Is America a Christian Nation? Does America have a Christian Heritage and History?
Barack Obama says America is not a Christian Nation. People are offended.
I have found this to be an almost impossible conversation to have because it is rarely established in a conversation what is meant by “Christian Nation.” Each side means something different.
Possible meanings of “Christian Nation”:
- Everyone in America is Christian
- Most people in America are Christian
- American Institutions are Christian
- The Character and Behavior of America is Christian
- The Character and Behavior of Americans are Christian
- America was founded by Christians
- America’s values are Christian
- Etc., etc., etc.
I am not a historical expert, although I hope I will be when you ask me again in 15 years. I have read a number of things and listened to a number of arguments and here are my current conclusions about America.
- In the early 1600s the people that came to America came for the purpose of religious freedom and to advance Christianity in the earth – and/or they came for a new life and material gain (nothing inherently wrong with those last two).
- The Bible and Christianity were the most influential sources of ideas and beliefs in America from the beginning (1600s) all the way up to (and following) the War for Independence from Britain.
- All Americans from the beginning onward were flawed and normal human beings. They were highly influenced by Christianity but were not perfect by any means.
- America was never a perfect Christian Nation, but it truly was a Christian Nation in many ways!
- The ideas of Christianity were the most influential and prominent in the creation of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
We still have freedom. We can still turn this thing around.
Christian Revival and Christian Teaching can make America a Christian Nation again. We cannot (and should not) force everyone (or anyone) to have faith in Christ; but the Kingdom of God is like Yeast (Luke 13:20-21) – if Christians live it out, it will leaven the whole batch of dough! We’ll have nothing to fear from the “tares among the wheat.”
I believe there is hope for America. The faulty foundations of humanism that have been crammed into the place where Christianity was will crumble and fail. They can do nothing else.
We need to build up the next generation of Christian Believers to be ready to rebuild America when the enemies of God fail.
There’s lots of work for us to do! Let’s get to it!
Patrick Henry once said: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”
Austin Cline writes at Austin’s Atheism Blog:
There are a couple of serious flaws with Ramundo‘s argument here. First, no one seriously argues that many of America’s founders had strong religious beliefs. What is argued is, first, they weren’t always motivated by religious beliefs that were identical to the beliefs of conservative evangelical Christians today and, second, that being motivated by religious beliefs is not the same as trying to create a government that is based upon religious beliefs. It is strange that people like Ramundo would fail to consider the possibility that devout Christians might want to establish a national government where religious doctrines play no role. [Read More]
Here is the response that I wrote:
I would like to submit some thoughts for the consideration of both the author of this article and the passer-by.
Christianity is a comprehensive worldview. It is rooted in the teachings of Moses; and clarified and fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Bible has teaching that apply to every area of life.
This is the implication – if the founders really had deep religious beliefs as the author acknowledges, it would be impossible for those beliefs not to inform the way they formed a government. At least it would be impossible if those beliefs were Biblical and Christian.
I agree that the founders had the wisdom to recognize the importance of separating the institution of church and the institution of state. This institutional separation does not, however, forbid the building of government upon beliefs derived from a Christian worldview. It only seeks to separate institutions of authority.
In the old Testament there is a story where King Uzziah entered the temple to burn incense*. The priests confronted him with the fact that it was not his role to do so!
Uzziah became angry and God struck him with leprosy! I suspect that God knew the danger of blurring the lines between religious institutional role & authority and the role & authority of civil government. However, the same Bible is filled with ideas about civil government!
Summary: The institution of church should not be confused or blurred with the institution of state; but this does not exclude the benefits of applying Biblical Christian ideas to civil government, nor does it need to prevent the state acknowledging God.
* II Chronicles 26:16-21