Dr. Melissa Deckman is a Professor of Political Science at Washington College and a PRRI Affiliated Scholar. Her research interests center on the intersection of religion, women, and politics. She has written in the past about the Christian Right’s participation in school board politics. Her most recent work is as co-editor and contributor to Curriculum and the Culture Wars: Debating the Bible’s Place in Public Schools. PRRI sat down with Dr. Deckman to discuss the significance of the book.
“It’s Beautiful,” a Coca-Cola advertisement shown during the Super Bowl, encapsulates American ethnic and religious diversity and has prompted reactions ranging from appreciation to outrage on social media. Some see the ad—which includes a same-sex family, people of many religions, races and ethnicities, and a bilingual rendition of “America the Beautiful”—as an inspiring representation of America’s diversity. Some conservative commentators took exception to the ad viewing it as an attack on traditional American values, voicing resentment that it features a non-English version of “America the Beautiful.”
A recent PRRI survey shows that growing religious differences between seniors, America’s oldest adults, and Millennials, America’s youngest adults, are dramatic.
More than 7-in-10 (71%) seniors identify as some type of white Christian, including white evangelical Protestant (29%) white mainline Protestant (23%), or white Catholic (17%). In contrast, less than 3-in-10 (28%) of Millennials identify as white Christian (10% white evangelical Protestant, 9% white mainline Protestant, and 6% white Catholic). Seniors are about three times more likely than Millennials to identify as white Catholic (17% vs. 6%). Conversely, Hispanic Catholics make up a much larger proportion of Millennials (10%) than seniors (3%). Among Americans under the age of 30, the majority (56%) of Catholics are now Hispanic. Another important religious difference separating seniors and Millennials is the number of each who identify as religiously unaffiliated. Nearly one-third (31%) of Millennials identify as religiously unaffiliated, compared to roughly 1-in-10 (11%) seniors. Millennials (13%) are also about four times more likely than seniors (3%) to identify as atheist or agnostic.
Although there appears to be a lack of consensus on the appropriateness of the Coca-Cola advertisement, it is clear that the religious and ethnic landscape of America is changing to become increasingly more diverse.