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Christian Nationalism may be linked to misunderstanding U.S. history

Those who identify with so-called Christian Nationalism are likely ignorant of the role religion played in American History, new research suggests.

The research, published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, was based on a Public and Discourse Survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,378 American Adults. The survey included five true-or-false statements about American political history and the role religion played in it.

Researcher Samuel L. Perry told PsyPost that when looking at science questions, conservative Christians don’t score lower on questions that they don’t feel challenge their religion, but will chose the answer that goes against scientific consensus if it challenges their religious ideology.

“Related to this, we’ve found that Christian nationalist ideology is a powerful predictor of this kind of response patterning on science quizzes. Americans who more strongly affirm Christian nationalism score roughly the same as other Americans on uncontested science questions, but Christian nationalism is the strongest predictor that Americans get the contested questions wrong.”




The participants were also asked the extent to which they agreed with statements such as “The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation” and “The success of the United States is part of God’s plan” — which the researchers used as a proxy for support for Christian nationalism.


Perry and his colleagues found that people who scored lower on the brief American history quiz tended to be more supportive of Christian nationalism. Interestingly, when they removed “I don’t know” responses from their analysis, the researchers found that the negative relationship between historical knowledge and Christian nationalism strengthened, suggesting that support for Christian nationalism is associated with “intentionally affirming factually incorrect statements.”


“We found that even after we accounted for Americans’ religious, political, and demographic characteristics, those who more strongly affirmed Christian nationalism were more likely to belief [sic] false things about religion’s place in American history,” Perry told PsyPost. “They were more likely to believe, for example, that the US Constitution references our country’s obligations to God several times (it does not), that the First Amendment says Congress could make laws privileging Christianity (it does not), or that the Supreme Court made it illegal to pray or read your Bible in public schools (it did not).”

Perry said researchers were not able to identify if holding to factually incorrect history was primarily because of ideology or because those polled had been given incorrect information.

“There’s actually a fairly robust ‘Christian nationalism industrial complex’ that supplies Study Bibles, Bible studies, video series, sermon materials, and scores of books dedicated to teaching this history of America as a ‘Christian nation.’”


“It could be that Americans who score higher on Christian nationalism have assimilated such material and are answering accordingly.

Read the entire story here.


Photo by Dan Russo on Unsplash

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