Is America a Christian Nation?

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.”

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 ou …

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