PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones presented PRRI research and analysis to a packed room at The White House convening, “Celebrating and Protecting America’s Tradition of Religious Pluralism” on December 17, 2015.
The event, which was focused on celebrating America’s tradition of religious pluralism, brought together leaders from a range of religious traditions and civil society, NGOs, and federal agencies to discuss religious inclusion, freedom, and cooperation in the wake of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the U.S.
Jones opened the convening by presenting PRRI findings about America’s rapidly evolving religious landscape, providing some context to the recent anti-Muslim attitudes and general anxiety in the country:
“If you wonder why there is this sense of upheaval, even a sense of anxiety that leads to fear—and even violence—part of it is that these changes actually are quite large, and they’ve happened over a fairly short period of time in the country. It does present a real challenge to deal with this kind of change in a fairly small amount of time.”
Despite the rise in religious diversity, multi-religious people, and interreligious families in the U.S., there is still a fair amount of religious social segregation. For instance, American Protestants’ social networks are mostly made up of other Protestants, and the same goes for Catholics and religiously unaffiliated Americans:
“If we’re looking at what work needs to be done, and ‘knowing your neighbor,’ [our findings on interreligious interaction] go straight to that point. There’s a lot more that needs to be done for Americans to truly ‘know their neighbor’ to the level where they’re having meaningful conversations and not just rubbing shoulders in the hallway.”
Jones went on to discuss the decline in the perception that America is a “Christian nation,” Americans’ lack of information about Muslims, and the most religiously diverse states in the U.S. He concluded by noting that at no time in our nation’s history have we experienced this level of diversity—and this diversity will no doubt present challenges, and ignite fear, but it also presents us with an opportunity to live out the seal of the U.S., “out of many, one.”
Watch the full presentation here—skip ahead to 30:00:
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