- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2022

A majority of Americans said they are “proud” to be in a more religiously diverse nation than the traditional “Judeo-Christian” description has suggested, a new survey revealed Tuesday. 

According to the data from the Public Religion Research Institute, two-thirds of Americans also said they reject the notion that “God intended America to be a new promised land where European Christians could create a society that could be an example to the rest of the world.”

According to the PRRI survey, “White Christians” are in decline, from 59% of the American population in 2004 to 44% in 2021. 

The number of Christians of color went from 15% in 1990 to 25% in 2021, and the share of religiously unaffiliated more than tripled, from 8% to 25%, the researchers reported.

Interfaith America, which promotes “leadership in a religiously diverse world,” publicized the survey findings as the 20-year-old group announced a rebranding from its original name, Interfaith Youth Core “We started as a youth organization 20 years ago working with college students, mostly,” said founder and president Eboo Patel. “And a lot of them 20 years later are government officials and influential religious leaders and authors.”

Now, he said, the group will expand into other areas of society where promoting interfaith cooperation is important. 

“We need to defeat the things we do not love by building the things we do,” Mr. Patel said in a telephone interview. “So if we find spaces of prejudice, we need to defeat those by building spaces of pluralism. If we find spaces of conflict, we need to defeat those by building spaces of cooperation.”

The “Judeo-Christian narrative,” he added, “served the nation well for 100 years. The work that it did was it helped Catholics and Jews feel more a part of the American family. Now it’s time for us to fully welcome Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims, and agnostics and spiritual seekers.”

Mr. Patel said the vision of a “multifaith America” does not refute the basic Judeo-Christian values shared by Islam, Buddhism and other faiths.

“We’re basically proposing two important expansions for America,” he added. The changes are  “from a Judeo-Christian to an interfaith America, and from a melting pot to a potluck nation. We’re saying that religious traditions and religious diversity are at the center of the American experiment.”

Interfaith America, which Mr. Patel said employs 50 people and works with more than 600 college campuses, corporations and other institutions, is expanding its work in part thanks to a $6 million grant from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

According to Forbes magazine, Ms. Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has a net worth of $34 billion.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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