Truly Christian and Truly American Can Both Be True

By Steve Berman Published on February 3, 2017

I see a lot of journalists shocked that roughly a third of Americans believe that Christianity is a key to being “truly American,” according to a recent Pew poll. Compared to, say, Sweden, that’s a huge number.

Liberals don’t like to think that what makes someone “American” looks very much like what makes someone Christian.

Pew Religion

Were you to look at the whole of a people and their history of giving, fighting for freedom and liberty around the world, accepting all comers who share those values (and many who don’t), governed under a principle of natural law derived from our Creator, you would see a Biblical template beneath it.

You would also see the people of the United States of America fitting that template. People who look through a purely political lens see Christianity as something to hide behind, masking motives like racism and xenophobia. Liberals have so rewritten history to fit their own narrative and philosophy that they can’t see a connection that expresses itself so naturally from many Americans who aren’t hung up on race identity politics.

I don’t think the people who answered the Pew survey were thinking, “Americans must be church-attending, white, Protestants.” I think they were thinking “what values make us American?”

The obvious things that tie people to a nationality — common language, customs and traditions — are shared by many countries (except, it seems, Sweden). Faith is where most countries differ on national identity. Greeks maintain the strongest ties to religion, and given the Greek Orthodox Church, that makes sense. Third on the list is the U.S., by far the largest, most pluralistic nation to tie faith closely to national identity.

But why? This is where the great philosophical divide, along with differing views of American history, is exposed.

Julie Zauzmer at the Washington Post suggested it might be related to political ideology and the particular brand of Christianity with which Americans associate.

One’s own religion also strongly affected the answers: Pew found that 57 percent of white evangelical Protestants thought it was very important to be Christian in order to be American, while 29 percent of white mainline Protestants, 27 percent of Catholics and just 9 percent of people unaffiliated with a faith felt the same way.

Kathryn Casteel at FiveThirtyEight posited that the attitudes regarding what makes one feel “American” strongly correlates with one’s support for, or opposition to, President Donald Trump.

There was also a partisan divide: Around 43 percent of Republicans surveyed by Pew felt that Christianity was an important part of being an American, versus 29 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of independents. Exit polls show Trump won 80 percent of white born-again and evangelical Christian voters and smaller majorities among all other denominations of Christianity.

Is a Christian-based view of America a racist view? Is it related to being a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASP)?

Certainly a poll could be interpreted that way based on who answered which way. But Democrats, African Americans and Hispanic Americans believed that “sharing American customs and traditions were very important, and 70 percent of all Americans believed that speaking English was very important to national identity.

Pew AmericanI submit that it’s not racist, nor is it ignorant to believe that Christianity is inimitably tied to Americanism.

American government is founded on the principle of natural law, which is derived from God as the creator and father of all moral law. Our rights in pluralistic America do not derive from the heredity of monarchs, or the consent of the State, or the majority opinion of its citizens. Our rights are inherent and granted by God.

Engraved on the Statue of Liberty, poet Emma Lazarus wrote “Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.” Some have cited these words as proof that those who seek to protect America are either not Christian, or those who claim Christianity cannot also claim America.

They have it wrong. Truly, they have it backwards.

It’s not that to be truly American, one must first be a Christian. It’s that if one is truly American, and understands true Christianity, looking in the mirror of “American” you find “Christian.” It’s not because of who we call ourselves, it’s because of what we do, what we believe and how we act toward others.

America truly is a Christian nation, because those who understand both correctly realize that one could not exist without the other.

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