Photo Credit: Carolyn Baker
The First Amendment guarantees both the free practice of religion and the non-establishment of religion by the federal government. President John Adams made clear by signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796 that "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." But what do residents of the United States of America believe in?
Half of residents in 11 Southern states believe that America was founded as an explicitly Christian nation, a recent Winthrop University poll found.
The Winthrop University Poll randomly dialed and questioned 969 residents in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia between November 10th to December 2nd. Results have an error margin of plus or minus 3.15 percent.
The poll found that half of residents either agree or strongly agree that America was founded as an explicitly Christian nation.
Specifically, 51% of people polled said the U.S. was founded as an “explicitly Christian nation.” Note that 67% of Republicans are included in that mix, compared to only 38% of Democrats. (By contrast, only 23% of Republicans disagreed or strongly disagreed with that sentiment, along with 52% of Democrats.)
According to the Post and Courier, the Rev. Dr. Kevin Baird, a conservative who pastors Charleston Legacy Church in West Ashley said he thought there would have been less agreement among Southerners on whether the nation was founded as a Christian country. “I’m surprised in a good way,” Baird said. “My presumption would have been that there would have been less that would have agreed with that. I’m heartened that I would have been wrong.”
On the other hand, there are also people who disagree with these claims.
The Rev. Joseph Darby, first vice president for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Charleston, disagreed with claims that the country was intended to be explicitly Christian.
Darby, who also pastors Nichols Chapel AME in Charleston, didn’t mince words in describing Christian nationalists and white evangelical denominations with exclusionary views on immigration and multiculturalism. “It’s called Christian hypocrisy,” Darby said.
“If the laws reflect that, we’d be one nation under all,” he said. “If you have something that’s exclusively Christian, you’re walking a very slippery, nationalist slope. Everyone in America is not Christian.”
Of course, the country — especially one that is so multicultural — should not be in favor in one particular religion (or lack thereof).