Let me preface this article by laying some things on the table. I am an evangelical Christian, a Constitutional conservative and totally American. I have grown up my whole life going to church and it's more than a family practice; it is a personal choice for me. I don’t exaggerate when I say I love my country and everything for which its history stands. However, I’m noticing some bad habits in the Christian churches of America. Allow me to explain by providing some historical context…
The Founding Fathers were not all Christians. There, I said it. No doubt, many conservative readers are angry and most liberal readers are clapping (Please read on; you might be surprised). The general claim is that most of them were Deists, but that is incorrect. A few held deistic world views (e.g. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, etc.), but men like George Washington proved themselves devout Christians. Founding Fathers did believe in the separation of church and state, though not as you might expect. America was never meant to be a secluded society for Christians only. But America was predominantly Christian at the time, and to say that there was not a major Christian influence on the founding of our nation is to display a lack of historical knowledge. The context of that time in history was that nearly all people were religious, most of them Christian. You can read Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789 where he references the “Almighty God.” Our nation was meant for all people, but the founders recognized the benefits that many biblical principles would have on the guidance of a government.
Therefore, I want to put down my thoughts on the majority of Christians in America. Many conservative Christians treat the United States like a second “Promised Land” (the first being Israel, of course). The “promised land” for Christians is Heaven, God’s dwelling. The Christian Bible supports this claim: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). The ultimate home for Christians is not America or any other country on earth; it’s Heaven. Thus, there can’t rightly be any national snobbery among American Christians. If the final home for all Christians is a spiritual place, then no nation on earth is more Christian than another. So whether or not the Founding Fathers were influenced by Christianity is irrelevant in this sense, though I still place great historical and social importance on that issue.
Because a good number of American Christians believe the United States is a spiritual promised land, some problems arise from that premise. In this mindset, Christians often do two things. First, they criticize anyone who doesn’t act according to Christian principles. Second, they believe the government must be entirely "Christianized." Let me speak to these two courses of action.
First, Christians have no right to expect a non-Christian to behave like a believer. If someone holds a non-Christian worldview, of course they won’t always act in accordance with Judeo-Christian beliefs. America is a place where all citizens may act how they wish, as long as they obey the laws and don’t trample the rights of others. But on the other hand, sharing the Christian faith is also part of Christianity. In the Bible, Jesus Christ is recorded as instructing His followers to tell everyone about their hope in Him. Christians have every legal right to share their faith with others, just as any other religion.
Second, I have already established that America is not a country meant for Christians alone. With that fact in mind, it’s logical to assume that not every politician will be a Christian. Do we all want our politicians to do what will benefit the nation? Do we want politicians who have good morals? Of course! But people can be moral without being Christian (though, as one myself, I do believe Christians have a different way of approaching morality than an atheist, for example). Christians cannot say that God has called them to create a government based solely on the Bible. The Bible was meant to govern the church and believers. Our founders borrowed many biblical principles, but America cannot follow every biblical principle because America is not the Christian church.
A final warning to American Christians is to prioritize. As I mentioned earlier, Christians have been told to share their faith. This is an important mandate, and it is one that should not be brushed aside. We can advocate for the great beliefs and people that have made America, but the primary job of a Christian is to witness Jesus Christ, not America.Let me end with two quotes for both conservative and liberal readers, Christian or not, to contemplate. John Adams wrote, “We have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (See “Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull” (New York, 1848), pp 265-6 ) Theologian Albert Mohler, who I greatly respect, said, “America is not a Christian nation by constitution or charter. There has never been a time when all Americans were Christians or that Christian identity could be assumed as evangelical." The foundation of the United States does borrow Christian principles, but we are not a nation made for only Christians.