U.S. ranks low in religious diversityNews added by Benefits Pro on May 7, 2014

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Of the major political and economic powers around the world, China is the most religiously diverse. The United States doesn’t even make it into the top 50 of the 232 countries the Pew Foundation ranked by its religious diversity index.

France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Russia and Australia all ranked higher than the nation that boasts among its founding principles freedom of religion.

Pew reviewed 2010 data on which of eight major religions people self-identified with: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, folk, traditional and unaffiliated. It found lots of different brands of Christianity in the U.S., but by Pew’s rules, the U.S. is religiously homogenous.

“The United States has often been described as a religiously diverse country, an image celebrated in forums ranging from scholarly work to a popular bumper sticker and even a recent Coca-Cola commercial during the Super Bowl. But, from a global perspective, the United States really is not all that religiously diverse,” Pew said. “In fact, 95 percent of the U.S. population is either Christian or religiously unaffiliated, while all other religions combined account for just 5 percent of Americans.”

That put the U.S. in 68th place in the religious diversity index. See the entire list here.

Conrad Hackett, a demographer at Pew, said the new index provides “useful information for HR professionals who want to understand the religious climate and context of any country.”

Asia, Africa and little island nations dominated the top 10, with Singapore No. 1, Taiwan No. 2, South Korea No. 8, China No. 9 and Hong Kong rounding out the top 10 just behind China.

Pew labeled the U.S. as “moderate” in terms of religious diversity. Here’s the breakdown for the U.S. by major religion:
  • Christian: 78 percent
  • Judaism: 1.8 percent
  • Buddhism: 1.2 percent
  • Islam: 0.9 percent
  • Hinduism: 0.6 percent
  • folk or traditional religions: 0.2 percent
Waxing philosophical, the study’s authors said: “There’s an important distinction between religious diversity and religious freedom, which this report does not measure. … The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, of course, guarantees the right to ‘free exercise’ of religion, which has been celebrated by figures ranging from Alexis de Tocqueville to Norman Rockwell.

“But even as Tocqueville (in the late 1830s) wrote that the ‘sects that exist in the United States are innumerable,’ he also observed that all those sects ‘are comprised within the great unity of Christianity.’ The country has certainly changed over the centuries, but it remains a nation with an overwhelming Christian majority.”

The least religiously diverse nations included Iran, where more than 99 percent of the population identifies as Muslim. Others in this “low” category included Argentina, Haiti, Brazil, Jordan and Vatican City.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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