Some politically conservative Christians say that America is “a Christian nation,” and at this time of year, with the country saturated with Christmas imagery, it can seem that they are right. Are they? Is America a “Christian nation”? Should it be?
Is America a “Christian nation?” The question is not as simple as might first appear. Better to say that this is a nation whose citzens are overwhelmingly Christian. This is a distinction with a difference.
America is not a Christian nation by constitution or charter. There has never been a time when all Americans were Christians or that Christian identity could be assumed as evangelical.
But, American citizens are overwhelmingly Christian. This has always been so, and is so now. This is why G. K. Chesterton would refer to America as the “nation with the soul of a church.” The American experiment in religious liberty has produced a nation that, unlike most of Europe, has resisted complete secularization.
The vast majority of Americans identify themselves as Christians. This simple fact points to the “Christian” character of the nation. America is not Christian by constitutional provision or creedal affirmation — but its people are overwhelmingly Christian by self-affirmation. Thoughtful evangelicals will not overestimate the convictional character of this self-identification. Secularists ought not to overestimate its superficiality.
Read the article – and let me know what you think. You will find the other panel responses interesting as well. As of now, there are already 141 responses.