What It Takes to be a ‘Real’ American

Posted July 10th, 2015 at 6:00 pm (UTC-4)

Equestrian drill team, the California Cowgirls, at the Draft Horse Classic in Grass Valley, California in September 2014. (Photo by Flickr user Anita Ritenour  under Wikipedia Commons license)

Equestrian drill team, the California Cowgirls, at the Draft Horse Classic in Grass Valley, California in September 2014. (Photo by Flickr user Anita Ritenour under Wikipedia Commons license)

More than anything, an overwhelming majority of Americans — 89 percent — think speaking English is critical to being “truly” American.

“I think it comes down to perceived cultural threat that immigrants present to changing American culture,” said Dan Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted a survey on the subject. “People really worry that immigrants will sort of somehow change what it means to be American…but that’s been true with every wave of immigrants we’ve seen.”

Chart-2-PRRI-Important-American-English-God-Born-America-Christian-640x403Fifty-eight percent believe you also have to be born in the United States to be “truly” American.

There are 41 million foreign-born individuals living in the United States. They make up 12.9 percent of the overall population and the majority are from Latin America and Asia.

Belief in God is also important to being a “real” American, according to the survey.

Sixty-nine percent of people said belief in a higher being is a quality that makes you truly American. More than 1 in 10 Americans — 12 percent — said they don’t believe in a universal being in a May 2014 Gallup Poll.

The vast majority of Americans, more than 70 percent, consider themselves to be Christians. More than half of the people surveyed think being a Christian is key to being “truly” American. Yet, more than 1 in 5 Americans — 22.8 percent — do not identify as Christians, according to the Pew Research Center.

Of course, the answer to the question of what is means to be a “true American” depends on who you ask. Young Americans — people aged 18 to 29 — are far less likely than Americans over 65, to think that you have to believe in God or be a Christian to be truly American.

“Younger people have a dramatically different idea of what it means to be American than older folks,” Cox said. “And it comes from their personal experience. They’re living in a very different cultural moment, where they’re exposed to different religious ideas and people from different backgrounds.”

Cox believes this view could impact how this new generation governs in the future.

“By and large, every president, from the first days to now, has publicly identified as Christian and I think that’s becoming less important,” he said. “Non-belief, or being part of a non-Christian community, I think that’s going to become increasingly acceptable.”

Cox says younger Americans are not only more accepting of diversity, but actually embrace these differences, seeing them as a point of pride that contributes to America’s strength.

6 responses to “What It Takes to be a ‘Real’ American”

  1. P8Triot says:

    From a statistical point of view, I think you also need to account for geography. Depending on where you are in the US, there are very different views on religion and what it means to be American. In areas where immigrants are numerous like in bigger cities, non English speaking people are more accepted as an equal or as “An American”. Whereas if you drop a foreign language speaking family in the middle of a rural America area where English is the majority, you are likely to feel a bit ostracized no matter what your legal status. Also in the Southern areas of the US, people are more religious and primarily Christian so it could be harder to fit in and feel equal if you have strong Muslim or Hindu beliefs as religious people in general seem to be far less accepting of other cultures and beliefs they will undoubtedly deem you as not a true American. This attitude is sad really. As a white Male from the North in America, I am very tired of the race and religion wars. I and many people I speak with just want people to get along and get on with life, to be left alone and to pursue our own happiness and success. I think when you look deep into the hearts of most Americans, this is what everyone wants and it is only when people feel that these rights are being threatened that you find hostility and prejudice. As to your statistics, I too often identify as being Christian as do many people for fear of being looked down upon in society. Out of the 5 close friends that I have they all publically say they are Christian for fear of ignorant religious people labeling them as a lesser person or evil, but we at least all are agnostic or atheist. The surveys In this country are VerY skewed… if you wanted a true survey result, you should have an anonymous survey that specifically asked if the person really believes the GOD and dogma part or if they just believe in the values. The values of the Christian teachings are what people Identify as being American, thus the religion tie-in. Trust me, if you are even a Sun worshiper, and you work hard and have a strong American value system, you keep to yourself and don’t broadcast that you worship the Sun or Rocks or whatever, you will fit in fine in America. America is truly about American core values… not about who you worship, what language you speak, where you were born or anything other than do you truly believe you are an American and are you a plus to society or a Minus to the greater good. Do not come here and get on welfare and sit around all day sucking off of our tax dollars, getting free health care and food etc. and expect to be widely accepted as a true American. While many of us do believe in charity, the American “Can do/and will do” ethic and value system is what defines us as Americans and is what makes our country great.

  2. Angel Knightley says:

    To be a real American is to be a western!!!!!!!!!!! To luv freedom and democracy!

  3. Yiro says:

    In my opinion, it is the mood the American culture creates that defines Americanism.

  4. Bunty Grace says:

    Can a good Muslim be a good American?
    That question was forwarded to a person that worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years.
    The following is his reply:
    Theologically – no. Because his allegiance is to Allah, the moon God of Arabia.
    Religiously – no. Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah except Islam (Quran, 2:256)
    Scripturally – no. Because his allegiance is to the five pillars of Islam and the Quran (Koran).
    Geographically – no. Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day.
    Socially – no. Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews. Quran 5:51
    Politically – no. Because he must submit to the mullah (spiritual leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and Destruction of America, the great Satan.
    Domestically – no. Because he is instructed to marry four women and beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Quran 4:34).
    Intellectually – no. Because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt.
    Philosophically – no. Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran do not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist. Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic.
    Therefore after much study and deliberation… perhaps we should be very suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. They obviously cannot be both “good” Muslims and good Americans.

    • P8triotNH says:

      All this is probably true, but the same can be said about many teachings of Christian faith if you take to heart every passage in the old testament. Being a moderate, not following dogma, believing in your own path can apply to any faith. I believe that someday people will wake up to the fact that religion can be a place of learning and comfort and not to be followed like a robot reading lines of code. Question everything and learn as much as possible, apply this to life and make your own conclusions will be the religion of the future. Many books and yes even many Muslim teachings have very good lessons that can help people. It is only we shut our eyes and pretend that what we see and know to be true is not, in this religion becomes a problem to the individual, to the community, to the world. Many do think of their religion as a baseline of concepts and of lessons to help them in life. I believe that many people of all religions also feel this way, Muslims as well. While specifically I see that they are far less forgiving in not following dogma exactly, I believe that this is a temporary problem and that all religions will slowly become less fanatical and extreme. Daily life if daily proof that reality is fundamental and unwavering in it’s consistency you cannot kill reality and I am pretty sure that no deity will ever show their face on our planet. Time will wear the radical nature down till there is nothing left. For now we do have to deal with the present and try to help those in the world that have a root in the Muslim faith (based on their parents or where they were born) and have human / American / moderate values emerging in their minds to overcome their struggle to be a moderate in a world that right now is less than forgiving in accepting these types of views. They are many I am sure of it. But they are also facing a tidal wave of opposition that is hell bent on keeping them suppressed.

      Remember the days of the inquisition, or the days where people could be killed for being a heretic or not believing in God. Today a moderate thinking Muslin is facing the same thing and few are reaching out to them to help. Labeling all Muslims today as incompatible with Americans is like saying the same about Christians a thousand years ago. We need to stick to our values and principals and seek those that do wake up and that do see the world as it is. Labels are always a bad idea when it comes to people. We all have an amazing thing called a brain and it has the amazing ability to change, to better itself and to become more than the sum of what it sees or hears. Don’t give up on the humanity of anyone. I may be a Patriot of the United States… and I may not have any strong religious beliefs, but I have a very strong belief in humanity and the power of learning. In this information age, we are at the pivotal point needed to change minds and promote a moderate mentality. When we work hard at separating ourselves, we are fundamentally becoming part of the problem not the solution. Be accepting, be wary of those that are not open to enlightenment, but also have faith in humanity as a whole. Do the right thing every day even if at the time it is the hard thing. Words to live by, and I try to. I do not want a world where views are suppressed. I believe in time all extremist views will be ousted for what they are, misinformed and based in fantasy to foster an agenda. We have to foster the good and start the discussions, vet out all evil for what it is. While it is easier to paint the problems over and to plug our ears and pretend that the core of the problem does not exist and or spread hate and distrust to all of them, that my posting partner is perpetuating those ideas forever. You Sir are part of the problem. Be part of the solution, and be vigilant in your quest for knowledge in reality and truth.

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