Patterns of Religious Affiliation

President Barack Obama places his hand over his heart during a swearing in of active duty service members at a naturalization ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 23, 2010.
(AP Photo/J. David Ake)

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden listens to Tzipi Livni, not seen, Israel’s parliamentary opposition leader and chair of the Kadima Party, during their meeting in Jerusalem, March 9, 2010.
(AP Photo/Jim Hollander, Pool)

Before you can begin to analyze the relationships between politics and religion in the United States,  must first explore what is meant by “religious affiliation,” and also have a foundational understanding of the existing patterns in the United States.

Analyze  the role and relationships of religion and politics, which are both deeply personal.

The Pew Research Center studies religion and public life in the United States. This center is a leading source of research on this topic, and it is recommended that you become familiar with the resources offered.

Visit the Religious Landscape Study and peruse the information. You will note that the headline for the report is, “The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.” As you are looking through the data, note your observations about the following:

Were you surprised about the patterns of affiliation?
What trends did you notice about gender, geography, age or other factors?
What factors do you think account for the decline in the Christian share of the U.S. population?
NOTE: Post an initial response to the question(s) above, then reply to at least two different peers over the course of the module.


Module Objectives
By the end of this module you will be able to:

Discuss the role of religion in individual and public life from the perspectives of secularization and modernization theories.
Identify legitimate sources of religious trend data, and analyze patterns of religious affiliation in the United States.
Assess the impact of secularization on modern religious character and behavior.
Identify hallmarks of the scope and depth of religious influences in social and political life.
Describe the religious influences within the historical context of the Founding.
Learning Activities

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