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