S5, Ep. 17: The presidency and Christian nationalism

A look at history and presidential statements about our country’s commitment to be a faith freedom nation.

Feb 22, 2024

Presidents have made broad appeals to our country without dividing along religious belief throughout American history. Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman look at presidential leadership and talk about how our country’s founding documents set up our system of government that does not create a “Christian nation” in any sort of legal sense – rather, it ensures freedom of religion and freedom from a state establishment of religion. They also talk about why people like to claim we are a “Christian nation” and the reasons that is a problematic statement.

Segment 1 (starting at 00:38): Religious freedom at the founding

Learn more about the celebration of the holiday known as Washington’s Birthday from the National Archives

Amanda and Holly mentioned this article by Peter Smith for the Associated Press: Many believe the founders wanted a Christian America. Some want the government to declare one now. He also wrote this piece with some frequently asked questions.

Amanda mentioned a book she is writing that will come out later this year, which is titled How to End Christian Nationalism.

Watch Holly’s video answering the question “Is America a Christian nation?” at this link.

The Rev. Jennifer Hawks wrote this piece about Article VI for Baptist News Global: How the Constitution’s original religious freedom guarantee almost didn’t happen

Amanda spoke with historian Steven Green in 2019 for this episode of our podcast series on the dangers of Christian nationalism: We were founded as a Christian nation?

Michael Meyerson is the author of Endowed by our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America. You can read more about his 2014 lectures – given for the Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures on Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State – in this recap

The BJC Fellows Program is open to all young professionals interested in deepening their historical, legal and theological understanding of religious liberty. The deadline to apply for the 2024 class is March 1 – visit BJConline.org/Fellows to learn more and apply. 

Segment 2 (starting at 24:21): Words from previous presidents

Click here to visit BJC’s website page with a few quotes from Founders, presidents, and Baptists about the relationship between church and state. The quotes include links or citations to the original source material.


Segment 3 (starting at 33:20): What now?

Respecting Religion is made possible by BJC’s generous donors. You can support these conversations with a gift to BJC.


Transcript: Season 5, Episode 17: The presidency and Christian nationalism (some parts of this transcript have been edited for clarity)

Segment 1: Religious freedom at the founding (starting at 00:38)

AMANDA: Welcome to Respecting Religion, a BJC podcast series where we look at religion, the law, and what’s at stake for faith freedom today. I’m Amanda Tyler, executive director of BJC.

HOLLY: And I’m general counsel Holly Hollman. Today we’re going to talk about religion and the presidency. Monday was Presidents Day, and we observed the federal holiday. And today we want to connect this occasion to the work that we do day to day and the challenges we face in fighting against Christian nationalism.

I know before we dive into Presidents Day that this day has other major significance for you.

AMANDA: Yes, Holly. My only child, my son, was born on Washington’s birthday, February 22, which is the day that we are releasing this podcast, and that has always felt very cool to us, that he was born in Washington, D.C., on Washington’s birthday and has created some — I don’t know — maybe some presidential aspirations for him in the long term.

I’ll say this is our first birthday to celebrate with him while we are living in Texas, and I’m reminded of what it’s like to be in a Texas February. It’s going to be 80 degrees on his birthday, so —

HOLLY: Nice.

AMANDA: — not exactly seasonal but quite festive here for us. So thanks for remembering.

HOLLY: Yeah. Well, I hope it’s a wonderful time of celebration for your family. And you’ve got a President Washington kid at your house. I’ve got a son’s birthday connected to President Lincoln. Although it’s not his birthday, but the day that President Lincoln got shot, and let me tell you: that coincidence with history also inspired some early childhood fascination. Parents and others who spend time with children understand that. But that’s a fun fact, that you and I have kids connected to these presidents as we celebrate Presidents Day.

So back to the nation’s acknowledgment of these presidents, and it’s interesting to think about how we have holidays around their birthdays and maybe how that’s a part of our not only celebrating our history but a little bit of myth-making about the importance of presidents.

The federal government officially started celebrating Washington’s birthday as a holiday in 1879. Apparently Americans celebrated it long before Congress declared it a federal holiday, and as you know, President Washington’s birthday was February 22, and in 1968, Congress passed a Monday holiday law to provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays, so we use the third Monday of February as Presidents Day.

AMANDA: You know, I learn something every time we do this podcast, Holly. I guess we have Congress to thank for some more three-day weekends, so thank you, Congress, and I learned about your son’s connection to President Lincoln. President Lincoln’s birthday is February 12, but fun fact: Neither Congress nor the president has ever stipulated that the name of the holiday be changed to Presidents Day. So that’s just something that we’ve picked up, I guess, along the way, to be more inclusive of all the presidents that we celebrate in February.

So let’s talk about presidential leadership. I think it’s fair to say that we need leadership that promotes our founding document, our constitutional guarantees, including the guarantee of religious freedom for all people. That’s the promise for people of all faith traditions and people of no faith tradition, that they will all be treated as equal citizens under the law.

We also want and need presidential leadership that counters Christian nationalism, this poisonous and longstanding ideology that tries to merge our identities as Americans and Christians.

HOLLY: Absolutely. And we often talk about being alarmed about the way Christian nationalism is affecting elections, including particularly recent and current presidential elections. But on this episode, let’s look at presidents as leaders of our country from the standpoint of history and the “Christian nation” myths that cause real damage to what we at BJC call our faith freedom nation.

We see a lot of armchair historians out there who like to cherry-pick quotes from history to buttress their preferred idea, particularly that the United States was founded to be a, quote, “Christian nation,” close quote, in some legal sense. We know that history is complex and can teach us a lot. We appreciate the serious, well-trained historians and teachers that remind us of that. But so many of those who use history to promote Christian nationalism leave out some very obvious counter-evidence, like the founding documents.

AMANDA: Right. Like the text itself rather than this cherry-picked history. Yeah. We can and really often do look at statements from history to explore context and also the myths, but we can come back to what the Framers actually put in the documents that created our system of government, and that is important, as is what we need from leadership today.

HOLLY: Of course, and that should be our focus. I find it strange, too, that those who push the “Christian nation” narrative often gloss over how modern and even earlier presidents and other elected officials can and often do make really broad appeals to our country, to citizens, without dividing us by religious beliefs and without denying the faithful religious practices of many Americans. So obviously it can be done and is done.

But I guess that’s the whole nature of cherry-picking, so, anyway, we’ll get into those examples. But let’s start from the beginning time frame. Fortuitously, we saw an article a few days ago that came out, perhaps to coincide with Presidents Day by AP’s Peter Smith, and it has one of those gotcha headlines that said, “Many believe the founders wanted a Christian nation. Some want the government to declare one now.”

Okay. Well, that title got my attention, and as I reviewed it, I saw that it addresses a lot of polling about how people want the United States to be declared a “Christian nation” and a lot of ideas and things, Amanda, that we at BJC have talked about and think about and that you particularly have explored in our work promoting our campaign, Christians Against Christian Nationalism, so as I read it, I wondered: What did you think about the article as a Presidents Day piece at a time when you’ve been so focused on Christian nationalism?

AMANDA: Yeah. And it comes also, Holly, as I’ve been working on putting some of the finishing touches on a book that’s coming out later this year called How to End Christian Nationalism, and —

HOLLY: Woo-hoo!

AMANDA: — and in the book, I encourage people — a little preview here. The book will be released on October 22, but a little preview that I really encourage people to counter some of these myths of a “Christian nation.”

So I had very top of mind some of these common ideas, some of the polling around it, and I thought that Peter Smith’s article really did a good job as a round-up. And so I would encourage it, and we’re going to link in show notes. We’ll also link to kind of a frequently asked questions — Q&A — shorter piece that I think is a really helpful one to share.

But in addition, I really appreciated the comments from Dr. Anthea Butler in the piece. She is an expert on history, and she called the America as a “Christian nation” idea a “trope of exclusion.” And I really thought that was an excellent way to describe it, because as she says, “It centers American history on white Anglo-Saxon Protestants as the ones that are willing and should be running the country both then and now.” And that’s really one of the best summations, I think, of the danger of “Christian nation” mythology.

You know, I mean, it can seem innocuous at first blush, but when you really think about all the assumptions and the messaging and what’s behind all of that, it is exclusive and something that I think is dangerous to our sense of belonging and to safety, frankly, in America today for people who don’t belong in that very narrow category of people.

HOLLY: Yeah. I think that’s a great way of connecting this historical problem, this story, this myth, the things that we tell, that we think of as just a matter of history and education to what is super important to our country today and what we’re struggling with.

AMANDA: I will say, you know, one thing. Behind every myth there’s some truth. Right? It doesn’t come out of nowhere. And so I think demographically — and we’ve put some materials out on this in the past, and I’m thinking in particular of a really helpful video that you did, Holly, on, “Is America a Christian nation?” —

HOLLY: [Laughter] What do you mean?

AMANDA: — and we can link in show notes to that really helpful, short description of that as well.

But demographically, yes. And at the founding period, very much so — with a big asterisk. You know, the first census in 1790 counted citizens, and it doesn’t take into account the Indigenous population that practiced other religions. It doesn’t take into account the religiosity of the enslaved population, which had a lot of religious pluralism in it.

And it also was taken at a time right after the Colonial period when we had established religion, and so people didn’t have much of a choice about whether they were going to be belonging to the majority tradition or not. And so I think, you know, in some of the research that I was reviewing for the book, it could be estimated that up to 98 percent of those who were counted — again, not everyone — but those who were counted, up to 98 percent were white Protestants, but that doesn’t mean that they were all religious in certain way, that they were all devout. There’s a lot of nuance.

And I also appreciated that line from historian Dr. John Fea in the piece, that there’s a lot of nuance and complexity that’s needed to understand the history of this period.

HOLLY: You know, your point about how much of the population could be called “Christian” at the time then raises the question: Okay, so then what? With that understanding of the make-up of the population, what did they do? And if we look at the documents, we can say that, emphatically they did not set up a Christian nation legally.

AMANDA: That’s right. And that’s my favorite way to counter the Christian nation myth is to say, Let’s go to the text. Let’s go to the text of the Constitution itself, the original Constitution, where Christian and Christianity are not at all mentioned. God is not mentioned. Jesus is not mentioned. The only reference to religion or religious is in Article VI, which prohibits religious tests for public office.

So these Framers — some of whom were presidents that we celebrate on Presidents Day — they were wise people. If they wanted to set up a Christian nation, they could have done so. They did not. In fact, they set up a system where religion would not be a qualification for holding public office.

HOLLY: There was some debate about it, because there were religious tests in many of the Colonies, and we do have a record of people making arguments for and against a religious test. And we will put in the show notes an article that our colleague Jennifer Hawks wrote for Baptist News Global about, “How the Constitution’s original religious freedom guarantee almost didn’t happen.”

So it’s something we should think about — we should reflect on that — this is not an accident that the Founders adopted this “no religious test” clause. It meant something after considerable debate. And particularly she points out that the most ardent supporters of Article VI defended it by pointing out that a religious test for federal office undermines religious freedom for all, and that religious liberty should be one of the cornerstones for the new democracy.

So she says that, you know, today we just take for granted that, of course, you don’t have to pass a religious test to run for public office, but the fierce debate centuries ago shows us that it was not a foregone conclusion. “Our Founders made an intentional choice,” she notes, “to break with tradition and lay a foundation for the faith freedom nation that they envisioned.”

AMANDA: That’s right. And their vision was somewhat limited, very limited in many ways, by their racism. In that same founding document, they continued to make legal slavery. So we know that freedom was not the kind of expansive freedom that we yearn for today. And yet, in their more limited version of freedom, they said, no religious test for public office and did not establish a Christian nation.

HOLLY: And the story goes on. That wasn’t enough for the ratification of the Constitution, but instead there was a debate over the addition of particular protections for religious freedom that led to what we now call the Bill of Rights, particularly as we focus on the First Amendment that protects religious freedom for all, that phrase that says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” that we so cleverly named this podcast after.

And we want to respect that vision of the Founders that really placed religion in a different category, that noted that religious liberty had a special place that should be noted based upon the historical record and its importance to individuals.

AMANDA: And so with that, maybe we can get more into particularly what some of the views of some of those early presidents were and some of the other Framers of the Constitution and how we can reconcile the mythology of the “Christian nation” that was created in some way and really expounded upon in some way during that very period with the documents which had a very different vision for how religion and government would relate in this democracy.

HOLLY: Of course, those first 16 words of the First Amendment is usually where we start when we talk about religious freedom and what kind of government we have and how it protects religious freedom without being some kind of religious document or particularly some kind of Christian document.

We often hear people talk about the Declaration of Independence language that mentions our Creator, and that’s significant. It’s something that we can look at and understand about a mindset of the Framers at the time, but that is distinct from the founding documents on which we base our system of government directly, which purposefully set up a secular government.

AMANDA: That’s right, Holly. And back in 2019 when we first launched the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign, I hosted a ten-part podcast series, talking about the dangers of Christian nationalism, and one of those episodes was focused on history and this question of, were we founded as a Christian nation. And in that episode, I talked with historian and lawyer Steve Green about this question.

And the historical record does not look like the early presidents and other early officeholders banished religion from the public square. In fact, they often used quite a bit of religious rhetoric in their public speeches. But just because they use religious rhetoric doesn’t mean that they were trying to privilege Christianity in law and policy, or to exclude other religions from the public square.

And so, you know, he really encouraged in that episode, asking why was religious rhetoric being used, that, you know, these were people running for office. They were trying to appeal to people and to a common language that maybe everyone understood. And at that time, the Bible was the book that was the most popular book in people’s homes. It was common language for people to refer to, and so there were other reasons, other than trying to indoctrinate or trying to have government be a religious body that people might use — not just people, but presidents and other officeholders might use religion in their public speeches.

HOLLY: We’ll link to that podcast episode, which, I agree, Amanda, it’s really helpful to hear from Professor Green. And speaking of friends of BJC that do a good job helping us explain history, we should also note Professor Michael Meyerson, a constitutional expert who’s at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

We often call on Professor Meyerson. He’s the author of a book called Endowed by Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America, which looks at the Framers’ push to make religious liberty a bedrock of the United States. And he particularly helps us understand some of the language that George Washington used that really could help us understand how to look at early statements of American presidents.

AMANDA: Yes. We know Professor Meyerson well. He was the lecturer at a BJC event in 2014, and since then, he joins us each summer in Colonial Williamsburg for our BJC Fellows Seminar which is a program for young professionals. Professor Meyerson is passionate about this topic and passionate about sharing it with our Fellows each summer, really dispelling some of these myths. And he talks in his lectures about research that was new to him when he was writing his book about the role that Baptists played during the founding period, so, of course, Holly, we love that.

HOLLY: We love surprising people. Hey, you know, you carry a label like Baptist, it’s got to happen. And, in fact, our Fellows’ application process is open right now, so if you’re interested in being a BJC Fellow and joining the class of Fellows for 2024, go to our website and learn more about this program, and you, too, can have a deep understanding of faith freedom for all, the historical record, and what it means to support religious freedom today and to become an advocate wherever you are.

He also gave our — it was our 2014 Shurden Lectures, Amanda, I think that you were mentioning, and I know that we have a recap of those lectures on our website. We’ll link to that as well.

And in those lectures, he’s stressed this point that contemporary Americans who cite these isolated quotes by the nation’s Founders to buttress arguments in favor of a Christian nation or in favor of a totally, you know, secular society without religious influences really misinterpret history, and they do an injustice to those who framed the U.S. Constitution, and I would say, you know, to us in current America who have the rights and responsibilities and interest in ensuring that we live into the best and most protective promises of the Founders’ vision.

He said that America’s Founders sought to strike an equilibrium in the relationship of church and state. “The cherry-pickers have forced people into camps,” and he says, that creates this false division that the Founders never intended.

To be fair, he notes that some early American patriots, such as Patrick Henry, advocated for state support of religion, but also that the key Founders — George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison — held a sophisticated view that saw the value of religious commitment by citizens. So they understand religion’s important and they recognize that, but they also were very aware and pointed out the danger of sectarian division that would emerge from the wedding of church and state.

AMANDA: We’re talking about Presidents Day here today, so, you know, when I think about George Washington — and George Washington in many ways emerges as the hero of Professor Meyerson’s book. You know, we talk so much about Thomas Jefferson and James Madison because of their role in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and then eventually — which was the precursor in many ways to the First Amendment text. But George Washington as the first president did talk a lot about religious freedom and was very careful in his public remarks about being inclusive in the way that he talked about religion in the public square.

And so there’s some irony here that in my conversation with Professor Green, he talked about some of this Christian nation mythology came around in that period after, in the generation after the Founders, that this new country was looking for some legitimacy on the world stage, and so they turned George Washington into a Moses figure and used that language explicitly that linked God’s providential hand to the founding of the country and infused this religious significance into these secular figures, after their death. Right?

And so there’s not — that kind of goes into the hagiography of our presidents that I think is really dangerous in many ways, that these were people. These were fallible people. These were not people who were instruments of God. They weren’t here doing religious business. They were doing secular business in leading the United States, and they were very clear about that, and it was after the fact in a lot of these cultural writings and artwork that have, I think, really misrepresented their legacy and that we’re still living with the fruits of that mythology today.

HOLLY: Exactly. And as Meyerson shows us, they understood that things were complex. They didn’t try to eliminate all discussion of God and religion from the public sphere. If they could do it, you know, you would think that we might do so as well.



Segment 2: Words from previous presidents (starting at 24:21)

HOLLY: So one thing, as we do our work at BJC, we hope people will engage in these questions and look at history. And we actually have on our website some words of the Founders, some things that can provoke conversation, understanding to explore.

AMANDA: And on that page, we link to the original source documents, so you can read these quotes in context.

HOLLY:I think we should go over a few of those, Amanda. I mean, we should start, as you were leading us in this conversation and as Professor Meyerson does, with the first president.

AMANDA: Yeah. So I’ll do my best George Washington here.

HOLLY: (Laughing.)

AMANDA: Not really. He said in a letter to the United Baptist Churches of Virginia in 1789, “If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed in the convention where I had the honor to preside might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it; and if I could now conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny in every species of religious persecution.”

He goes on, “Every man conducting himself as a good citizen and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.”

HOLLY: That’s great. He must have known his Baptist audience, to appeal to their interest in conscience. And it still speaks to me today.

AMANDA: Yeah. I was also thinking either he did or Alexander Hamilton did, because we learned from Lin-Manuel Miranda — right? — that he actually wrote a lot of these letters for Washington. [Laughter]

HOLLY: It’s funny to me, that quote has so much of the idea of separation in it. You know, we have these silly conversations about is separation in the First Amendment. Of course, the word “separation” is not there, but the concept is, and the concept — I’m seeing it right here from the first president when he says that we are accountable to God alone for religious opinions.

That’s kind of a natural separation of what God is to us or can be to someone versus what the government is. You know, it’s not the government’s job to tell people what their conscience is when it comes to worshipping and whether to worship, how to worship a deity. And I feel like this quote recognizes that.

AMANDA: And also the context of the time. This was after the original Constitution, before the First Amendment, and we know that Baptists were among those who were petitioning the government for the First Amendment. And that side won obviously, and so we have the further protections of the First Amendment when it comes to religious freedom.

But I think here we also have the first president who presided over the Constitutional Convention, saying, Look, in drafting that, I never imagined that we’d have any kind of religious preference in that document itself.

HOLLY: Well, in addition to a lot of Jeffersonian quotes that you often hear cited, the website notes this quote that was written in a letter to Rev. Samuel Miller, a Presbyterian in the early 1800s. President Jefferson says, “Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the general government.”

AMANDA: Saying, as we say, it’s not government’s job to control religion, to say what is doctrine when it comes to religion.

HOLLY: Yeah. And to practice one’s religious discipline is a decision between them and their God, and not something that the government can dictate, because, of course, as President James Madison would say, “Religion flourishes in greater purity without than with the aid of government.” That was in a letter to Edward Livingston in 1822, and again, one of those famous quotes, this one from the primary drafter of the Constitution about how he sees the importance of separating religion and government.

AMANDA: We will fast-forward into the 20th century to President Lyndon B. Johnson, a native Texan from Central Texas, the area of Texas where I grew up. And he said in the Baptist Standard in 1964, “I believe in the American tradition of separation of church and state, which is expressed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. By my office and by personal conviction, I am sworn to uphold that tradition.” So a very nice, firm statement, defending separation of church and state from President Johnson.

HOLLY: Yeah. It’s a good example of how presidents can shape our thinking about our country, what kind of country we are, in regard to religious freedom, just, you know, through their interviews and public statements. I think it really undercuts this idea that we have been and always were or should be a “Christian nation.”

Moving ahead in time, we would hear even stronger language protecting the separation of church and state from that Baptist president, Jimmy Carter, who spoke often about his own Christianity, his own Baptist faith, and his appreciation for religious freedom for all, and he did so well, you know, even with regard to current events.

He spoke at a press conference in 1979 and talked about prayer specifically and saying that prayer should be a private matter between a person and God. He said that’s what he thinks. He said, “I think the government ought to stay out of the prayer business and let it be between a person and God, and not let it be part of a school program under any tangible constraints, either a direct order to a child to pray or an embarrassing situation where the child would feel constrained to pray.”

AMANDA: I also really like here his sensitivity to the position that it would put the child in in that moment, and whether that child — you know, that child could be a child who is in Baptist Sunday school on Sunday morning but for whom however the teacher is praying is not exactly how he or she would like to pray in that moment and would feel ostracized. So really helpful quote.

And then finally a quote from President George W. Bush from a presidential debate in October 2004. He said there, “And my faith is a very — it’s very personal. But I’m mindful in a free society that people can worship if they want to or not. You’re equally an American if you choose to worship an almighty and if you choose not to. If you’re a Christian, Jew or Muslim, you’re equally an American. That’s the great thing about America, is the right to worship the way you see fit.” So I’m very pleased to see that reminder from President Bush said just 20 years ago.

HOLLY: Yeah. It reminds us, of course, all presidents and I’d say probably maybe all public figures, you know, have mixed records and say a lot of different things, and we’re not trying to summarize their presidency or even exactly what all they contributed to our national conversation about religious freedom. But I think just looking at these few quotes show us the richness of this topic and the very shallowness of the Christian nationalism purveyors.

AMANDA: It also shows some of the common themes and languages used across political party and across the ages, and unfortunately in a society that has become increasingly polarized, we don’t often or always see this kind of unanimity when it comes to rhetoric protecting the separation of church and state, and the equality of status in society regardless of religion.



Segment 3: What now? (starting at 33:20)

AMANDA: So, Holly, I mean, what are some of our takeaways that we want to share with our audience here about how we think about presidents and religious freedom in honor of this year’s commemoration of Presidents Day?

My first reflection is that we have a tendency to put leaders up on pedestals. If we have that more idealized vision of what presidents are, then we also forget — when we think about their religious character — that there’s enormous variety when it comes to their personal religious views and the way that they might express them in public.

And we heard it even in some of those quotes that we read through, that some of them claim a personal faith. Others were less religious — right? — and maybe used some of the religious rhetoric because they felt like they needed to, but that that was not as authentic to how they actually worshipped or identified religiously or exercised their religion.

HOLLY: Well, Amanda, this is a good opportunity for us just to appreciate that, the complexity of human nature, the complexity of history and religion, and how each of us decides to conduct ourselves, religiously or not, and that when we’re having this conversation about our country and who we are and what kind of nation we’re going to be, we should care about what the historical record says and what these debates were and what different presidents have said. But we should also just return to the founding documents and the ideas that hold us together and the kind of nation that we want to be. And I think when we do that, we come away with not only a more complex picture but also a more honest one about who we are as a country.

AMANDA: And in this election year, as we — again, as we do every four years, elect our leader, I would implore that we all remember Article VI of the U.S. Constitution — no religious test for public office — and that we not do as a society what the Constitution prohibits. That is, that we not put on a religious test for public office, that we not make religion a qualification for public office.

HOLLY: I think what we want is people to lead who are authentically dedicated to this vision that we’ve been talking about, Amanda, that regardless of their own personal faith and story will uphold the principles of faith freedom for all. And I think we have a role as citizens to encourage that, to encourage that in our leaders and to stand alongside people without regard to religion to be involved in government and to take bold stands for religious freedom, not for this false idea that we are a “Christian nation.”

AMANDA: Candidates for public office and officeholders should neither have to check their religious identity nor put on a religious identity in order to serve an office of the public trust.

HOLLY: Well, Amanda, that brings us to the close of this episode of Respecting Religion. Thanks for joining us. For more information on what we discussed, visit our website at RespectingReligion.org for show notes and a transcript of this program.

AMANDA: Respecting Religion is produced by Cherilyn Guy with editorial assistance from Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons.

HOLLY: Learn more about our work at BJC, defending faith freedom for all, by visiting our website at BJConline.org.

AMANDA: We’d love to hear from you. You can send both of us an email by writing to [email protected]. We’re also on social media at BJContheHill, and you can follow me on X, which used to be called Twitter, @AmandaTylerBJC.

HOLLY: And if you enjoyed the show, share it with others. Take a moment to leave us a review or a five-star rating to help more people find it.

AMANDA: We also want to thank you for supporting this podcast. You can donate to these conversations by visiting the link in our show notes.

HOLLY: Join us on Thursdays for new conversations Respecting Religion.