America is a very religious country in many ways. It's strange to say because we are also known as the land of overly sexualizing everything, but Americans tend to take religion in their lives very seriously. Atheists are also often very hard core about their beliefs. It is difficult to say any one thing about America because it is a land of so many different people and beliefs and attitudes and backgrounds, but it really does have a serious religious core that is too often based on fear of others.
The country began where I grew up and it was first settled by very staunch, disciplined, religious people. New England maintains some of that Puritan attitude to this day.
All this is to say that, strangely, even being quite a religious nation, a survey just came out showing that Americans know very little about religion, their own and other people's:
Half of Americans don't know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist and less than four in ten know that Shiva and Vishnu are part of Hinduism.
The article has a link at the top to a quiz, which has a sample of the questions asked. I got a perfect score :) It was only ten questions. I would love to take the whole thing and see how I do!
Religion is the thing that interests me the most and which I study. I'm proud that I also learn about other people's religions. I have read the Christian Bible, I have gone to Jewish services, I have even visited a Mosque on two occasions. I think that learning about others' beliefs makes for a more unified world.
Knowledge is always good. Learning and growing and understanding is good. We share this world with people who believe differently than us and we will be miserable if we can't accept and try to understand the perspectives of those people.
And here is something that someone named Al Haug posted on Facebook that was very moving to me. This is what being American should be:
By the way, for those who in the comments who have mentioned that I take things too seriously and should lighten up, this is something that you have to know about me. I am a really serious person (I have a sense of humor, but it is dry and British and subtle). I am fascinated by the deepest questions in life and I pursue them. This is one reason I have trouble finding a husband :) I do worry too much and I am intense and serious. I'm working on taking life in a lighter way, but I'll never stop digging into the deepest questions of religion and life and how people find meaning. That's something that I love.
EDITED TO ADD:
A friend found the actual survey, here it is:
It will take me some time to print this out and go through it, I'll get back to you to let you know how I do.