A Christian Nation?

Was America founded as a Christian nation?  How you answer this question reveals a certain understanding of American history.  The answer may also say something about your view of the role of religion in American government and public live.  And, for certain Christians, the answer has to do with a theological understanding of America as a nation somehow unique in God’s plans.

This 30 minute video interview with prolific Christian historians Mark Noll and George Marsden addresses America’s founding with important – and often neglected – historical nuance.  I wish all American Christians would take the advice given by Noll and Marsden to acknowledge the messy complexities of America’s religious roots.

4 comments

  1. Daniel Mich

    The short answer is that we we were primarily founded as an economic exploration. The goal was to try and make money using the emerging system of mercantilism. The aspect of religious liberty was second, and almost always secondary. However, some circumvent the truth and put it as primary, where they want it because it fits the story that they wish was the reality.

  2. Kathy Khang

    I should go to bed, so I will watch the video tomorrow. I’m hoping the video addresses this but, let’s also remember that America existed before Columbus & the Pilgrims. America as we know it started with a whole lot of ugly. As Christians in America, we need to include that part of history in our narrative and take the time to integrate that into our understanding of American evangelicalism.

    • David Swanson

      Noll and Marsden are responding to the notion that the USA as a political entity was founded on specifically Christian values. Towards the end they both discuss the ugly aspects of that founding that are generally left out or glossed over by proponents of an overly simple view of the Christian faith of the founders.

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