The United States is without question one of the most religious countries in the industrialized world. Current surveys indicate that over 80 percent of Americans claim to believe in God, compared with 62 percent of the French and 52 percent of Swedes. About two-thirds of Americans claim church membership, 40 percent say they go to church once a week, 60 percent go monthly, and 43 percent describe themselves as born-again Christians. Three times as many people in the United States believe in the virgin birth as in evolution. Although twenty-nine million Americans say they have no religion, fewer than 5 percent of the population will admit to atheism or even agnosticism. Whether these figures reflect reality is irrelevant; the point is that the vast majority of Americans want to be seen as religious and think it unacceptable to be viewed otherwise, even by an anonymous polltaker. This is hardly surprising since 58 percent of Americans—as opposed to only...


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