"Evangelical and other church leaders of 50 or 100 years ago probably would have said America was both Christian and a missions field. But for many today, one seems to preclude the other." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President
Contact: Bart Gingerich, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, bgingerich@TheIRD.org
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- A recent poll of the approximately 100 board members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) found most denying America is a Christian nation.
"Much of the world refers to America as a Christian nation, but most of our Christian leaders don't think so," explained NAE President Leith Anderson in a news release. "The Bible only uses the word 'Christian' to describe people and not countries. Even those who say America is a Christian nation admit that there are lots of non-Christians and even anti-Christian beliefs and behaviors."
About 68 percent agreed America is not Christian while 32 said it is, according to the June 2012 Evangelical Leaders Survey. Both pro and con agreed America is a missions field.
Of the 32 percent who said the United States is a Christian nation, most indicated that they did so because America was founded with Christian principles or because there are more Christians here than other religionists.
The late public intellectual and Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus famously insisted: "America is, as it always has been, an incorrigibly, confusedly, and conflictedly Christian society."
IRD President Mark Tooley commented:
"Presumably the NAE poll made no effort to define what a 'Christian' nation is. Is it defined theocratically by law? Is it simply demographic? Or does it describe the sum total of culture, habits, history and attitude of a people?
"Evangelical and other church leaders of 50 or 100 years ago probably would have said America was both Christian and a missions field. But for many today, one seems to preclude the other.
"There is also some confusion over what a 'Christian' nation is, with some evangelical leaders seemingly persuaded by secularists that it can only mean a coercive theocracy.
"There is a persistent disposition of many cultural elites to ignore the large majorities of Americans who consistently profess to be religious and Christian.
"With about 75 - 80 percent of Americans saying they're Christian, America is about as demographically Christian as India is Hindu or Israel is Jewish. Even today only about 4 percent of Americans specifically identify with non-Christian religions."