USA: Religion                                                                 

  • Religion in the United States is remarkable both in its high adherence level as well as its diversity. A majority of Americans report that religion plays a "very important" role in their lives, a proportion unusual among developed nations, though similar to other nations in the Americas.
  • Many faiths have flourished in the United States because of the country's multicultural heritage. There are also some faiths that were founded within the country. The United States is the most religiously diverse country in the world.
  • Interestingly, the First Amendment to the country's Constitution explicitly forbids any official religion and guarantees the free exercise of all faiths.
  • The majority of Americans identify themselves as Christians (76%) while non-Christian religions (including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and others) collectively make up about 4% of the adult population. Another 15% of the adult population identified as having no religious affiliation. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, difference in religious belief and practice are also highly heterogeneous within the country: only 59% of Americans living in Western states report a belief in God, yet in the South (the "Bible Belt"), the figure is as high as 86%.
  • Several of the original Thirteen Colonies were established by English settlers who wished to practice their own religion without discrimination: the Massachusetts Bay Colony was established by Puritans, Pennsylvania by Quakers, and Maryland by Roman Catholics. Although some individual states retained established churches well into the nineteenth century, the United States was the first nation to have no official religion.