In a timely survey released Wednesday afternoon, just as the United States is debating the merits of suspending immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, the Pew Research Center asked residents of numerous nations what it takes to truly belong in their countries. Americans were far more likely than residents of other countries included in the survey to say that religion was key to sharing in the national identity.
Thirty-two percent of Americans said one should be Christian to really be American, compared to just 13 percent of Australians, 15 percent of Canadians and 15 percent of Europeans who felt the same way about belonging in their homelands.
The same number of Americans — 32 percent — said that being born in the United States is key to being an American. More Americans — 45 percent — said that sharing “national customs and traditions” was important, and many more — 70 percent — said being an American meant speaking English.
Religion was the only question on which Americans were an outlier. On birth, language and customs, America fell in line with other industrialized nations.