A national survey of more than 2,000 people recently found that 61% of participants who identified as Republican would be in favor of the U.S. being declared a Christian nation.
This rate far exceeded the total support for declaring the country Christian (38%) as well as the support from Independents alone (36%) and Democrats alone (17%). It only slightly exceeded the percentage of Republicans who believe the U.S. Constitution would not allow the country to be declared a Christian nation (57%).
According to POLITICO, the survey was carried out from May 6 to May 16, just after the outlet published a leaked version of the eventual Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court decision that overturned decades of abortion protections. Overall, 70% of the participants said they believed it would be unconstitutional to declare the U.S. a Christian nation – including 73% of Independents and 81% of Democrats.
According to legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California, Berkeley, this majority is correct.
“The country is not now, never has been, and never should be a Christian nation as a matter of law,” he wrote last year. Chemerinsky explained that in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli the U.S. declared, “[t]he government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
He said that “proposals have been made to amend the United States Constitution to make it a Christian nation, but never have these attracted sufficient support to be seriously considered” and that “it is firmly established that the government violates the Establishment Clause if it discriminates among religious groups.”
Indeed, some of the nation’s “Founding Fathers” and influential thinkers who helped shape the U.S. – including Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, are not identified as Christians.
“While Jefferson was a firm theist, the God in which he believed was not the traditional Christian divinity,” according to Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “Jefferson rejected the notion of the Trinity and Jesus’ divinity. He rejected Biblical miracles, the resurrection, the atonement, and original sin (believing that God could not fault or condemn all humanity for the sins of others, a gross injustice).”
Franklin “described himself in his autobiography as a ‘thorough deist’ who as a teenager had rejected the Puritan faith of his parents,” said a Baylor University article.
Even so, POLITICO reported Wednesday that “prominent Republican politicians” have argued that the U.S. is a Christian nation in November’s midterm elections.
“Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, has argued that America is a Christian nation and that the separation of church and state is a ‘myth,’” said the outlet. It added that other Republicans that have argued the U.S. is Christian include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
“We need to be the party of nationalism, and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists,” said Greene.
According to Rutgers University, Christian nationalists were among the crowd of rioters present during the fatal Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, along with Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.
“Christian nationalists insist that the United States was established as an explicitly Christian nation, and they believe that this close relationship between Christianity and the state needs to be protected – and in many respects restored – for the U.S. to fulfill its God-given destiny,” explained Joseph Williams, a professor in the university’s Department of Religion. “Recent scholarship underscores the extent to which these efforts to secure a privileged position for Christianity in the public square often coincide with efforts to preserve the historic status quo on issues of race, gender, and sexuality.”
Although some Republicans may favor Christian nationalism, many Americans appear to be drifting away from Christianity and belief in God. Gallup’s survey earlier this year found that belief in God had hit a 78-year low. Recent Pew Research Center research found that Christianity may lose its majority status in the U.S. as many young people leave the faith within a few decades.