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More than eight in ten (83%) Americans say that it is important to publicly show support for the U.S. by doing things such as displaying the American flag; only 14% of the public disagree. Across political and religious spectrums, Americans embrace the importance of public demonstrations of patriotism.
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By 1793, he was imprisoned in France for not endorsing the execution of Louis XVI. During his imprisonment, he wrote and distributed the first part of what was to become his most famous work at the time, the anti-church text, (1794-96). He was freed in 1794 (narrowly escaping execution) thanks to the efforts of , then U.S. Minister to France. Paine remained in France until 1802 when he returned to America on an invitation from . Paine discovered that his contributions to the American Revolution had been all but eradicated due to his religious views. Derided by the public and abandoned by his friends, he died on June 8, 1809 at the age of 72 in New York City.
Most Americans do not believe America is a Christian nation today, even if many say it was in the past. About one-third (35%) of the public believe the U.S. was a Christian nation in the past and is still a Christian nation today; close to half (45%) say the U.S. was once a Christian nation but no longer remains so today; and 14% say the U.S. has never been a Christian nation. The number of Americans who believe the U.S. is a Christian nation has declined steadily over the past five years. In 2010, more than four in ten (42%) Americans said the U.S. has always been and is currently a Christian nation.
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With one notable exception, Democrats and Republicans largely agree on the attributes and experiences that are important to being American. Equal numbers of Democrats (62%) and Republicans (62%) say that being born in America is important to being truly American. Members of both political parties also believe in the importance of speaking the English language: more than eight in ten (84%) Democrats and more than nine in ten (93%) Republicans say speaking English is important. Republicans are more likely to say believing in God is an important part of being American, although a substantial majority of both parties say that it is (81% vs. 63%, respectively). Democrats and Republicans part ways in their views about the importance of Christian identity. Nearly seven in ten (69%) Republicans say that being a Christian is an important part of being American, while Democrats are more divided. Forty-six percent of Democrats say being a Christian is important, while just about as many (48%) say this is not an important part of being American.
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Younger and older Americans disagree sharply over what is most important to being American. Roughly two-thirds (66%) of seniors (age 65 and older) say that being a Christian is an important part of being American, while only about one-third (35%) of young adults (age 18-29) agree. There is also a substantial generational gap on the importance of being born in the U.S. Two-thirds (67%) of seniors say that being born in the U.S. is important, but fewer than half (45%) of younger Americans say the same. Older Americans are also more likely to say that believing in God is critical to being American. More than three-quarters (77%) of seniors say believing in God is important. Young adults are much more closely divided: 52% say that believing in God is an important part of being American, while nearly as many (45%) say this is not important. But both seniors and young adults agree on one thing: the importance of being able to speak English: 96% and 81%, respectively, say speaking English is an important part of being American.
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More than any other quality, Americans think that speaking English is an essential part of being American: roughly nine in ten (89%) Americans say that speaking English is important to being “truly” American, including roughly two-thirds (66%) who say it is very important. A strong majority (69%) of Americans also say that believing in God is an important component of being a true American. Americans also value native citizenship when considering what it takes to be an American: roughly six in ten (58%) say that being born in the U.S. is an important part of being American. Americans are more divided on the importance of being Christian: a majority (53%) of the public say that being a Christian is an important part of being truly American, while 43% say this is not too or not at all important.