Posted by: crewsnr | May 6, 2009

America: A Christian Nation?

Newsweek CoverAfter reading a recent article in Newsweek entitled “The Decline and Fall of Christian America” by Jon Meacham, I could not help but think about how it pertains to our seminar class. In the article, Meacham describes some alarming stats that would scare every Christian fundamental. Since 1990, the “number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation has nearly doubled, rising form 8 to 15 percent.” In the last twenty years, there has been a fourfold increase in Americans who consider themselves atheist or agnostic (from 1 million to 3.6 million people). Likewise, the number of Christians has dropped from 86 to 76 percent since 1990. Consequently, it seems like America is experiencing a culture shift, and the western world is on the path towards a post-Christian, post-modern future. Should Christians be concerned by these trends?

Meacham rightly reminds his readers that the American nation was never based on a specific faith; in fact, America’s “unifying force” has also been the promise of freedom. Yet, due to America being a land of freedom, conservative Christians have lost several important battles in the political arena in the last 50 years, such as prayer in public schools, abortion, gay marriage, to name a few. Is America slowly developing into a state that resembles secular Europe? Should Christian Americans stand and fight this evolution? In response to these questions, Meacham suggests that Christians remember the traditions of Christianity and the lessons of our Christ Jesus. In several situations, Jesus reminded his Apostles that Christians are foreigners, strangers on this earth. Being a member of Christ’s everlasting kingdom, Christians should remember that their eternal residency is not this physical, temporary earth. Therefore, Christians must recall that they are simply passing through this world. However, Christians cannot sit idly and wait for their time to kick the bucket. Jesus has called his Church to make a difference in this world by preaching the Word of God and loving others as Christ loves us. Yet, Christians must always remember that this temporal world is also changing and evolving, and our time is but a scratch on the time continuum.



  1. In my humble opinion the majority of “Christians” in the US don’t really resemble the man or
    His message that they claim to follow. After coming back from Nicaragua I’ve been struggling to attend mass because there is no struggle to be found there, it’s status quo all the way even to the point where we focus so much on family and personal, individual sin that I want to throw up sometimes.

    Christianity, in my interpretation, is exactly what you describe Nick- outsiders, or at least they should be taking up the cause of the marginalized, the oppressed, the poor because this was Christ’s social message. It requires more than what we are doing, it’s harder than we’d like to believe and I agree 100% that America is seemingly being less and less of a Christian nation, how can we call ourselves that and wage wars against “terrorism”, consume possession after possession, engross ourselves in this vapid and idolatrous culture…

    It almost says everything that we write In God we trust on what? our dollar bills because I think that’s what we are choosing to value, to worship day in and day out.

  2. There is something striking to me in the rise of secularism in consumer cultures like the United States. It’s always accompanied by peaks in depression, thus peaks in the use of anti-depressant medications.

    I actually think that in terms of the poor, the oppressed, or the spiritually ill, we need not look too far. My parents are alarmed that I have had multiple friends from childhood through college commit suicide, but I insist that that it is not that unusual. In fact, I would say that many of us, when we embody the true American spirit of raw consumerism, are victims in an incredibly oppressed nation. We are often slaves to our own desires and habits.

    We may know more about what’s going on with international wars and hunger, but we are increasingly alienated locally. I heard just yesterday that something like 75% of Americans don’t even know their next door neighbor’s name. This seems to me to be a product of our technology, bringing us away from our human-to-human interactions.

    In this way, I think Christ’s message is really needed in the sates. I think we need to bring us back to a state where we are not sick spiritually, and can learn to heal ourselves through an interpersonal human narrative.

  3. I think it’s interesting that we claim to be a Christian nation in any sense – yes, we were founded by Christians, and yes, our population is largely Christian in title/identity, but how Christian are we in practice? We say we want to help the poor while we wait in line for the newest technology. We feel called to love one another while ostracizing those who disagree with us and fighting over the smallest disagreements. We spend more time being socially active because it’s trendy than because it’s right. We may be a Christian nation, but that’s only a title. Consider the fact that this country was built on the backs of slaves – have we ever truly been Christian? I suppose my final question is this: what are those who truly are Christian called to do to make this nation’s walk match its talk? And if that means continuing to shun those who aren’t Christian (by practice or by different beliefs), is that really the best thing for us?

  4. There have been many times in the seminar where we have accurately identified a problem, but I feel like we don’t have a satisfactory solution. This situation is no exception. Amy and Trevor have pointed out that the individualism of a consumer society has made our nation a less-Christian place. But how can we change that? Sure, we can do small things ourselves and encourage those around us; but we cannot restructure the government or our (world-wide) economic system. How can we fight something that large and that concrete? Furthermore, we cannot even agree on what view or form of Christianity to use. I guess a better way to state it is that we can’t agree on Christianity’s role or purpose in our society. So how are we supposed to implement it? Take this Notre Dame commencement situation as a good example. The last poll I saw said 57% of Catholics approve of President Obama but there is staunch opposition from the Church’s leaders. I would suggest that as Christians and U.S. citizens we could have a significant impact on the evolution of this democratic country. However, if we are fighting amongst ourselves, we cannot possibly expect to have an impact on the greater society.

    I agree with Rachel: Our walk needs to match our talk. But it seems that our talk is telling us to walk in too many different ways.

  5. I definitely do not think that Christian Americans should “stand and fight this evolution.” Christianity is centered on compassion, tolerance and nonviolence and to make any aggressive attempts at silencing the voice of others is a) going against the basic tenets of the very religion one is purporting to preserve and b) demonstrating the type of behavior the New Atheists (legitimately) criticize.

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