Poll: Vast majority of Americans still self-identify as Christians

In advance of Christmas, Gallup released the results of a year’s worth of interviews of Americans about their attitudes toward religion. The results aren’t necessarily surprising, but they do make you wonder: How exactly is it that the phrase “Merry Christmas” has been branded offensive? From the poll summary:

The United States remains a predominantly Christian nation, with 78% of all adults identifying with a Christian faith, and more than 9 in 10 of those who have a religious identity identifying as Christians. [M]ore than 9 in 10 Americans say they believe in God, and … 8 in 10 say religion is a very or fairly important part of their lives.

Then again, perhaps the politicization of Christmas — the suspicion of public displays of religiosity, the secularization of sacred expressions — comes from the majority’s attempt to accommodate the vocal minority. And while a majority of Americans still identify as Christians, the percentage of Americans who say they have no formal religious identity is still on the rise. A total of 15 percent say they don’t identify with any religion at all, what Gallup calls “a continuation of a dramatic change from 50 and 60 years ago, when almost all Americans identified with a particular religion.”

That trend might be discouraging — but the overarching message of this poll is not. Most folks still see this season — and, indeed, their lives — as about something more than even politics or family or fancy gift-giving. My hope and prayer for all of you is that this might be a time to reconnect with that something more — a chance to remember that we exist in relationship not only with each other, but also with our Creator — and, for Christians, our Savior.