A poll released Oct. 27 by the Pew Research Center on whether America should be a “Christian nation” contains some good news and some bad news.
Americans continue to believe that the United States was founded to be a “Christian nation,” despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary and the fact that our Constitution says no such thing.
Pew found that 60% of American adults say they believe the founders “originally intended” for the United States to be a Christian nation. Furthermore, 45% of say they believe the country “should be” a Christian nation.
But there’s great disagreement about what exactly being a Christian nation means, and a majority of Americans have not embraced the theocratic views of Christian nationalism.
“While some people who say the U.S. should be a Christian nation define the concept as one where a nation’s laws are based on Christian tenets and the nation’s leaders are Christian, it is much more common for people in this category to see a Christian nation as one where people are more broadly guided by Christian values or a belief in God, even if its laws are not explicitly Christian and its leaders can have a variety of faiths or no faith at all,” wrote Pew. “[T]he survey’s results suggest that most people who say the U.S. should be a Christian nation are thinking of some definition of the term other than a government-imposed theocracy.”
Most Americans are wary of mixing religion and politics. The survey found that 77% of respondents agree that houses of worship should not endorse candidates for political office, and 67% said they believe religious institutions should keep out of political matters generally. These findings are in line with other surveys finding opposition to church intervention in partisan political campaigns.