Is America a Christian Nation?

ABC-CLIO, Enduring Questions, Academic Solutions database, 2011)
[ABC-CLIO’s Academic Solutions database is made available to  instructors teaching college-level essay writing. For each topic, several perspectives are presented to show students how to espouse and argue for a point of view. Following are brief excerpts from my 3,000-word take on this issue.]

America: Christian Majority, Pluralist Nation

by Annie Rehill

The United States of America, even though most of its population is Christian, cannot be described as a “Christian nation”: the situation is far more complex and dynamic.

…The University of Arizona’s American Indian Studies Program was established to promote better understanding of sovereign and distinct American Indian and Alaskan native groups. The program explores these issues from an Indian perspective—within the context of an institution dominated by the culture that invaded and almost destroyed American Indians. This illustrates the current focus among leading native organizations: look forward, not back. Doing so entails, of necessity, the democratic work of ongoing multicultural cooperative efforts.

This embrace of the world as it stands and the egalitarian process in action can be observed in exhibitions across the country, from Washington, D.C.’s National Museum of the American Indian to small museums throughout the West and Southwest. The emphasis is not on the pogrom that began with the European arrival (though that is not ignored), but on native survival and adaptation to the modern world, most saliently education and economic opportunities.

…Today, many Indians are Christians because they have chosen this faith. All are not, nor are they forced to be. The American ethos is marked by its colonial roots, but…the largely Protestant worldview has gradually been pried open at its psychological seams by the same phenomenon that granted freedom of religion to the original refugees and outcasts: legal guarantees.

That was originally not enough. But international mingling, cultural exchanges, and immigration have brought not only tension and division in some geographic areas…but also…increasing awareness and acceptance of different ways of thinking and living. Radically conservative elements of the U.S. population continue to gain periodic distressing cultural ascendancy, evidenced in trends such as resistance to the construction of a Muslim mosque near the World Trade Center, but overall, globalization eventually brings more international awareness and tolerance.