Is America a Christian Nation?

Is America a Christian Nation? by Dr. Michael Brown for Ask Dr Brown

In the midst of the ongoing debate about Christian nationalism (see here and here), there are two fundamental questions that need to be asked:

First, what does it mean to be a Christian nation? And second, is (or was) America a Christian nation?

How we answer these questions goes a long way in determining our attitude towards “Christian nationalism.”

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Do you remember back in 2006 when President Obama said that America was “no longer just a Christian nation”? In full, he said,

“Given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”

Then, in 2009, speaking in Turkey, he stated that we Americans “do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Muslim nation, but rather, a nation of citizens who are, uh, bound by a set of values.” Do you recall the outcry that followed?

To paraphrase what many of us were thinking:

“What? America is not a Christian nation? Of course it is! And our country is just as certainly not a Muslim nation, like Saudi Arabia or Iran. 

“Our founding colonies were explicitly Christian. Christian thinking informed our founding documents. Christian holidays are our national holidays. And the vast majority of our citizens profess to be Christians. Of course we consider ourselves to be a Christian nation.”

As articulated in a press release by Don Swarthout, President of Christians Reviving America’s Values, “When I actually heard our very own President saying the United States is NOT a Christian nation, I couldn’t believe my ears.  His statement is just not true and is a total fabrication on President Obama’s part.”

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