographics:


Max Fisher unpacks the above chart from a Pew study, which shows that the US is “lower than most Western European countries [in religious diversity] and 68th in the world overall”:

Maybe the most surprising thing here is that most of the US’s religious diversity comes not from religious minorities, who in total are only 5.3 percent of the population, but from the 16 percent of Americans who are unaffiliated. Part of that has to do with the fact that, for all of the US’s racial diversity, many of those racial minority groups tend to Christian: most African-Americans, certainly most Latinos, and a significant share of Asian-Americans.

Now compare the US to France and you’ll see two things: that France has almost twice as many unaffiliateds, as a share of … overall population, and eight times as many Muslims. This comparison also gets to a shortcoming in Pew’s metric, though. Something this data does not show is intra-Christian diversity: the US has lots of different Christian groups, whereas French Christians are overwhelmingly Catholic. Diversity between Catholics and Protestants alone has been hugely important for US religious history. While Americans may not be super-diverse along broader religious categories, that intra-Christian diversity has been a real challenge in the US, and one that the country has done an unusually good job of dealing with.

Emma Green connects these findings to another Pew study on religious violence, noting that “some of the least religiously diverse countries also experience some of the most religious violence”:

According to Pew’s recent analysis of religion-related social hostilities, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Somalia, and Israel top the list of countries with the most conflicts motivated by faith, which include “armed conflict or terrorism, mob or sectarian violence, harassment over attire for religious reasons, or other religion-related intimidation or abuse.” In terms of religious diversity, Afghanistan and Somalia are among the 10 least-diverse countries in the world, and Pakistan was also given a rating of “low” diversity. Israel and India are both considered only moderately diverse. …

This trend seems to be the most prevalent in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand have among the lowest levels of religious diversity and highest levels of religious hostilities in the world. Similarly, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen rank at the bottom of the global diversity ranking but at the top of the religious hostilities list.