Troubling, but is anyone really surprised?
Our study seems to confirm a social norm in America: that religious expression should be compartmentalized and private, something kept at home or brought out only in specific, limited circumstances. Publically identifying oneself with a certain belief system can be a faux pas with real and negative consequences. This norm applies to a wide range of religious and irreligious expressions. As such, both the proselytizing evangelical and the adamant atheist are suspect.
Many Christians intuitively sense this norm. We feel that we should be discreet, if not silent, about our faith. This creates a tension, because Scripture presents our faith as good news to be shared, as light to be shown, as salt to be tasted—not a hobby to be hidden. Negotiating this tension between the demands of society and the teachings of Christ is a fascinating, critical aspect of the Christian practice.