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.)
AT THE CENTER
Moral Dilemmas of Partisanship: Ethical Obligations and Limitations for Political Partisans (Full Screen)
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 seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Declaration of Independence (1776), which marked a break with the British Crown, invoked an Enlightenment Deism, while the first amendment to the 1789 Constitution 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 nineteenth 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 US presidents have been Protestants. The engagement of religious communities in politics, which has increased since the rise of evangelical Christian participation in the 1980s, often centers on values issues such as abortion and homosexuality.