Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Christian Nation?

Is America a Christian nation?

ABC News has a story about Sarah Palin's statement that America is a Christian nation. In her words, God has shed his grace on this country. And the idea that a national leader could say that America isn't a Christian nation? Well, Sarah Palin thinks that's "mind boggling."

I can't resist saying (quite sincerely) that I'm not sure how much mind Sarah Palin has to boggle. It might not be a difficult task.

Of course America is a Christian nation. Most of its citizens think of themselves as Christians - about 78% according to the Pew Research Center. Pew includes Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and a few other little groups in their numbers that I don't really think of a Christian. But still, three out of four America's are Christians.

And I think of myself as a Christian.

Sarah Palin (among others) would like you to think that as a US Senator, Barack Obama told the 2006 Call to Renewal conference that America is not a Christian country. Here's what he actually said:
Moreover, 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.

You can see the whole speech here.

I think the idea that America is a Christian country is undeniable. Did the Founding Fathers intend for us to have a Christian government? That's a different issue. I've written before about the exchange between Jefferson and Franklin in the preparation of the Declaration of Independence. But there's plenty of other evidence that the Founding Fathers didn't intend for us to have a religious government. It was to be part of our freedom that, as individual citizens, we get to maintain the country's status as a Christian nation by our private, personal behavior and beliefs - without the help of government.