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Poll: Less Than Half Think U.S. Is A Christian Nation

A new poll says 41 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is a Christian nation, compared to 42 percent who believed it used to be, but is not anymore.

The survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institute also found that 15 percent of Americans don't think the U.S. ever was a Christian nation.

It's not clear what the phrase "Christian nation" actually means, but when broken down by party, 44 percent of Republicans said America has always been, and still is, a Christian nation.

Fifty-one percent of Republicans believe the U.S. was once a Christian nation, but is no longer, while five percent said that's never been the case.

Forty percent of Democrats agree that the country is a Christian nation, but 36 percent believe that was only true in the past. Twenty-two percent don't believe the U.S. was ever a Christian nation.

The poll also found that 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants think American life has gotten worse since the 1950s. Sixty-four of white Catholics and 54 percent of white mainline Protestants also believe the 50s were better.

Sixty-nine percent of black Protestants felt that America has improved since the 50s, when many black people were denied voting rights, Jim Crow segregation laws were enforced and some African-Americans were lynched.

When it comes to hate crimes in the U.S., the FBI recently said  LGBT people were more likely than any other minority group to be targets, noted The New York Times.

The FBI studied hate crimes from 2014, and found that LGBT people were followed by Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Whites.

The high rate of anti-LGBT violence may be because of more societal acceptance of LGBT people, according to some who track these types of crimes.

"They may feel that the way they see the world is threatened, which motivates them to strike out in some way, and for some people, that way could be in violent attacks,"  Gregory M. Herek, a psychology professor and an expert on anti-gay violence, to The New York Times.

Sources: Public Religion Research Institute, The New York Times / Photo Credit: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons

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