COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Dec. 20, 2015 — As Americans anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ this year, it is worth asking ourselves whether we can still regard the United States as a “Christian nation.”
In 2008, Barack Obama famously proclaimed that America is no longer exclusively a Christian nation, no matter what we once may have been. He immediately clarified that shocking statement, claiming that we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation and a nation of unbelievers.
In the strictest definition of the word “nation,” Obama was correct.
In the 17th century, as states began to be defined around people instead of around kings and emperors, ethnic groups of people with many characteristics in common, such as ethnicity, language and religion, became the basis for the modern nation-state. Germany, for example, is a state is comprised of ethnic Germans; France is composed of Frenchmen, and England of the English.
What of the United States?
We are exceptional among nations because we traditionally include many different ethnicities—with their religions and cultures—in our national makeup. We were founded not on an ethnicity or a culture, but on an idea, captured in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are equal before God and have the right to pursue their own happiness.
It is in the sense of values and principles that we were founded a Christian nation—and today we remain a Christian nation.
Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people—a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs… — John Jay, Federalist No. 2
Obama made the correct but ultimately trivial point that today this nation contains people of other faiths or no faith at all. This happened because we are tolerant of people whose beliefs are different from ours—so long as they are peaceful and do not cause us harm.
Yet our values and laws remain Christian. It is a uniquely Judeo-Christian value, for example, that all life is precious. While we allow abortion—which became legal by judicial fiat—more Americans are coming to see abortion as the murder of an unborn child. We generally do not approve of sex-selective abortion as practiced in China, nor do we allow unwanted babies to die by exposure as was practiced in ancient Greece. Neither do we kill children for not obeying dietary laws as does ISIS. These are not Christian values.
A study released by Pew Research in May shows that in the age of Obama, from 2007-2014, the percent of Christians in America declined from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent. (Even 70 percent is a strong majority.) The population share lost by Christians did not accrue to the other faiths Obama highlighted, which remain at just under 6 percent overall, but to the unaffiliated.
Pew also reported that white Christians comprise just 46 percent of American adults, down from 55 percent in 2007.
Predictably, the left cheered with joy.
“The notion of America as a mostly white, mostly Christian country is rapidly becoming a fact for the history books,” huffed the Huffington Post. Salon warned Fox News that White Christians are now “officially” a minority. Think Progress pointed out that white Christians are a minority in 19 states.
Many more on the left chimed in, offering opinions along these lines. But what their Marxist, race-class-gender-based view of the world fails to understand is that Christians don’t care what they think, as it doesn’t square with reality.
The difference between that 70 percent and 46 percent is obviously made up of non-Caucasian Christians. To a Christian, such distinctions don’t matter: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
White Christians being replaced by non-white Christians? So what?
Buried deeply within the Pew report is some good news that has gone largely unreported. Some Christian denominations, such as those of historically black Protestant churches, have remained stable in numbers while the number of Evangelical Protestants has actually been growing.
Just as notably, in a Rasmussen poll released just this month, more Americans still believe that Christmas is more about Jesus than about Santa Claus. Americans still largely prefer signs proclaiming “Merry Christmas” over those wishing “Happy Holidays.”
We may not all speak English as our native tongue (if we ever did), and we may be a more diverse nation than we were 50 years ago (although the colonies were quite diverse for their time), but the United States of America is still a solidly Christian nation.
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