(RNS] — A belief in America’s divine origins is an often repeated element of Christian nationalism, which is an ideology with many expressions and more vocal supporters. Proponents claim that the United States is intended to be a “city upon a hill” which God intends to use as an example and blessing for the rest of the world.
A new survey has found that a majority Americans who believe such views also believe in a conspiracy theory claiming that immigrants have invaded the U.S. to replace its current culture.
The survey findings were released in an editorial on Monday (Oct. 11) by Public Religion Research Institute CEO Robert P. Jones. His post was published on both the Substack platform as well as at Religion News Service ,. Jones shared previously unpublished data from a broader poll that PRRI conducted in August . This included a question about a telling U.S. History often posed by Christian nationalists.
Asked whether “God intended America to be a new promised land where European Christians could create a society that could be an example to the rest of the world,” white evangelical Protestants were the only religious group with a majority (52%) who said they completely or mostly agree.
Hispanic Protestants were second (46%), followed by other nonwhite Protestants (38%), white Catholics (37%), Hispanic Catholics (35%) and white mainliners (34%).
Among those least likely to agree were Jewish Americans (27%), Black Protestants (26%), other non-Christians (15%) and the religiously unaffiliated (11%).
Jones pointed out that the question echos the Doctrine Of Discovery ,, a theological principle laid out in a series a papal bulls and used for centuries to justify the submission of Indigenous peoples.
“God intended America to be a new promised land where European Christians could create a society that could be an example to the rest of the world.” Graphic courtesy of PRRI
A chart accompanying the post revealed support for the idea is notably higher among Republicans (53%) than Democrats (18%), and is especially high among those who trust far-right media sources (67%) and those who believe conspiracy theories associated with the QAnon movement (65%).
Jones also pointed to one especially unsettling trends among those who completely or mostly agree that the U.S. was singled out by the divine: most (55%) believe the “replacement theory” idea that immigrants are invading the U.S. and “replacing our cultural and ethnic background.”
The so-called great replacement theory is popular among white nationalists, including racists who chanted slogans linked to the idea during the 2017 clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Anti-Defamation League has also argued men who carried out recent mass shootings in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, all appeared to either express sentiment similar to the theory or reference it outright in online manifestos.
But the theory is being promoted by mainstream conservative voices, including Tucker Carlson, Fox News host. During a September episode, he mentioned the theory and accused the Biden administration to trying to use immigration “to alter the racial composition of the country .”
In the PRRI survey, most Americans who trust Fox News (52%) agreed that God intended America to be a new promised land.
The margin of error for the entire survey is +/-1. 86 percentage points.
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