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Religious Diversity in a “Christian Nation”: The Effects of Theological Exclusivity and Interreligious Contact on the Acceptance of Religious Diversity

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Using data from the nationally representative Religion and Diversity Survey, Americans’ responses to religious diversity are examined at the national and community levels. While an overwhelming majority of Americans agree that religious diversity has been good for the nation, support for the inclusion of non-Christians in community life is mixed. Theological exclusivism is consistently and strongly associated with negative attitudes toward religious diversity and less willingness to include Muslims and Hindus in community life. Belief that the United States is a Christian nation is associated with a positive view of religious diversity but decreased willingness to include Muslims in community life. Prior contact with Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus is predictive of more positive views of religious diversity; contact with Muslims is associated with greater tolerance for a mosque in one's community.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of SociologyThe Pennsylvania State University

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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