Can America Rightly Be Called A Christian Nation?

by Robert Driskell · Print Print · Email Email

Is America now a Christian nation?  Some think it is, some want it to be, some say it never was and are doing their best to see that it never becomes one.  Deciding whether to label America a ‘Christian nation’ depends a lot on the definition of the term ‘Christian Nation”.  Much has been written about this topic on both sides of the issue.  I will leave the term undefined and simply offer a scenario to ponder.

What are the characteristics of a ‘Christian nation’?

As far as defining the term “Christian nation”, some questions may help to clear things up.  If someone, who knew nothing about America, were to walk down any downtown city street and look around, would he or she see anything that would lead him or her to believe that we worship a holy God?  On the other hand, would there be ample proof that we idolize material things and immorality instead?  What if that same person were to randomly watch several television channels, what would they think is important to us?  Have you seen a Victoria’s Secret, or even a Carl’s Jr., commercial lately?  What do the movies coming out of Hollywood say about what we like to watch?  How about the message in the popular music of today?

To put it into perspective: If it were a crime to worship God in America, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

If being a ‘Christian Nation’ means that the citizens of that nation all have a saving relationship with Jesus, then America is not a Christian nation.

Is The United States A Christian Nation

Another reason our country’s moral climate is degenerating is the failure of Christians to be diligent in our walk with Jesus.

Separation of Church and State

One reason America is looking less and less like a Christian nation is that atheists, agnostics, and others who hold to a secular worldview, want to keep anything religious or spiritual out the public marketplace of ideas.  In their effort to do this, they will often attempt to stop Christians from voicing their views by raising the issue of the so-called ‘separation of church and state’.  They attempt to use this concept to force believers to keep their opinions to themselves.  Nevertheless, where did this phrase really come from, and what does it really mean?

First of all the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the Constitution at all, nor is it contained in any legal document having to do with the founding of our nation.  The phrase originated in a letter from Thomas Jefferson, in 1802, to the Baptists of the Danbury Convention.  Jefferson was responding to the Baptists in order to calm their concern that the government was preparing to establish a certain denomination as the official denomination of America.  The government’s meddling in matters of faith was one of the main causes of the break from England.  The Danbury Baptists did not want to see the same thing happen in this new country.  Jefferson’s letter assured them that the government would leave a person’s faith in the hands of the person.

Recent court cases have misused this phrase to rob Christians of their God-given right to exercise their faith (or ‘religion’ as the First Amendment states).  How has this happened?  One writer says, “The simple explanation is that the Justices have found in Jefferson’s eight words what they want the First Amendment to say, not what our Founders framed it to say, and not even what Jefferson understood it to say” (Barton, p. 45).  These types of courtroom decisions are thinly veiled attempts to silence God’s people.  We must not allow that to happen.

Voices of the Founding Fathers

What kind of attitude did the men who were instrumental in fashioning our country have concerning God?  Let them speak for themselves.

John Quincy Adams said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity” (WIAWACNA, p.204).  Mr. Adams definitely believed that Christian beliefs should be at the core of the operation of the government.  The secular atheists who wish to see all vestiges of God removed from public awareness must deal with this attitude; an attitude prevalent in the writings of the founding fathers.

John Jay: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers” (Barton, p. 119).  Not only did Mr. Jay refer to America as a ‘Christian nation’, but he also said that we should seek to have Christians as our leaders.  This is why secularists do not like reading, or having others read, quotes like this from our founding fathers.

Last, but not least, George Washington said, “…that without a humble imitation of Christ we could never hope to be a happy nation” (Kennedy, p. 206).  Mr. Washington repeats a biblical truth; that happiness, individual or national, can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Is not this a ‘self-evident’ truth?

Enough is Enough

When will this imaginary ‘separation of church and state’ rhetoric stop being used against Christianity?  It gets used as if it were an established rule.  It is not a law…not now…never has been.  Its abuse is merely an attempt to mislead the public.  Its promoters believe that, if it is repeated enough, people can be brainwashed into thinking it is true.  However, the facts are clear.  Therefore, it is only intentional deception or a correctable ignorance that keeps this argument alive.  Enough is enough.

Living in America does not guarantee that our beliefs will never be challenged or that others will never conduct themselves in ways with which we disagree.  That aspect of our culture is a big part of our freedom.  Many countries are not free to voice their opinion or have meaningful public discourse and debate.  Believers should become informed concerning our history, our society, and our culture, so that we can engage in productive discussions.  However, it is even more important that we know what the Bible has to say and that we nurture our relationship with God at every opportunity.

Crosses, Ten Commandments, and Evangelizing the lost

Another reason our country’s moral climate is degenerating is the failure of Christians to be diligent in our walk with Jesus.  If the Holy Spirit is not alive and active in our hearts and lives we will be less likely to stand firm, as we are repeatedly instructed to do (I Corinthians 16:13; II Corinthians 1:24; Galatians 5:1; Ephesians 6:13; Philippians 4:1; II Thessalonians 2:15; I Peter 5:12), when faced with worldly opposition to our Faith.

While the placing of Crosses and the Ten Commandments in public places will help keep people from forgetting our roots (by ‘roots’ I mean our creation by a Holy God in the Garden of Eden and Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins) and will be articles to cause one’s thoughts to turn toward spiritual things, by themselves they will not make anyone a Christian.  We cannot allow the placement of these things to excuse us from the work of evangelizing a lost and hurting world.  We must stand firm for the Truth.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34 ESV).

Interested in reading more about the United States? Check out these articles:

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The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV)

 

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan Headrick October 27, 2012 at 10:38 am

The quotes section that includes Washington’s quote about not being able to govern without religion….I cannot find it. The quote came possibly from his farewell address to congress, but you would have to paraphrase it to get the quote. Helpful hint….please reference original texts, such Washington’s discourse to the Delaware Indians where her points them to Christ. I support your position, but the quotes are weaknesses if not referenced to original texts.

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Robert Driskell October 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Dan,
My apologies. It seems that my sources didn’t get added to the bottom of my article. Thanks for reading and commenting though. That quote was taken from D. James Kennedy’s book “What If America Were A Christian Nation Again?” (p. 206). He got the quote from “America’s God and Country” by William J. Federer (p. 646). Again, my apologies and the point you make is a very valid point. Thank you. God bless you.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Gregg October 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

The very first question you ask is- What are the characteristics of a ‘Christian nation’? And yet you never include Being a christian simply means, “accepting Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.”

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Jack Wellman October 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Gregg, I can not speak for Robert but this article was not really about how to become a Christian. We have a link called “Come to Jesus” that covers that and we have dozens and dozens of articles that proclaim how to become a born-again believer. Let me say that it is really not about “accepting Jesus” but trusting in Him as Savior and having faith in Him to save us from our sins. I am not sure if we accept Him as must as He accepts our repentance of sins, confessing our sins, and trusting in Christ alone (Rom 10:9-13, 1 John 1:9). Thank you Gregg. I hope I didn’t upset you because I know Robert very well and he understands what is necessary to be born again in Christ Jesus.

Robert, thank you sir for this fine work. I love your conclusion that even though our country is kicking God out of the public square, we can not use that as an excuse to not evangelize to a lost and dying world.

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Robert Driskell October 28, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Jack,
You are a true brother, brother. Thank you for your comments and advice. God bless you.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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gregg October 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm

But my point is, Being a christian simply means, “accepting Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.” If you do this and follow the example of His life then the other things will come into place. But I knew the crux of the article was about being a christian nation. Not personal acceptance of Christ.

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Robert Driskell October 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Gregg,
Thanks for reading and commenting. Jack’s response to your initial comment was spot on. Gregg, my question was not “How does one become a Christian?” If that had been the question, then my answer would have been different. It would have been more along the lines of “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 ESV). And you are absolutely right about following Christ and the other things will work out. Sound advice, sir. God bless you.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Morden Grey February 3, 2013 at 5:41 pm

This country is one nation, under God.
Liberals–that’s right you thug hugging fools–the media, and too many people in general glorify evil and promote the wicked. I personally, am sick of hearing how much better other countries are. Leave then. America is the land of the free, home of the brave. Or rather, home of the free because of the brave. It is a great nation polluted and corrupted by the people within.

Of course, I believe a lot of this is due to the fact that people don’t read anymore. Most people have never read the constitution, the declaration of independence, the bill of rights…or my favorite, Patrick Henry’s Give me Liberty or Give me Death speech.

I know our forefathers had their faults. Who today doesn’t have any? They were good, honorable men. They wanted what was best for the people–and what did they have to go off of to build up a country the right way I ask? For the flaws people find, I challenge them to come up with something better.

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Robert February 4, 2013 at 11:45 am

Morden,
This country “should” be one nation under God. Too many people are not “under God” but in active rebellion against Him. The founding fathers definitely realized the importance of God in one’s life and the life of a nation. Too many people in our nation today think they do not need God at all. This is the sad condition of America today. God bless you, brother.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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bigscott January 7, 2015 at 5:46 am

They can separate the church from the state all they want. BUT they can never separate Christ from our hearts, hard as they try it just is not possible, when we are truly saved.

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Robert January 7, 2015 at 7:01 am

Amen bigscott,
Thank God for that fact.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Moses Cao June 30, 2017 at 4:04 am

“Living in America does not guarantee that our beliefs will never be challenged or that others will never conduct themselves in ways with which we disagree. That aspect of our culture is a big part of our freedom. Many countries are not free to voice their opinion or have meaningful public discourse and debate. Believers should become informed concerning our history, our society, and our culture so that we can engage in productive discussions. However, it is even more important that we know what the Bible has to say and that we nurture our relationship with God at every opportunity.”

This is so true! I like your message very much. I am Chinese, raised up in a Christian family, but when it comes to faith, we do not have actual deeds, (which makes me sad). The act of going to church does not develop our faith or make us more “Christian.” Recently in China, there are thousands of churches’ crosses were torn out, and they were under persecution. I believe more nations do not have the privilege of free religion. When I was a kid, my parents told me that America is a Christian nation, and I have seen many ministers overseas preaching the gospel. I felt that is so honorable to be a citizen of a Christian nation and have Christianity as their culture. However, two years ago, I visited America (California, Denver, and Las Vegas for about a month), with a high expectation of observing this Christian nation. However, I was greatly disappointed. First, there were not as much Christians as I thought there were. Of course, I knew that not everyone would be Christian because Jesus said that the gate of heaven is narrow, but after seeing with my own eyes, sorrow arose in my heart. Second, even people who claimed themselves “Christian,” some of them are gathering for parties, even for food and drinks. They gathered for parties! I was very shocked. I am currently attending American Highschool correspondently and learned more about America. I am still impressed of how the founding fathers created this nation by Puritans, especially what Pilgrims have done. I was able to see the change of the nation from a domain Christianity to transcendentalists ideas, and gradually to where it is now. When the Supreme Court passed the freedom to homosexual marriage, I had a complex emotion in my heart, tangled with anger, disappointing, sad, etc. I was sad that Obama lighted a rainbow light supporting such evil action which our Father detests. There are so many examples in the Bible of complete destruction for people who commit homosexual. Moreover, this is just one example of the many that are leading the nation to corruption, abortion, even the term of “separation of church,” people use this term to control or limit Christian ideas. I totally disagree with these, most of the founding father had a firm faith in God, on the pillars of the Supreme Court, there are pictures of Moses on there, on a dollar bill, there is a line saying “In God We Trust.”, etc. Jesus is coming back soon, we should be firm in our faith, and I know and believe, persecutions will increase. I think we should continue sharing the gospel (spreading seeds) into this world, and pray for our faith not to get astray.

Sorry for my poor English. I know I am still young and immuture in many ways, but if you have anything in mind or having anything to share, please let me know. Thankyou.

Sincerely, Moses

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Jack Wellman June 30, 2017 at 9:54 am

So well said Moses. God bless you there in China. I know that the church in China is exploding and that we should do, as you say, share the Word of God as commanded. Thank you sir for your wise words.

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