Most Republicans say Christian nationalism is unconstitutional – but still support it
Our national survey included 2,091 participants, conducted May 6-16, 2022, with a margin of error of +/- 2.14%.
We began by asking participants if they believed that the Constitution would even allow the United States government to declare the United States a “Christian nation.” We found that 70% of Americans — including 57% Republicans and 81% Democrats — said the Constitution would not allow such a statement. (Indeed, the First Amendment states that Congress can neither establish nor prohibit the practice of any religion.)
We went on to ask, “Do you want to support or oppose the United States officially declaring the United States a Christian nation?” The conclusions were striking.
Overall, 62% of those polled said they opposed such a statement, including 83% Democrats and 39% Republicans. A total of 61% of Republicans supported declaring the United States a Christian nation. In other words, even if more than half of Republicans had previously said such a move would be unconstitutional, a majority of GOP voters would still support that statement.
Not surprisingly, much of the support for declaring the United States a Christian nation comes from Republicans who identify as evangelical or born-again Christians: 78% of this group support the move, compared to 48% of other Republicans. Among Democrats, a slight majority of those who identify as evangelical or born-again Christians also supported such a statement (52%), compared to just 8% of other Democrats.
Younger generations, including young Republicans, are less supportive of Christian nationalism
Previous research has shown that younger generations – Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) – are less likely to be affiliated with a religion and to trust to religious institutions. This also aligns with the results of our critical issues survey.
We found that members of younger generations are less likely than those of older generations to support the declaration of the United States as a Christian nation. Only around a quarter of Gen Y respondents (25%) and a third of Gen Z respondents (34%) agree with this statement. In contrast, a majority of respondents from the two oldest generations—the Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945) and Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) argue that the United States is declared a Christian nation ( 54% and 50%, respectively). ).
Over the generations, partisanship also plays a role in shaping attitudes towards Christian nationalism.
Most Republicans of all age groups support the designation of the United States as a Christian nation, but even more so among older generations. 71% of Silent Generation Republicans and 72% of Republican Baby Boomers would like to see the United States officially declared a Christian nation, compared to 33% of Silent Generation Democrats and 20% of Democratic Baby Boomers. Among the younger generations, we find that 51% of Millennial Republicans and 51% of Gen Z Republicans want the United States declared a Christian nation, compared to 10% of Millennial Democrats and 7% of Democrats in Generation Z.
With age, race can also play a role when it comes to sympathizing with Christian nationalism.
Our survey found that white grievances are strongly correlated with support for a Christian nation. White respondents who say members of their race have faced more discrimination than others are most likely to embrace a Christian America. About 59% of all Americans who say white people have been discriminated against much more in the past five years favor declaring the United States a Christian nation, compared to 38% of all Americans. White Republicans who said whites faced more discrimination also favored a Christian nation (65%) by a slightly higher percentage than all Republicans (63%).
The growing threat to American democracy was made abundantly clear during the January 6 insurrection, which, not coincidentally, featured prominent Christian nationalist imagery. Indeed, as our polls show, a sizeable number of Americans want to see the United States become a Christian nation, even though they recognize that the Constitution forbids such a designation. Prominent Republican politicians have seized on this sentiment and are openly campaigning on a message of Christian nationalism.
Our poll results demonstrate why this message may resonate, at least among the Republican Party’s most ardent, religious, and long-established base. However, this strategy can be short-sighted. As our results show, there is strong opposition to declaring the United States a Christian nation among younger Americans, and even younger Republicans. For this reason, the GOP may want to err on the side of caution or risk alienating rising generations.