Was the United States founded as Christian nation?
Updated: Sep 2, 2021
In these blogposts, I discuss questions and issues that students have raised in my classrooms during the previous semester. They are good springboards to classroom discussions/debates about the Revolution, American history, and history itself.
One can and should quibble with the word “nation,” since the United States was not founded as a nation, but as a confederation of independent sovereign states. And there is little evidence to suggest that there was a religious purpose behind the Revolution. However, a society or country that is 99% Christian and overwhelmingly religious meets the standard definition of a “Christian country.” Moreover, at the time of the Revolution, two-thirds of the states (though not the United States itself) did have an official Church, and some states retained their state Churches well into the nineteenth century. So for those states, it is even more defensible to apply the term “Christian state,” since they had a clearly Christian agenda, centered on supporting and promoting a particular Christian denomination.
The term “Christian state" or "Christian nation” can convey an inaccurate image to a modern reader because no U.S. state was Christian like Saudi Arabia or Iran are Muslim – that is, no U.S. state was a theocracy, in which ecclesiastical rulings had the force of law. Nevertheless, it is defensible to say that some U.S. states were Christian like England, Norway, and Denmark are Christian – countries with Christianity established as a state religion. Likewise, it is defensible to say that the United States as a whole was Christian like Poland and Brazil are Christian – countries without an established state religion, but whose populations are overwhelmingly religious and Christian.