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Survey: ‘Great Replacement’ Belief Correlates With Christian Nationalist Views

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(RNS) — An often repeated element of Christian nationalism — an ideology with a range of expressions and increasingly vocal supporters — is a belief in America’s divine origins. The United States, proponents insist, is meant to be a “city on a hill” which God intends as a blessing and example for the world.

A new survey finds a majority of Americans who hold to such a view also believe in a “replacement” conspiracy theory holding that immigrants are invading the U.S. in an attempt to replace the country’s current culture.

The survey findings were released in an editorial on Monday (Oct. 11) by Public Religion Research Institute CEO Robert P. Jones. In his post, which was published both on the Substack platform and at Religion News Service, Jones revealed previously unpublished data from a broader survey conducted by PRRI in August — specifically, a question concerning a telling of U.S. history often voiced by Christian nationalists.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 noted the question echoes the Doctrine of Discovery, a theological principle outlined in a series of papal bulls that has been used for centuries to justify the subjugation of Indigenous peoples.

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Jack Jenkins is a national reporter for Religion News Services. His work has appeared or been referenced in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, MSNBC and elsewhere. After graduating from Presbyterian College with a Bachelor of Arts in history and religion/philosophy, Jack received his Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University with a focus on Christianity, Islam and the media. Jenkins is based in Washington, D.C.