Earlier this year, researchers at the Pew Research Center surveyed 1,003 adult Americans to determine what they believe helps distinguish someone as “truly American.” The results, predictably, were mixed, but some strong areas of agreement did congeal into loose consensus. The vast majority, 92%, stated that the ability to speak English is either “very important,” 70%, or “somewhat important,” 22%. Additionally, 84% of respondents said that sharing American customs and traditions, like 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, is either “very important,” 45%, or “somewhat important,” 39%. These are very strong consensus points, which give us a good starting point in affirming who we are as a people.
Another point of agreement seems to be around the issue of religious identification. The Pew Research Survey conducted in February of this year concluded that “Americans consider religion a more significant part of national identity than most other countries surveyed by Pew. The survey found 32 percent of Americans felt that it was very important to be a Christian to be considered truly American.” An additional 19% of those surveyed said that identifying as Christian was, at least, “somewhat important.” These numbers have sent liberals into orbit, but suggest something very encouraging about our country. As an observant Christian myself, I want to be clear that I do not support a religious test for citizenship or civic participation, and I respect people who believe differently than me. That being said, the very philosophical foundation of this Great Republic is Judeo-Christian.
The fact that over 51% of respondents believe that some sort of Christian affiliation is an essential part of American life is important, and speaks to the continuation of our founding ethos of equality before God in modern America. The Left has reviled the Judeo-Christian Ethic as incongruous with their liberal Utopianism, but it is the ethic on which our freedoms rest. In the words of Democratic President John F. Kennedy, “we believe that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the Hand of God.” We believe this still.
As we continue to debate the future of America’s immigration policy, the findings, above, provide us with some guideposts for policy formulation. Americans, across the spectrum, clearly want English to be spoken by new Americans who seek our shores, along with acceptance of commonly observed American customs and traditions. Additionally, while we should never establish a religious test for immigration, our government should also not prefer immigration from countries that do not share this nation’s clearly Judeo-Christian ethic. Our Constitution is not consistent with Sharia Law, for example, and newly sworn U.S. Citizens should not prefer it above the Constitution to which they swear allegiance.
America has always been, and shall always remain, a nation that welcomes immigrants. We have also always asked new immigrants to assimilate into one American culture, while still retaining customs from their nations of origin. Our policy should continue to encourage the concept coined on our currency: E. Pluribus Unum, “Out of Many, One.”