Prompted by our “Insert Catchy Title Here” debate between Dr. Michael Trice and Rabbi Anson Laytner, David Bell responds to the topic discussing the idea of nation and what it means to be the United States, what it means to be America, and what it means to be the United States of America.
By: David Bell
“Are we a Christian nation or a nation of Christians?” As Dr. Trice noted, “The key word here is nation.” To answer the question we must first be clear, what is nation? Language in the United States often uses the term America as if it is the same as United States. America though, is a landscape of soil, wind, plants, water, animals, and humans. Whereas, the United States is a social and legal structure residing, with other social and legal structures, in the midst of the American landscape. It is this social and federal republic legal structure called United States of America, which is nation.
We often do not think the United States a Christian nation because we do not experience the intimate relationship between Church and State—European Christendom—from which pilgrims and puritans separated. We often support this feeling because of the Constitution’s First Amendment. After all, if the U.S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” surely, no one religion can dominate the social and legal structure of a nation. Right?