POPULATION313,847,465 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$49,000 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSProtestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)
ALSO IN U.S. AND CANADACanada
AT THE CENTER
The United States is a secular democracy with a culture rooted in its majority Christian tradition. Religious dissidents from Europe, particularly Puritans from England, were among the first North American settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Declaration of Independence (1776), which marked a break with the British Crown, invoked an Enlightenment Deism, while the first amendment to the Constitution of 1789 both prohibited the establishment of religion and protected religion’s free exercise. High levels of religious diversity and observance have remained distinctive features of American society; even as waves of Catholic immigration from the 19th century onward have diluted the Protestant majority, Jewish and, more recently, Muslim minorities have assumed a more visible role in American society. With the exception of John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, all U.S. presidents have been Protestants. The engagement of religious communities in politics, which has increased since the rise of Evangelical Christianity in the 1980s, often centers on values issues such as abortion and homosexuality.