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News Release | As July 4th Approaches, Eight-in-Ten Proud to Be American

[06.27.2013]

More than six-in-ten say God has granted America a special place in human history, believe the world would be better if more countries were like America

 

WASHINGTON – As the nation prepares to celebrate the July 4th holiday, a vast majority (82 percent) of Americans say they are generally proud to be an American, citing a range of reasons for their feelings of pride, a survey finds. Roughly less than one-third (31 percent) of Americans say there has ever been a time when they were not proud to be an American. The survey also finds that more than half of Americans (53 percent) plan to attend a July 4th celebration this year.

The new PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, finds that about eight-in-ten Americans report that they are extremely (51 percent) or very (31 percent) proud to be American. Republicans (68 percent) are more likely to report being extremely proud than Democrats (49 percent) or independents (47 percent), though majorities of all political groups say they are extremely or very proud.

“America’s military achievements and the willingness of Americans to serve their country in the military stand out as a source of pride for many Americans,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. “But among those who report ever feeling not proud to be an American, military actions and wars, particularly those in Vietnam and Iraq, were also the most frequently mentioned events.”

The most frequently cited reasons cited for being proud to be an American are military service and achievements (17 percent), the response to the September 11th terrorist attacks (14 percent), and freedom in American society (12 percent).

By contrast, the most frequently cited reasons for ever not being proud to be an American are wars such as Vietnam and Iraq (29 percent) and the treatment of minority groups or racism (14 percent).

“American patriotism is particularly evident in the way Americans compare themselves to the rest of the world,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI Research Director. “Most Americans believe that the world would be better off if America could export its values and way of life to other countries. However, strong religious divisions exist, with three-quarters of white evangelicals and Catholics embracing this notion, compared to less than half of religiously unaffiliated Americans.”

Americans hold strongly positive views about America’s role in history and in the world today. Nearly 8-in-10 (79 percent) say America has always been a force for good in the world, and almost two-thirds believe God has granted America a special role in human history (64 percent) and that the world would be much better off if more countries adopted America’s values and way of life (63 percent). Conservatives are more likely than liberals to believe the world would be better off if more countries adopted America’s values and way of life (74 percent vs. 52 percent).

Among the Findings:

Eight-in-ten Americans report that they are extremely (51 percent) or very (31 percent) proud to be American. Roughly 1-in-10 (12 percent) say they are moderately proud, and 4 percent say they are only a little proud or not proud.

  • Republicans (68 percent) are also more likely to report being extremely proud than Democrats (49 percent) or independents (47 percent), though majorities of all political groups say they are extremely or very proud.
  • White evangelicals also report stronger feelings of pride than other religious groups. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of white evangelicals say they are extremely proud to be American, compared to 56 percent of white mainline Protestants, 49 percent of minority Christians, 48 percent of Catholics, and 39 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans.
  • Nearly two-thirds of seniors (age 65 and over) report being extremely proud to be American, compared to 39 percent of younger adults (age 18 to 29).

Americans give a wide range of reasons for their feelings of pride about America. Roughly 1-in-5 (17 percent) say their military service or American military achievements — including the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden — have made them most proud to be American. Fourteen percent cite the response to the September 11th terrorist attacks, and 12 percent cite freedom in American society as things about which they feel most proud. Smaller numbers mention humanitarian assistance and disaster response (8 percent), personal experience or success (7 percent), the values of equality and opportunity (6 percent), Obama’s election (6 percent), or the moon landing (5 percent) as things that make them most proud to be an American.

  • Democrats and Republicans differ significantly in the reasons they provide for being proud to be an American. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to cite Obama’s election (15 percent vs. 1 percent) or the values of equality and opportunity (9 percent vs. 1 percent).
  • Republicans are more likely than Democrats to cite American symbols such as the Constitution or major political figures such as Ronald Reagan (9 percent vs. 0 percent).
  • Republicans and Democrats are about equally as likely to cite freedom as the thing that makes them most proud to be American (13 percent vs. 17 percent).

Roughly one-third (31 percent) of Americans say there has been a time when they were not proud to be an American.

  • Democrats (36 percent) and independents (30 percent) are more likely than Republicans (23 percent) to report that there was a time when they were not proud to be an American.

Americans who say there was a time when they were not proud to be American also cite a wide range of reasons.  The most frequently mentioned reasons for not being proud to be an American are the wars in Iraq and Vietnam (29 percent) and the treatment of minority groups or racism (14 percent). Roughly 1-in-10 Americans cite some aspect of American culture (e.g. gun violence, the acceptance of gay and lesbian rights) (11 percent), the election of Barack Obama (11 percent), the election of George W. Bush (10 percent), or the role of America in the world (9 percent) as reasons they do not feel proud to be an American.

A majority of Americans report they are very likely to engage in the following activities related to patriotism: thanking members of the military for their service (81 percent), singing the national anthem (69 percent), displaying an American flag at their home or on their car (59 percent), attending a July 4th celebration this year (53 percent), or making a special effort to buy American-made products (50 percent).

  • Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to report engaging in a range of patriotic activities, including singing the national anthem (83 percent of Republicans vs. 66 percent of Democrats), displaying an American flag at their home or car (76 percent of Republicans vs. 48 percent of Democrats), or making a special effort to buy American made products even if they cost more (55 percent of Republicans vs. 44 percent of Democrats).
  • Roughly 6-in-10 white evangelical Protestants (62 percent) and white mainline Protestants (57 percent) report that they are very likely to attend a July 4th celebration, compared to less than half of Catholics (49 percent) and the religiously unaffiliated (48 percent).
  • White Americans (66 percent) are more likely than Hispanic Americans (50 percent) or black Americans (40 percent) to report being very likely to display an American flag.

Americans hold largely positive views about America’s role in history and in the world today. Nearly 8-in-10 (79 percent) say America has always been a force for good in the world, and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believe God has granted America a special role in human history. More than 6-in-10 (63 percent) say if more countries adopted America’s values and way of life, the world would be much better off.

  • Conservatives are more likely than liberals to believe the world would be better off if more countries adopted America’s values and way of life (74 percent vs. 52 percent).
  • More than 8-in-10 white evangelicals agree that God has granted America a special role in human history, compared to 40 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans.
  • Roughly three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants (74 percent) and Catholics (76 percent) believe that the world would be better off if more countries adopted America’s values and way of life. Less than half (49 percent) of religiously unaffiliated Americans agree.

More than 7-in-10 Americans think of themselves as a “typical American,” while 1-in-4 (25 percent) say they are very different from a typical American. Americans who are white and older are more likely than others to think of themselves as a typical American.

The survey was designed and conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service. Results of the survey were based on bilingual (Spanish and English) RDD telephone interviews conducted between June 5, 2013 and June 9, 2013 by professional interviewers under the direction of Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS). Interviews were conducted among a random sample of 1,007 adults 18 years of age or older in the continental United States (402 respondents were interviewed on a cell phone). The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

Read the topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here.
View the accompanying graphic of the week here.
Read the Religion News Service story here.