Check out Sam Haselby‘s 4th of July post at The Washington Post: “What politicians means when they say the United States was founded as a Christian nation?”
Here is a taste:
…today’s debate is rather stark, with Christian nationalists such as Pence and Sessions, or Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), committed to an evangelical Protestant vision that comes down to little more than pro-life politics, home schooling and rote patriotism. Anti-religious liberals, such as comedian Bill Maher, on the other hand, don’t know much about religion at all.
Why has such a vibrant debate dimmed to a litany of talking points? Partially, the answer is that American Christianity has changed. But more important, rather than a historical disagreement or a philosophical one, today’s argument about whether America was founded as a Christian nation is a political one. Arguing whether the United States was founded as a Christian nation is usually just a coded way of asserting about what kind of nation we want America to be. That’s a discussion worth having, and having it directly, without bad historical justifications — an endeavor America’s Founders could have respected.
It’s a nice piece. I encourage you to read Haselby’s The Origins of American Religious Nationalism.
Haselby’s piece reflects a position I have been arguing here and elsewhere for close to a decade and it drives home some of the fundamental questions and issues I have raised in both Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction and Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past. (And our current #ChristianAmerica tweetstorm!)
On Sasse: I have never heard him speak about Christian nationalism, but I have a hard time believing he accepts that view. It is possible to be conservative and reject the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. In fact, some of the best stuff written on the subject has come from folks in this camp.