Although Christians had a big year in the headlines — from the Papal visit to fury over red coffee cups — a series of major studies revealed that Christianity’s influence is rapidly slipping away in America. The American opinion on Christianity is quickly changing, a major step in the U.S. becoming a more secular nation.
Less Americans now believe that the United States is a Christian nation, while 35 percent believe that the United States was and still is, while 45 percent believe that America was once a Christian nation but no longer is. In 2010, the two numbers were nearly reversed, with 42 percent thinking America was still Christian, and 37 believing it is no longer Christian. An additional 14 percent now believe America was never a Christian nation.
Concerns about Christian discrimination are now increasing, at least according to white Evangelical Protestants. Seventy percent agree that Christian discrimination is reaching the level of discrimination that other groups experience.
Around half of other Christians believe they are being discriminated against, while 34 percent of unaffiliated Christians see Christian discrimination. Overall, 49 percent of Americans think discrimination against Christians is reaching levels of discrimination seen by other groups.
With the Pope’s visit this year, the Catholic Church’s profile received a major boost, with 67 percent of Americans having a favorable view of Pope Francis, while 56 percent now have a favorable view of the church. Eighty percent of American Catholics think Pope Francis understands their needs and concerns, while only 60 percent think the same of American bishops.
Another major headline in America this year was the new legality of same-sex marriage. Christians are very divided on same sex marriage, with an even 46 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed. Most Christian groups, however, are generally opposed to “religious equality” laws that allow small businesses to refuse service to gay couples. Around six out of ten Christians oppose the laws, though 51 percent of Evangelical Christians are in favor of the laws.
Americans hold a double standard when it concerns religious violence. Seventy-five percent of Christians believe that Christians who commit violence are not true Christians, while only 50 percent think that violent Muslims are not real Muslims.