Getting Beyond “The Myth of Christian America”

Martin E. Marty

in No Establishment of Religion

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199860371
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199950164 | DOI:
Getting Beyond “The Myth of Christian America”

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This chapter argues that the phrase “Christian America” is fraught with confusion. The Constitution itself implies nothing about Christianity and could equally serve as a constitution for countries with other than Christian-majority populations. Nevertheless, the Constitution and the Establishment Clause was the handiwork of people whose cultural assumptions and reference points emerged from a Christian-majority country. After the adoption of the Constitution, many mistakenly confused the demographic and historical facts that America had been a majority-Christian country with the ideological claim that the laws and institutions should support a “Christian America.” The latter is a myth that continues to affect, in an unhelpful way, public debates in the United States. It wrongly suggests that non-Christians are outsiders, aliens, or strangers in their own country, and inaccurately links contemporary political beliefs with religious beliefs and then argues that the disfavored political beliefs are “un-American” because they differ from the myth of a “Christian America.”

Keywords: Christian America; Constitution; Establishment Clause

Chapter.  7353 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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