Within countries, individuals who are more religious also tend to be more nationalist. A 1983 survey of 15, mostly European, countries found that "in every country surveyed, those who said they were not religious are less likely to be proud of their country." On average, the difference is 11 percent. Most European peoples rank low in their belief in God and their pride in country. America ranks with Ireland and Poland, close to the top on both dimensions. Catholicism is essential to Irish and Polish national identity. The dissenting Protestant heritage is central to America's. Americans are overwhelmingly committed to both God and country and see them as inseparable. In a world in which religion shapes the allegiances, the alliances and the antagonisms of people on every continent, it should not be surprising if Americans again turn to religion to find their national identity and their national purpose.
Significant elements of American elites are favorably disposed to America becoming a cosmopolitan society. Other elites wish it to assume an imperial role. The overwhelming bulk of the American people are committed to a national alternative and to preserving and strengthening the American identity of centuries.
Samuel P. Huntington is chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies and an editorial board member of The National Interest. Copyright 2004 by Samuel P. Huntington. From the forthcoming book, Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity, to be published by Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY. Printed by permission.Essay Types: Essay