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Ignorance of American Political History Correlates to Support for Christian Nationalism

People who support Christian nationalism in the United States tend to perform worse on a test of religion’s role in American history, according to new research published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

“There’s been a fairly large amount of research on conservative Christians (particularly those influenced by the Christian Right, like white evangelicals) and their views of science or their knowledge about basic scientific facts,” said Samuel L. Perry (@socofthesacred), an associate professor of sociology at the University of Oklahoma and the corresponding author of the study.

“Research has consistently shown that conservative Christians tend to score lower on, say, brief science quizzes than other Americans. However, research also shows this isn’t necessarily because they’re less intelligent or even ignorant about what the ‘right’ answer is. Rather their response patterns suggest that they are answering particular scientific questions according to their theology.”

“For example, conservative Christians don’t tend to score lower on science questions that are religiously uncontested, like questions about lasers, atoms, or viruses,” explained Perry, the author of The Flag and the Cross. “But when you ask them about ‘the Big Bang’ or ‘evolution’ or even continental drift, they score lower because they reject the scientific consensus on those questions.”

“Related to this, we’ve found that Christian nationalist ideology is a powerful predictor of this kind of response patterning on science quizzes. Americans who more strongly affirm Christian nationalism score roughly the same as other Americans on uncontested science questions, but Christian nationalism is the strongest predictor that Americans get the contested questions wrong.”

The researchers analyzed the responses from a nationally representative sample of 1,378 American adults who had participated in the Public and Discourse Ethics Survey. As part of the survey, the participants were asked to respond to five true/false statements about religion in American political history.

The participants were also asked the extent to which they agreed with statements such as “The federal government should declare the United States a Christian nation” and “The success of the United States is part of God’s plan” — which the researchers used as a proxy for support for Christian nationalism.

Perry and his colleagues found that people who scored lower on the brief American history quiz tended to be more supportive of Christian nationalism. Interestingly, when they removed “I don’t know” responses from their analysis, the researchers found that the negative relationship between historical knowledge and Christian nationalism strengthened, suggesting that support for Christian nationalism is associated with “intentionally affirming factually incorrect statements.”

Read entire article at PsyPost