In America religion today is as diverse as it's ever been. After six years of extensive research, 3,000 interviews and numerous visits to congregations, Harvard University public policy professor and author Robert Putnam has released a new book titled "American Grace." The book--who is co-authored by David Camp of the University of Notre Dame--looks specifically at the role of religion in the United States.
Some of Putnam's findings reveal that Americans are much more likely to marry people who are of a different faith--50 percent to be exact. Whereas in other countries, such as Ireland, marriages between different sects tend to hover around 10 percent. So why in America do individuals seem to be more religiously tolerant than in other countries?
"The most common explanation is, in a way, our religious diversity," Putnam told the NewsHour's Paul Solman at a Quaker meeting house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "From the founding of America, we have had no church, no official state church."
Moreover, when compared with other developed countries, between 30 and 40 percent of Americans attend church weekly. This statistic far outweighs England, where Putnam found that attendance to church is 5 percent. Of the 3, 000 individuals Putnam interviewed, only two revealed that they were atheists, a person that does not believe in religion or the existence of a supreme being.
Still, even with this vast diversity when it comes to religion in America, polarizations between religions do exist. Polarization can be seen in terms of America's views about Muslims and the Islamic faith. Putnam asserts he is concerned with religious polarization, yet he's more concerned with the political divide in this country that tends to cause it.
"One of the things we find is that Americans nowadays are making their religious affiliations in part on the basis of their political affiliations," said Putnam. "The underlying polarization is not the religious polarization. The underlying polarization is -- is really quite terrible political polarization in the country."
"America is a very religious country. And we were able to show that religion in some respects has highly favorable effects for American democracy." --Robert Putnam, author of "Amazing Grace"
"It's very hard to demonize someone or demonize a whole religion if you know people in it." Robert Putnam
1. What is freedom of religion?
2. What is diversity?
3. Name three religions that are practiced here in the United States.
1. According to the video and Putnam's analysis, why is religious diversity so prominent in the United States?
2. Do you practice a certain religion? If so, which one?
3. Do you have friends that are of a different religion than yourself? Does it ever affect your relationship? Why or why not?