ReligionMain article: Religion in the United States
|Religion in the United States|
|other non-Christian religions||2.9%|
|Pew Research Center, 2008|
Religion in the United States has a high adherence level, compared to other developed countries, and diversity in beliefs. The First Amendment to the country's Constitution prevents the Federal government from making any "law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted this as preventing the government from having any authority in religion. A majority of Americans report that religion plays a "very important" role in their lives, a proportion unusual among developed nations, although similar to the other nations of the Americas. Many faiths have flourished in the United States, including both later imports spanning the country's multicultural immigrant heritage, as well as those founded within the country; these have led the United States to become the most religiously diverse country in the world.
The majority of Americans (76%) identify themselves as Christians, mostly within Protestant and Catholic denominations, accounting for 51% and 25% of the population respectively. Non-Christian religions (including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism), collectively make up about 4% to 5% of the adult population. Another 15% of the adult population identifies as having no religious belief or no religious affiliation. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, religious belief varies considerably across the country: 59% of Americans living in Western states (the "Unchurched Belt") report a belief in God, yet in the South (the "Bible Belt") the figure is as high as 86%.
Several of the original Thirteen Colonies were established by settlers who wished to practice their own religion without discrimination: the Massachusetts Bay Colony was established by English Puritans, Pennsylvania by Irish and English Quakers, Maryland by English and Irish Catholics, and Virginia by English Anglicans. Although some individual states retained established religious confessions well into the nineteenth century, the United States was the first nation to have no official state-endorsed religion. Modeling the provisions concerning religion within the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the framers of the Constitution rejected any religious test for office, and the First Amendment specifically denied the federal government any power to enact any law respecting either an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise, thus protecting any religious organization, institution, or denomination from government interference. The decision was mainly influenced by European Rationalist and Protestant ideals, but was also a consequence of the pragmatic concerns of minority religious groups and small states that did not want to be under the power or influence of a national religion that did not represent them.
First Baptist Church in America in Providence, Rhode Island
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. is the largest Catholic church in the United States.
The Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah is the largest temple of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Touro Synagogue, built in 1759 in Newport, Rhode Island; America's oldest surviving synagogue
Read more about this topic: Americans
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Famous quotes containing the word religion:
“All the sweetness of religion is conveyed to children by the hands of storytellers and image-makers. Without their fictions the truths of religion would for the multitude be neither intelligible nor even apprehensible; and the prophets would prophesy and the philosophers celebrate in vain. And nothing stands between the people and the fictions except the silly falsehood that the fictions are literal truths, and that there is nothing in religion but fiction.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)
“Christianity as an organized religion has not always had a harmonious relationship with the family. Unlike Judaism, it kept almost no rituals that took place in private homes. The esteem that monasticism and priestly celibacy enjoyed implied a denigration of marriage and parenthood.”
—Beatrice Gottlieb, U.S. historian. The Family in the Western World from the Black Death to the Industrial Age, ch. 12, Oxford University Press (1993)