Is the United States a “Christian” nation? A few years ago our President declared that we are no longer a “Christian” nation. His comment generated a rather spirited discussion in the media, with many commentators taking exception to his assessment. A survey was subsequently published indicating the percentage of people in this nation who claim to be “Christian” has dropped significantly, though they are still in the majority. The same survey also showed a significant increase in people who claim no belief in God.
Are we a “Christian” nation? Or, as some have phrased it, are we still a “Christian” nation, assuming that such a designation accurately described us at one time? Many individuals rather emphatically insist that we are. It is an intriguing question to ponder. The answer depends, ultimately, on what is meant by the phrase “Christian nation.”
There can be little doubt that our founding fathers, for the most part, based their principles of morality on what is referred to as Judeo-Christian principles. The system of laws they established generally reflects that philosophy. At the same time, they were careful to guard against the establishment of a state-religion. They set in place measures that guarantee religious freedom for all.
Historically, has the moral identity of this nation generally reflected what could be called Christian values? Yes. Has the majority of the citizens of this nation consistently identified themselves as Christians, of some kind or another? Yes. Does the conduct of our society and the character of our culture generally reflect faithful adherence to Christian principles? The answer is, obviously, NO!
Only in the loosest sense could it be said that this nation was ever a “Christian” nation. From a strictly scriptural, analytical perspective the United States has never been a truly “Christian” nation. There is a difference between identifying oneself as a “Christian” and truly being what the Bible describes a Christian to be. A huge percentage of those who claim to be Christians are nominal Christians, at best. They verbally claim the identity but live a life that identifies themselves otherwise. The moral fabric of our nation as a whole has deteriorated to the point that only glimpses of Christian character remain to be seen.
It would be useful to understand the reason behind the effort of some people to deny that this is a “Christian” nation. Is it an attempt to recognize that the people of this nation come from many different religious and philosophical backgrounds? Possibly. But there are many people who want to secularize our nation. They’re not comfortable with religion, even general religious principles, having any sway in the public domain. They would hold that all public policy should reflect a strict, secular view devoid of religious influence. It could probably be fairly said that some of the champions of this secular view would actually be enemies of religion, though they might verbally deny such.
We’d better be careful to not be complacent about such a fundamental concept. Our nation, including our freedom of religion, could end up being changed profoundly in very negative and self-destructive ways…
Gary L. Hutchens