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Poll: For Christians' identity, it's faith first, U.S. second

  • Story Highlights
  • A new CNN poll measures Americans' views on religious issues
  • Most surveyed say peace is unlikely between Islam and Christianity
  • 62 percent say American society has strayed too far from its religious foundation
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Editor's note: This is part of a series of reports CNN.com is featuring for "God's Warriors," a documentary hosted by CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

(CNN) -- Most Christians are more likely to describe themselves as Christian first and American second, according to a new CNN poll examining religious views in the United States.

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A new poll finds that Christian respondents would describe themselves as "Christian" before "American."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found that of the 750 Christians in the survey, 59 percent identify themselves first by their faith, then as Americans, while 36 percent described themselves in the reverse.

CNN's findings are not that different from those in a recent Pew Research Center poll on Muslim-American attitudes. In that poll, 47 percent of Muslims in America say they are Muslim first, American second. Younger Muslims were especially likely to feel that way: 60 percent of them responded they were Muslim first.

CNN's research also found that Americans are now less likely to see the possibility for peace between Islam and Christianity. Of the total 1,029 adult Americans polled, 53 percent say conflict is inevitable between the two religions, up from 45 percent in 2003. Explore Americans' views on religions »

Those polled also said Islam was the religion most likely to use violence. Sixty-eight percent believe Islam is the religion most likely to have followers who would use violence to spread their religion, compared to 11 percent for Christianity and 4 percent for Judaism.

When asked about religion-related violence in the United States, about nine in 10 said they personally would not be willing to kill another person to uphold a religious belief or advance a religious cause. But asked how many other Americans would do so, more than a third responded "many" and "some;" a third said "few" and a quarter said "almost no Americans."

The CNN poll also found that 62 percent say that American society has strayed too far from its religious foundation in the past 50 years, while answers were split almost evenly on religion as a factor in government policy. Forty-five percent said religion should have no influence on government decisions, while 36 percent say it should have some influence, but not the major factor.

When it comes to the Bible, CNN's poll found that 57 percent say they believe the Book of Revelations' description of the violent end of the world, where all but Christians perish. Nearly one in five believes it will happen in their lifetime.

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But of the 750 Christians in the poll, nearly eight in 10 said that people of other beliefs could get into heaven, while only 17 percent believe that only Christians can.

The poll was conducted between June 22-24, 2007, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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