Some thoughts on our “Christian” Nation

I recently received a facebook request to join the cause: “Tell Obama America is a Christian Nation”.  Coming from the Bible-belt, this was certainly a worldview that I am very familiar with and one that I’ve thought through extensively ever since I was old enough to vote.   I think I have come to a few conclusions concerning the matter.  Please leave feedback.

America isn’t a christian nation.

First, “Christian” is never used as an adjective in the Bible.  There’s no such thing as a “Christian” anything, except for a person.  Sure, for most of its history most people living in America have been Christians, but if you have mostly Christians living in a certain apartment complex, would it suddenly be called a “Christian” apartment complex?  Most all of America’s founders were Universalists (John Adams), Unitarians (Thomas Jefferson), Masons (Ben Franklin), and Deists (pretty much all the rest).  Hardly any were Orthodox Christians in any recognizable sense of the word other than the fact that they used the words “God” and “Creator”, but so do a lot of other groups that clearly aren’t Christians.

Second, there’s a big difference between checking off “Christian” on a poll and actually being a Christian.  Sure most people still check that off, but I would say that the percentage of people that are actually saved, born-again, living-the-life, actually loving Jesus Christians out there is less than half.  It certainly feels that way living in the city, at least.

Thirdly, at the very least, even if America was “founded on Christian ideals”, the nature of a democracy/republic is that it changes with the public beliefs.  Even if it used to be a Christian nation, the basic worldview of the citizenry has changed, so “what” the nation “is” has changed.  The “public” define the nature of a democracy/republic, not its past.

Lastly, every time in history that Christianity has been used to describe a country, it’s never gone well (see: Constantine, the Inquisition, the Crusades, etc.).  I pray America becomes a nation of Christians, but for the vast majority of its history, Christianity has done a lot better when it was in the minority (China, anyone?).  We don’t fight for numbers of people or a percentage of a population or an office in politics.

We fight for the Glory of Christ.

Any thoughts?

Here’s a very balanced and helpful article from Patrol Mag, and here are some lyrics from a favorite Derek Webb Song of mine, “In God we Trust”:

In God we trust
and the government is on His shoulders
in God we trust
through democracy and tyranny alike
in God we trust
He uses both good and evil men

in God we trust
so we fight for peace and He fights for us
in God we trust
even when He fights us for someone else
in God we trust
even when He looks like the enemy

in God we trust
even though our hearts are bankrupt
in God we trust
for more than just the value of our dollar bills
in God we trust
but there’s no gold behind these notes of reserve

in God we trust
even through our great presumption
in God we trust
even though He favors no nation-state
in God we trust
even when the blessing is a curse

5 thoughts on “Some thoughts on our “Christian” Nation

  1. Man, when I saw that photo pop up in my Google Reader I had to do a double-take. But then again I realized that I know a whole lot of people in the conservative Reformed circles I float in down here in Florida who would probably want to affirm that.

    Anyway, as someone who is not American, I’m glad that you can see the truth of this matter (both historic and present). Having studied quite a bit of American history in college, I always want to point out to people that almost none of the founding fathers, as you said, were anything close to orthodox Christians. My favorite example to pull out of the hat—which almost always works—is Thomas Jefferson cutting the passages out of his Bible that he didn’t like. And this idea of “certain inalienable rights” is based on some shaky exegesis.

    But enough of that. Your second point is important. These statistics about Christianity are so misleading. The Barna group did a survey some time ago (I think I saw it on Ed Stetzer’s blog) which demonstrated that less than 9% of Americans held to something resembling a biblical worldview. I was even surprised at that, I thought it would be higher. That would be a far more accurate statistic than these more generic ones which become so exaggerated.

    Another interesting factor to take into account, related to your point about public beliefs shaping the religious makeup of a nation, is the relationship of church and state here in the US. The radical split between the two has created a very interesting dynamic that really complicates things.

    Okay, going to leave it at that. Hope you get some good discussion here.


  2. Pingback: The Good Motivations of the Heart: God-merica, pt.IIIb [REPOST] « the long way home

  3. Pingback: FREE Derek Webb album download for 48 hours only! « the long way home

  4. Pingback: Proud to be an American: a blow to Voter ID Laws | the long way home | Prodigal Paul

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