New research survey shows Americans don’t like Christian nationalism, do support the separation of church and state
A new Pew Research Center survey “explor(ing) Americans’ attitudes about the role of religion in public life” reveals that only 5% of Americans hold a favorable view of Christian nationalism, while just over half remain unaware of it altogether, despite growing public attention to the term over the course of this year. The survey, conducted in September, asked thousands of respondents who had heard of it to describe in their own words what it means to them:
Many describe “Christian nationalism” in terms of Christian dominance in society, while others associate the concept with racism, authoritarianism, bigotry and exclusion. A smaller portion of Americans describe it as the positive influence of faith and morals in society.
The findings suggest that once they are sufficiently introduced to the concept, most Americans see clearly the dangers of Christian nationalism and know better than to merge patriotism and faith. Along those same lines, the survey finds that 77% of Americans believe that houses of worship should refrain from endorsing political candidates, while 67% want religious institutions to steer clear of political issues. As Pew summarizes, “there is far more support for the idea of separation of church and state than opposition to it among Americans overall.”
Still, as election day approaches, many candidates and activists are turning to the pulpit and overtly Christian nationalist appeals in an attempt to win votes. In a striking new report, NC Policy Watch described the organized efforts of The American Renewal Project to host political rallies during worship services. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Working closely with the state GOP, its candidates and top elected officials, The American Renewal Project has held these events across North Carolina for years. This election season, the group brought Republican candidates ranging from county commissioner races to U.S. Senate candidate Ted Budd, to local churches for campaign speeches … .
The stated goal: to eliminate the idea of a separation of church and state and make the group’s conservative interpretation of Christianity the guiding force in government policy and public schools.
As BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler explained to NC Policy Watch, Baptists are uniquely positioned to combat Christian nationalism:
“There is a 400 year old tradition of Baptists standing up for everyone’s religious freedom by insisting on the separation of church and state,” Tyler told Policy Watch this week. “This is a long Baptist tradition based on Baptist experience as a persecuted minority in the original colonies — but also a matter of theology. We believe in freedom, soul freedom — no government or king should come between a person and his or her authentic relationship with God.”
A government’s prioritizing one religion over another or over the sincerely held beliefs of those who are not religious was something the founding fathers guarded against, Tyler said, in order to ensure religious liberty and the government’s liberty from religious tyranny.
As the Pew Research Center survey shows, once they are educated on Christian nationalism Americans soundly reject it and prefer the institutions of church and state to remain separate. BJC is leading the fight against Christian nationalism, and we need your help to educate more Americans about the dangers of the ideology.
If you are a Christian, you can make your voice heard on this critical issue by joining the nearly 30,000 Christians who have signed on to the Christians Against Christian Nationalism statement. The website also has resources that can be used by everyone for education, to share on social media, and to facilitate small group discussions and personal reflection.