Religious faith is a distant third behind the influence of family and patriotism on self-identity in the U.S.
“Adults are most likely to point to their family as making up a significant part of their personal identity [62 percent], ‘being an American’ comes second [58 percent] and ‘religious faith’ is in third [38 percent],” according to a recent survey conducted by The Barna Group.
Generational divides were notable in the responses.
Family was a strong influence for 76 percent of “Elders” (born in 1945 or before) compared to 53 percent of “Millennials” (born between 1984 and 2002). This sharp decline was evident with regard to patriotism and religion.
Eighty percent of Elders said patriotism significantly impacted their identity, while 34 percent of Millennials said this was true.
When asked about religious faith, 46 percent of Elders affirmed this as a leading influence, compared to 28 percent of Millennials.
“Younger generations – Gen-Xers and Millennials – are generally less trusting of institutions than older generations. This disenfranchisement holds true in their relative reluctance to claim any of these factors as part of their identity,” Roxanne Stone of The Barna Group said.
Religious tradition influenced responses, with high numbers of practicing Christians affirming the importance of family, patriotism and faith.
Practicing Catholics (86 percent), Evangelicals (74) and Mainline Protestants (72) affirmed that family was a significant influence on their personal identity.
By comparison, 52 percent of other faith traditions and 42 percent of “nones” affirmed family’s importance.
Responses about patriotism and religion followed similar trends.
Seventy-four percent of practicing Catholics, 71 percent of Mainline Protestants, 65 percent of Evangelicals, 35 percent of other faith traditions and 33 percent of “nones” said patriotism significantly influenced their identity.
Following an analogous pattern, Evangelicals (94 percent), Mainline Protestants (87) and Catholics (79) said religion was a leading influence on their identity, contrasted by 6 percent of “nones.”
The full report is available here.