Monday, August 16, 2010

Is America a Christian Nation?

America’s fractured religious identity

Depending on the study you look at, 70-80% of Americans consider themselves to be Christians. Undoubtedly, Christianity has shaped and guided much of America’s social and cultural structure. Yet, despite its Christian majority, America has a fractured religious identity.

Christianity Today published a survey that identifies 5 different types of Christians in America:

Active Christians 19%

  1. Believe salvation comes through Jesus Christ
  2. Committed churchgoers
  3. Bible readers
  4. Accept leadership positions
  5. Invest in personal faith development through the church
  6. Feel obligated to share faith; 79% do so.
Professing Christians 20%
  1. Believe salvation comes through Jesus Christ
  2. Focus on personal relationship with God and Jesus
  3. Similar beliefs to Active Christians, different actions
  4. Less involved in church, both attending and serving
  5. Less commitment to Bible reading or sharing faith
Liturgical Christians 16%
  1. Predominantly Catholic and Lutheran
  2. Regular churchgoers
  3. High level of spiritual activity, mostly expressed by serving in church and/or community
  4. Recognize authority of the church
Private Christians 24%
  1. Largest and youngest segment
  2. Believe in God and doing good things
  3. Own a Bible, but don't read it
  4. Spiritual interest, but not within church context
  5. Only about a third attend church at all
  6. Almost none are church leaders
Cultural Christians 21%
  1. Little outward religious behavior or attitudes
  2. God aware, but little personal involvement with God
  3. Do not view Jesus as essential to salvation
  4. Affirm many ways to God
  5. Favor universality theology

What do you think?

Is America a Christian nation? What exactly is a “Christian nation”? How does this affect America’s political climate? Leave a comment!

Song of the day

Lecrae - Identity Ft. Da T.R.U.T.H and J.R


  1. What really makes something Christian? Take, for example, the Christian coffee house. Certainly the coffee beans have not repented of their sins and been forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus! It is not the products sold, the music listened to, the arrangement of the furniture, or even the clothes worn.
    It is in the community of believers sharing a common faith in the cross that we find the essence of what makes something Christian. A group cannot be called inherantly Christian if the actions of that group as a whole do not reflect the shared conscience of a Christ follower. Attending church regularly makes someone into a Christian just about as much as going to MacDonald's makes someone into a hamburger.
    One cannot answer the question of whether or not we are a Christian nation by observing the actions of our government. People in leadership come and go. People make mistakes. We all sin big time on our best day and need to repent continually toward God. If we simply look at all of the shortcomings of our political system, we will be missing the true essence of what Christ is doing in our midst. It is in the hearts of the people that we must look to determine if a nation is truly Christian.
    With that said, I believe that our nation is not a Christian nation. We are blessed with free speech and freedom to worship as we choose. Many Americans choose their religion as a part of their identity with which to express themselves. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans I know don't give a damn about the truth of the cross or the words of Jesus. That of course, is their choice.
    America's political climate is dripping with archaic anachronisms that attempt to force us to either strive to bring Puritan Theocracy back to the forefront or to fight for a Communist regime that removes all reference to religion from anything public.
    The answer to this problem is to discover a Christology that reminds us that God's Kingdom is not an earthly or physical one. It resides in the hearts of all who call on Him as God. We must discontinue the hegemony brought about by extremism on either side of the political extremes. God is on the throne. We cannot bring people to Jesus by passing laws that make it illegal to sin! We can only reach people for Christ through love and patient teaching. I think that's about all I have to say about that right now. Any comments?

  2. Andy, thanks for your comment! I agree. While our government's foundation is certainly rooted in Christian morals and beliefs, it is still a part of the world system. Jesus did not come into the world to build his kingdom in the world, but to build his kingdom in heaven. Christians must remember to "give to Cesar what is Cesar's" while remembering that our citizenship is in heaven. Check back next week for my next blog post about "being in the world but not of the world."

    Next question: To what extent should Christians be involved in politics?

  3. There is a great article about this issue in the Huffington Post. In short, it states that we are a nation of Christians rather than a Christian nation. Check it out.

  4. Hey M.T.,
    Love the post and these are great things that we need to think about and understand. A Christian needs to realize they are a missionary wherever God has placed them. The American Christian needs to understand the cultural/religious climate and atmosphere to know how to contextualize the Gospel of God's Redemption in the work of Jesus. We need to understand that we live in a nation that is highly religious, highly spiritual and thinks because of their earthly citizenship they are in fact a Christian as well. Knowing this should direct our preaching to talk about Jesus and how He is far more than that. I find these kinds of studies, blogs and post very helpful because it allows me to know what the culture is saying so that I can preach the message of Jesus in the vernacular.

    Thanks man!
    Looking forward to seeing you Sunday and hopefully you too Andy!

  5. America used to be a Christian nation. That is before we decided that tolerance was more important than God's word. As a nation we tolerate sin in the name of political correctness and declare those who aren't as tolerant are kooks, prejudice or religious nutjobs. We've decided as a Nation that sins like abortion and promiscuity are matters of personal choice. Did you know that 22% of all pregnancies in America end in abortion? Tolerance allows sin to creep in unnoticed through the back door, poisoning a country that was founded on Christian beliefs and laws. It makes me sad to know that I am expected to tolerate evil, or else be seen as a backwards idiot.

  6. Here is what I have been wondering: Should Christians be involved in earthly politics? Is it right for us to "legalize" Christianity? David Servant wrote a well-articulated post about these issues at