Early in American history, various states had established religions. Well, the established religions all were Christian, but there were different branches of Christianity dominant in this or that state.
European countries, of course, had established religions, which is one reason the early American settlers left Europe. They wanted no such thing or they wanted their brand of Christianity to be the established faith.
Eventually, thank God, the nation's founders understood that for their to be true religious freedom there cannot be an established church. The U.S. Constitution reflects that wise choice. And it was and remains wise not just for government but also for religion.
For its part, government avoids the problem of enforcing and supporting an established faith financially, while faith communities are free to preach whatever they want to without government oversight.
Which makes it so hard to understand why a new poll shows that 57 percent of Republicans agree that Christianity should be the established religion of the U.S. This reflects historical ignorance and it reflects doubts about the strength of Christianity to stand on its own two feet without government help.
You see similar doubts in many predominantly Islamic countries, especially those with blasphemy laws. Such laws are an indication that those who pass them fear Islam is not strong enough to defend itself on its own.
To make Christianity the established religion of the U.S. not only would be a slap in the face of the millions of non-Christian Americans, it would be a slap in the face of Christianity itself. Let the government worry about the flag and the eagle. In turn, let us Christians worry about the cross and Nativity Scenes.
If more than half of all Republicans really favor establishment status for Christianity it's an indication that our efforts to educate citizens about religious freedom, the role of government and the role of religion have failed miserably. How sad that so many people want to vote against their own self-interest by establishing their faith as the only government-supported one.
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A CHANGING RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE
A new annual survey by the Public Religion Research Institute confirms recent trends. Among them: Protestants no longer constitute a majority of Americans and the number of people who identify as religiously unaffiliated is growing. If we're walking around with a different picture of faith in America in our heads, we'd better undo it and bring the picture up to reality. The link I've given you can help you recreate that picture.