According to a new Pew Research Center survey, most U.S. adults believe America’s founders intended the country to be a Christian nation. The survey found that 45% of Americans today believe the U.S. should be a ‘Christian Nation,’ while 51% say it should not be. Only 3 out of 10 people say the U.S. is now a Christian nation.
What is a Christian Nation?
Some define this idea as a nation where Christian values are prevalent, such as loving God and loving others. Others say a Christian nation is one where the laws enshrine ‘religious’ teachings. The first idea is generally positively perceived, while the second is viewed negatively by most of the people who were surveyed.
The negative views are a reaction to the idea that there should not be an intermingling of religion and government. It infers an idea that laws affirming Biblical ideals are overbearing or unfair to non-believers. This idea has been heavily socialized in recent decades. Christians argue a counterpoint that laws that force Christians to violate their values are equally unfair.
It’s an emotional issue. Those who oppose Christian ideals are the most outspoken, and more frequently, some resort to violence in their opposition.
This raises the question: What do people mean when they think of a “Christian nation”? Some people who say the U.S. should be a Christian nation are thinking of a country where most people are Christians. Others are simply envisioning a place where people treat each other well and have good morals. Still, others would define it as a nation where laws are based on Christian tenets and the nation’s leaders are Christians or respect Christian values.
America’s founders believed in all these things. America's origins were deeply religious and infused with faith traditions informed by the Bible. Many of the early English settlers came to America, fleeing religious persecution. God or the divine is mentioned at least once in each of the 50 state constitutions and nearly 200 times overall. God’s name is carved into the walls of our Supreme Court.
“The preacher and his pulpit played important roles in the American Revolution, during which ‘religious organizations dominated political developments.’” Francis Jennings, The Creation of America, p. 171
Separation of Church and State
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The country’s Founders felt strongly that the government should not interfere with the free exercise of religion or establish a state religion. The separation clause was never intended to restrict religious liberties from the public square. It states, in fact, that religious liberty is a right that must be protected, and its expression belongs in the public square.
Today we increasingly see legislation that enshrines liberal ideologies as law and effectively outlaws deeply held religious values or limits religious expression. It could be argued that these are a clear violation of the separation clause.
Where is this heading?
“…Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”
It’s comforting to remain hopeful that our culture could be returned to Biblical values. The Bible doesn’t mention America, of course, but it does say a lot about the condition of the world when Christ returns. While revival and an outpouring of the Spirit are promised, it also paints a vivid picture of growing wickedness and apostasy. The truth is that today’s decline in moral values and belief in God is a clear sign that we are moving closer to the last days.
This is not a cause for Christians to be silent, however. It simply means that our role as lights in a world of growing darkness is more important than ever.
On this 4th of July
Let’s remember the incredible blessing that was bestowed on us by America's Founders in forging for us a nation founded on true liberty. The story of America has not been perfect – human beings are not perfect, but it is still the greatest story of individual freedom that the world has ever known.
This 4th of July, let’s pray for America!
"...I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side." ~ Abraham Lincoln