Maybe more than 2/3's of those who identify as Native Am. are also more than 2/3's white themselves.Very relevant point. Nearly 5% of GSS respondents self-described their ethnicity as Native American, far higher than the 1% or so of the total US population the Census lists as being Native Americans of only one race. There are probably some people with a Cherokee great grandmother who are telling GSS interviewers they are ethnically Native American. Adds a nice mystical element to one's constitution!
What percentage of people who identify as Native American are actually at least 51% Native American? I don't know but there are incentives for identifying as Native.
I'm regularly vexed by my inability to seamlessly rehash empirical data in conversation when I'd assumed it would easily stick as I came upon it for the first time. It's hardly a frustration unique to me, and the conventional explanation that it takes ingesting information three times to internalize it seems to be generally accurate in my experience. Sometimes, though, I am surprised by the inaccuracy of my preconceived notion--which tends to be embarrassing, given how starkly actual data contradicts it--to such an extent that I know without a doubt that a single exposure is sufficient to permanently equip myself with it. Razib's parenthetical remark in a post considering why Catholics are Democrats is the latest instance:
The majority of people of Irish descent today in the United States are Protestant, but I suspect they’re less obviously “Irish” in their cultural markers in part because of their religious break from tradition.The explanation for why this isn't popularly obvious strikes me as spot on. It describes why I was under the impression that it the split was roughly 60%/40% in Catholicism's favor among those claiming a religious affiliation, with much of the Protestant minority coming from British-controlled northern Ireland (that my maternal grandfather was an Irish Catholic probably had some influence, too). Among those of Irish descent, Catholic church attendance is higher than it is among Protestants (34.6% to 28.8% attending services at least once a week). The variances are minor, but this is in contrast to frequency of attendance among American Catholics and Protestants at large (30.0% to 31.8% weekly or more). Irish Catholics are slightly more pious than their co-religionists in the US are, while Irish Protestants are a bit less so.
As for my errant conception, I had the Catholic/Protestant ratio backwards. It's actually 57%/43% in Protestantism's favor.
The following table shows the Protestant/Catholic/Jewish/unaffiliated breakdown by ethnicity. To balance the desire for contemporary relevance with adequate sample sizes, data are from the last two decades. Sample sizes are at least 100 (okay, technically 98 so that Austrians can be included) for all ethnic groups shown:
In the case of the Chinese, Greek, and Indian, "other" primarily consists of Buddhist, Orthodox, and Hindu (and to a lesser extent Muslim), respectively. Americans largely consist of Appalachian whites (referred to as Ulster-Scots or Scots-Irish) whose ancestors formed the basis of David Hackett Fischer's fourth set of British folkways.
Perusing* the table, I'm relieved to see that only in the case of Irish descent was I way off the mark. I've tended to regard those of Russian descent as Jewish unless they happened to be Eastern Orthodox, but a sizable minority (28.5%) have Protestant or Catholic affiliations.
The size of the Catholic contingent among non-French Canadians (for clarity, I term them British Canadians here rather than using the GSS label "other Canadians") is higher than I expected it to be, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised as nearly half of Canadians are at least nominally Catholic.
Also a bit surprising is that more than two-thirds of Native Americans are Protestants, with fewer than 1 in 20 maintaining adherence to traditional tribalistic beliefs. Aggregating all Protestant denominations under a single heading is an oversimplification, of course, but the Native American affiliation profile is nearly identical to the Swedish one! I would not have expected to be able to say that.
As a Catholic of Indian descent, Bobby Jindal wins the rarity award among politicians with some level of national prominence. He's 1 in nearly 2,000 on these two dimensions, easily beating out other affirmative action GOP big shots Sarah Palin and Michael Steele.
GSS variables used: ETHNIC, RELIG, YEAR(1988-2008), ATTEND
* Pursuant to the correct meaning of the word!