Christian America? Religious America?

There has been much ado about the recent Glen Beck Rally in Washington.  This rally was promoted as an ecumenical gathering with diverse religious traditions represented and participating on the platform.  Though it was characterized as a rally advocating the need to restore America’s honor and the organizers and speakers claimed that it was a ”non-political” gathering, you’ll have to forgive me if I smile a bit at that characterization. 

Since when have Americans been able to successfully separate religion and politics?  Regardless of all our firm and strident language about the so called “separation of church and state” (which by the way is not language found in the Constitution), name me a political campaign in the last fifty years that did not raise religious issues and or invoke God’s providential concern for this nation as a statement of fact?  I am not sure that one could be a serious presidential candidate and fail to address the religious zeitgeist so embedded in our national consciousness

The point is, we have been intentionally mixing together religion and politics from this nation’s earliest years and I can find nothing in our recent history suggesting that we are prepared to stop now.  If anything, the uncritical blending of religious sentiments and symbols with political rhetoric has increased over the past forty years. 

Events like the Glen Beck Rally are causing some commentators to ask this question, is Christianity the religion of the nation or is America’s religion some monotheistic generic blend that when taken with enough cream and sugar can satisfy the vast majority of the population?

Starting next week I will be podcasting my course on The History of Christianity in America.  This course will seek to address the following questions:  What does American religion tell us about American culture? and What does American culture tell us about American religion? 

I would encourage you to visit the website (, join the class via podcasts, and take part in the discussion via the website’s FAQ section.

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