Christian Nation Mythology

The late 20th and early 21st century has witnessed the rise of a new popular school of historical revisionism: the denial of separation of church and state, and the claim that America was founded as a Christian nation.

The proponents of this historical myth tend to be conservative Christians and politicians, with pseudo-historian David Barton serving as the figurehead of the movement. Although their claims are demonstrably false, the leaders of the Christian Nation myth movement have attained considerable clout in churches and statehouses alike.

To varying degrees, theocratic impulses under gird the Christian Nationalist movement. At the least, they seek to force the United States government to grant special privileges to evangelical Christians. A number of individuals and groups go further, seeking to impose a “biblical worldview” upon government. Many teach that democracy is undesirable (because it advocates human equality), and some are actively striving to replace America’s democracy with a theocracy.

While it is highly unlikely that Christian Nationalists will ever succeed in establishing a theocracy in America similar to the colonial American theocracies that persecuted and even killed dissenters (Christian or otherwise), dangers nonetheless lurk. Christian Nationalism imperils American society and culture, seeking to curtail or even abolish religious pluralism while enacting Old Testament morality into judicial legislation.

Many well-known Christian organizations and publications advance the Christian Nationalist agenda. For a listing of these organizations, click here.

Fortunately, a number of religious and historical organizations are doing good work in defending America’s heritage of religious liberty and separation of church and state, including the following:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Baptist History & Heritage Society
Baptist Joint Committee
First Amendment Center
Right Wing Watch (People For the American Way)

Finally, the following historians and lawyers are currently doing good work in terms of America’s heritage of religious liberty and separation of church and state:

Fred Anderson (Virginia Baptist Historical Society)
Randall Balmer (Barnard College)
Jimmy Byrd (Vanderbilt University)
Edwin Guastad (University of California)
John Ragosta (University of Virginia)
Walter Shurden (retired, Mercer University)
Stephen Stookey (Dallas Baptist University)
Brent Walker (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty)
Doug Weaver (Baylor University)
Michael Meyerson (University of Baltimore School of Law)