The Opinionated American Public.

American religious affiliation:

70.6 percent: Christian in some way, shape, or form.

23 percent: None. I’m not sure that this tells us very much about their social views.

21 percent: Catholic.

15 percent: “mainstream” Protestants.

If 93.6 percent of Americans are Christians or “nones,” then the remaining 6.4 percent are Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and other faiths that don’t come to mind at the moment.

If 70.6 are Christian and 36 percent belong to one of the “mainstream” religions, then 34 percent belong to some other variant of Christianity. This suggests that something between 30 and 34 percent of Americans belong to non-mainstream Protestant churches. OK, there is a small bunch of Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I don’t know if Mormons get counted as “mainstream” Protestant. However, the majority probably belong to the free churches that dot the suburbs.[1] (Probably no role for Bing Crosby as the minister of one of these churches.) However, if there are 15 percent of Americans in “mainstream” Protestant churches and 30 percent in non-mainstream Protestant churches, then the non-mainstream Protestants would appear to be the mainstream and the mainstream Protestants would appear to be the non-mainstream. If you see what I mean. The media just haven’t caught up to this reality. It’s a “Christian” country and, within that, a “Protestant” country.

The decade and a half since 9/11 has been hard on American views of Islam. More than half (55 percent) of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam, while 21 percent have a favorable view. Almost a quarter of Americans aren’t sure.[2] The math says that a lot of the “favorables” and “not sures” must come from the 70.6 percent who self-identify as Christians.

The Republicans opposed gay marriage. How did that work out for them? The Republicans are opposed to illegal immigration.[3] A recent poll showed that 29 percent of Americans want to round up and ship home all the illegal immigrants now in the United States.   In contrast, 57 percent of Americans—essentially twice as many—want to let them stay and grant them the right to apply for citizenship. Only 11 percent favor granting the illegals “green cards” to stay in the United State, but barring them from pursuing citizenship.[4]

Savings patterns by income groups are a sort of opinion poll.[5] “How important is it to save for a rainy day or the monsoon of old age?” Eight percent of lower-income households save more than 15 percent of their income; Twenty-five percent of households earning between $50K and $75K save more than 15 percent of their income; and Seventeen percent of higher-income households save more than 15 percent of their income.

[1] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 22 May 2015, p. 15.

[2] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 24 April 2015, p. 17.

[3] “Poll Watch,” The Week, 22 May 2015, p. 15.

[4] Disclosure: this is my own position. The illegals came to the United States illegally. They can’t be allowed to crowd in ahead of people who took their turn. To do so would b to privilege those immigrants who have the easiest access to the United States across a land border over those who would have to cross the Pacific or the Atlantic. I admit that this is an argument that will resonate more in Britain than in France or Italy. On the other hand, I’m also in favor of open borders. Massive immigration of ambitious people would do the USA a lot of good. However, I’m also in favor of democracy and the rule of law. The fact that a lot of Republican businessmen want cheap labor and a lot of Democratic politicians imagine that Hispanics will vote Democratic doesn’t mean that the laws should just be ignored.

[5] The Week, 10 April 2015, p. 30.

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