Growing numbers of religious and political leaders are embracing the “Christian nationalist” label, and some dispute the idea that the country’s founders wanted a separation of church and state. On the other side of the debate, however, many Americans – including the leaders of many Christian churches – have pushed back against Christian nationalism, calling it a “danger” to the country.Most U.S. adults believe America’s founders intended the country to be a Christian nation, and many say they think it should be a Christian nation today, according to a new Pew Research Center survey designed to explore Americans’ views on the topic. But the survey also finds widely differing opinions about what it means to be a “Christian nation” and to support “Christian nationalism.”
For instance, many supporters of Christian nationhood define the concept in broad terms, as the idea that the country is guided by Christian values. Those who say the United States should not be a Christian nation, on the other hand, are much more inclined to define a Christian nation as one where the laws explicitly enshrine religious teachings.
Among those who say the U.S. should be a Christian nation, roughly three-in-ten (28%) said in March 2021 that “the federal government should declare the U.S. a Christian nation,” while half (52%) said the federal government “should never declare any particular religion as the official religion of the United States.”
Similarly, among those who say in the new survey that the U.S. should be a Christian nation, only about a quarter (24%) said in the prior survey that the federal government should advocate Christian religious values. About twice as many (52%) said the government should “advocate for moral values that are shared by people of many faiths.”
And three-in-ten U.S. adults who want the U.S. to be a Christian nation (31%) said in the March 2021 survey that the federal government should stop enforcing the separation of church and state. More took the opposite position, saying the federal government should enforce that separation (39%).
Furthermore, the new survey finds that nearly eight-in-ten people who say the U.S. should be a Christian nation also say the Bible should have at least some influence on U.S. laws, including slightly more than half (54%) who say that when the Bible conflicts with the will of the people, the Bible should prevail.