Close to half of Americans — 45% — believe the U.S. ought to be a “Christian nation,” according to new data collected by the Pew Research Center.
“That is a lot of people,” Greg Smith, one of the survey’s lead authors, told the Religion News Service. “[But] what people mean when they say they think the U.S. should be a Christian nation is really quite nuanced.”
Interestingly, a clear majority of those surveyed — 60% — believe the U.S. was, in fact, intended to be a Christian country. However, only 33% of respondents said the U.S. remains so today.
The data also revealed that about half of Americans — 47% — think Scripture should have “a great deal” or “some” influence on U.S. laws. And 27% of survey participants said, if the law and the Bible conflict, Scripture “should have more influence than the will of the people.”
Of those who believe the U.S. should be a Christian nation, 78% said the Bible “should have a great deal or some influence on U.S. laws.” Interestingly, 21% said Scripture should have “little or no influence.”
The new data comes as debate swirls over the ambiguous definition of “Christian nationalism.”
Dr. Michael Brown, a Christian apologist, recently spoke with CBN’s Faithwire about the oft-divisive topic, explaining that — in his view — “there’s a healthy Christian nationalism, there’s an unhealthy Christian nationalism, and there’s the boogie man Christian nationalism that the left has kind of exaggerated.”
“Healthy Christian nationalism would be, ‘I love Jesus and I love my country. Our country has strong Christian roots. Let’s recover those, because that’s in the best interest of the country,'” he said, noting he doesn’t see “a contradiction between loving America and being a Christian.”
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Brown went on to explain, however, that such a perspective becomes unhealthy and dangerous if people begin to conflate their American and Christian identities.
“Unhealthy Christian nationalism … is the merging of American identity with Christian identity,” he explained. “[T]he idea that America is kind of like ancient Israel, with a special covenant with God. And, therefore, we must be Christian, that it’s a certain destiny and that … you want to make Christianity the religion of the nation.”
That “blurring of politics with the Gospel” can become problematic, he elaborated.
“When the things get blurred — the kingdom of God gets too mingled with the kingdom of the world — that’s a concern,” said Brown. “The moment we forget that America is a fallen nation like every other nation and that the church is God’s people in the midst of the nation and the midst of all nations — the moment we forget that and think of America as somehow equaling the kingdom of God, or that God will uniquely back America because America’s ‘a Christian nation’ — that’s where we lose our perspective.”
Watch our full conversation with Brown in the video below:
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