Patriotism is love of country.
Patriotism is what animates nations to secure their collective interests by fighting for them and defending against aggressors. That means a country’s patriotism — how many of its inhabitants have love of country — is critically important for its well being and survival.
But, as seen in the 2016 presidential election and their continuing vilification, liberals and Democrats have made patriotism and President Trump’s goal to “make America great again” dirty words by — erroneously and with malicious intent — equating patriotism with xenophobia (hatred of foreigners), blind uncritical self-pride, and with white racism.
A new nationwide research gives us a contemporary portrait of patriotism in America, and the results are disquieting, showing wide gaps in Americans’ patriotism by political party and ideology, race and ethnicity, religion (or the lack of); and by age. Republicans, conservatives, whites, Christians and older Americans are more patriotic than Democrats, liberals, non-whites, non-Christians and the young.
More disturbing still is the finding that those whose values and beliefs are being warred against (Christians, whites, and older Americans) are precisely those who are least likely to fight for them by identifying themselves as culture warriors.
The national survey was conducted by the American Culture and Faith Institute (ACFI). ACFI describes itself as a division of United in Purpose – Education, a non-partisan, not-for-profit research organization that regularly conducts scientific national surveys to gauge the sentiment and activity of politically conservative, spiritual active Christians in America.
In October and November of 2017, ACFI conducted a scientific, nationwide survey on Americans’ ideas about patriotism — of a randomly-selected sample of 1,000 or more adults, age 18 or older, whose demographic profile reflects that of the adult U.S. population. ACFI surveys are sometimes referred to as Barna surveys because George Barna is ACFI’s executive director.
Below are the survey’s findings:
(1) The good news is that a large majority (87%) of Americans consider themselves patriotic, with just 13% who say they are either “less” patriotic or not sure. Of the 87% of patriotic Americans:
- 23% are “extremely” patriotic.
- 36% are “very” patriotic.
- 28% are “somewhat” patriotic.
(2) Although a large majority of Americans consider themselves patriotic, most Americans sense a decline in patriotism in the U.S.:
- Only 13% believe patriotism is on the rise.
- More than 50% believe patriotism is waning.
- About one-quarter says it is stable.
- One-tenth did not know.
- Conservatives (62%) are far more likely than either moderates (49%) or liberals (36%) to perceive that Americans are becoming less patriotic.
(3) Ideological-partisan gap:
- 78% of Conservatives, 81% of Republicans describe themselves as either “extremely” or “very” patriotic.
- 57% of independents, 52% of moderates, 52% of Democrats, and 51% of liberals define themselves as at least “very patriotic.”
(4) Religious gap:
- 64% of Christians, 40% of non-religious (no faith), and 38% of non-Christian faiths rated themselves as extremely or very patriotic.
- Among Christians, Protestants are more patriotic than Catholics.
(5) Racial/ethnic gap:
- 65% of whites, 53% of Hispanics, and 44% of blacks consider themselves to be either extremely or very patriotic.
(6) Pride in being an American:
- Slightly less than half of Americans “completely” embrace the idea that they “feel proud to be an American.”
- 36% say that description is “mostly accurate.”
- Two-thirds of Republicans and conservatives say it is “completely accurate” to describe them as being proud to be American.
- In contrast, less than half of moderates, liberals, Democrats, and independents embrace that depiction.
(7) Age gap:
- 64% of adults 65 or older, but only 34% of those under 30 years of age rated above the norm on “American pride”.
(8) Trust in government:
- Only 8% of all Americans said they “always trust the government to do the right thing.”
- Liberals (12%) and Millennials (13%) are more trusting in government.
- Only 2% of those 65 or older trust government.
(9) Paradoxically, although most Americans have no trust that government will always do the right thing, most don’t want government to stay out of their lives:
- Only 29% say they want government to stay out of their life.
- One-third of conservatives, independents and Republicans, and only one-quarter of moderates, liberals, and Democrats want government to stay out of their life.
(10) What America means:
(11) Culture War — Although more than 7 out of 10 adults acknowledge that there is a culture war raging for the hearts, minds, and souls of Americans, relatively few people are sufficiently engaged in that battle to describe themselves as “culture warriors”:
- Liberals (22%) were more than twice as likely as conservatives (10%) and moderates (9%) to describe themselves as culture warriors.
- Slightly more Democrats (17%) than Republicans (13%) view themselves as a culture warrior.
- Those who are least likely to see themselves as a cultural warrior are whites, born again Christians, and people 50-plus, i.e., precisely those whose values and beliefs are being warred against.
Clearly disturbed by born again Christians being the least likely to identify themselves as cultural warriors, ACFI executive director George Barna said:
“Data from this and other recent surveys we have conducted point out that the Bible has limited personal influence on their thinking, that church leaders are loathe to equip people to think biblically about social and political issues, that growing numbers of people are rejecting traditional Christian values and beliefs, and that born again and conservative Christians are among the groups least likely to see themselves as ‘culture warriors.’ Clearly there is a desperate need for strategic leadership that can provide a compelling vision of what America can look like in the future, and to attract people to a viable long-term plan and process to turn that vision into reality.”
For data tables and additional commentary regarding the research about patriotism, including the views of people according to their political ideology, age, race, and faith, click here.