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Austin Cline

More on “Christianizing” America

By July 12, 2009

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Most Americans favor religious pluralism, but it's disturbing just how many would support making Christianity the one official religion of the United States. Most Americans also say that "traditional Christian values and symbols" must prevail, even to the point of supporting an official declaration of America as a "Christian society." Not all the results are bad, but they don't reflect well on conservative, evangelical Christianity in America.

The Barna Group conducted a survey of these attitudes a couple of years ago, finding that Evangelical Christians are the most supportive of transforming America into an explicitly Christian society...


Ten Commandments

Less than one out of every five adults (18%) supports "removing signs that list the Ten Commandments from government buildings." In contrast, 79% of all adults rejected this policy – including 60% of adults who were "strongly opposed" to removing the Commandments. ... Less than one-half of one percent of evangelicals favored the elimination of the Ten Commandments from government buildings and just 6% of non-evangelical born again adults and one-sixth of notional Christians (16%) supported such a policy.

Catholics and Protestants agree that this policy makes little sense: only 6% of Protestants and 18% of Catholics favor the removal policy. Even a minority (32%) of the Americans aligned with non-Christian faith groups indicated their support. The only faith group among which a majority gave its support was atheists and agnostics: 55% said this was a good idea.

Setting aside the error involved with describing atheists and agnostics as a "faith group," I'm surprised that 45% didn't support removing Ten Commandments displays from government buildings. Who are they and what are there reasons??


"In God We Trust"

Overall, only 13% favored eliminating the phrase from currency, while 84% oppose the idea. Nearly three-quarters of the public (72%) are "strongly opposed" to making this change. ... Again, few evangelicals (1%) and non-evangelical born again Christians (4%) supported the idea. Catholics were four times more likely than Protestants to hail the concept (15% versus 4%), but even so only one-seventh of Catholics like the notion.

No surprise there, though it's curious that atheists aren't mentioned this time.


"One Nation Under God"

Only 15% of adults said they would support the change, compared to 84% who dismissed it. ... Only 4% of evangelicals and 6% of non-evangelical born again Christians supported this change, with one-eighth of notional Christians (13%) in favor of it. Almost one-quarter of the non-Christian faith adherents (24%) liked the idea. A mere 7% of Protestants and 13% of Catholics bought into this concept.

This seems to have more support than removing "In God We Trust" from money — why do you suppose that is? It could be that the Newdow case increased public discussion and personal thinking on it, which suggests that further efforts could lead to more discussion and, over the long term, even less support for these examples of government-endorsed religious beliefs.

Funny how many concern trolls — theists and atheists — insisted that people like Newdow would actually make things worse by... raising awareness and bringing these issues to people's attention.


Creationism in Public Schools

About six out of every ten adults (59%) favor teaching creationism while less than four out of ten (38%) do not want it added to the public school curriculum content. ... Almost nine out of ten evangelicals (86%) support teaching creationism, along with 70% of non-evangelical born against and 60% of notional Christians. Most Protestants (69%) and Catholics (59%) support this approach to explaining the genesis of the universe.

I wonder if they bothered to define "creationism" when taking the poll? Different people can understand different concepts under the term.


The "F-word" on Television

Only one out of seven adults (15%) felt allowing the word on broadcast TV was acceptable, while 83% dismissed this as inappropriate. ... less than one-tenth of evangelicals (6%) and non-evangelical born again adults (8%) favored using the word. In contrast, more than twice as many adults associated with non-Christian faiths (21%) and up to six times as many atheists and agnostics (35%) were comfortable with the word being used on broadcast channels. Following the established patterns, Catholics were twice as likely as Protestants (19% versus 9%, respectively) to favor using the term.

I wonder why they didn't ask about politicians using the "F-word" in the Senate? It's curious that atheists and agnostics show up here again after being absent through most of the survey results. I wonder why?


Christian Nation

Barna also pointed out the surprisingly large number of people who are supportive of an amendment to declare Christianity the official national faith. "Almost 70 million adults favor such an amendment. That is a huge vote of confidence in the Christian faith - and a tacit statement about people' concerns regarding the direction and lukewarm spirituality of the nation. If nothing else, this certainly indicates that given effective leadership, American Christianity could play a larger role in shaping the norms of our culture in the future."

It's not a vote of confidence in the Christian faith — such a claim from Barna means that he thinks that those Christians who don't favor such an amendment aren't confident in the Christian faith, arguably an insult to all those Christians. In fact, what does a constitutional amendment making Christianity America's official religion have to do with "confidence" in Christianity? For those of us who don't want America to become a Christian theocracy, this isn't the "larger role in shaping the norms of our culture" that we want Christianity to play.

Frankly, a Christian theocracy where people like George Barna play an important role is frightening and needs to be fought. If anything, wanting to make Christianity the official religion is an expression of a lack of confidence in Christianity because you don't think that it will be followed or will make a difference unless it is backed with force by the federal government. A person who is confident in their religion won't think that it needs the government’s explicit backing.

July 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm
(1) Paul Buchman says:

The xian nationalists keep finding cracks to jam their wedges into. I’m grateful to all the orgs. which fight them (FFRF, Secular Coalition, etc.)

July 12, 2009 at 8:06 pm
(2) naturalist says:

And conseravtives who make up a large percentage of these people constantly whine about large government intruding in their lives except when they perist in trying to legislate delusional c*ap like this.

July 13, 2009 at 2:33 pm
(3) Ana Marte says:

I’m a christian and I’m totally disagree when thinking about remove creationism lessons from our schools, I want my children who is raised in this modern superficial world to know that God created all the world, otherwise I think it would be easier to homeschool him specially when I could teach him with a really valuable complete curriculum.

July 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm
(4) Britney Lopez says:

public education is becoming worse than waste, that’s why I prefer homeschool my children by using a really valuable quality k 12 education plan that I really know is fulling my son with values and real education for his life.

July 13, 2009 at 3:17 pm
(5) atheist_Dave says:

Ana Marte,

I’m totally disagree when thinking about remove creationism lessons from our schools

I shall presume that you’re talking here about creationism no longer being promoted in public school science classes in the U.S as an equally valid scientific alternative to, or taught instead of, evolutionary theory and respond accordingly: if creationism should be presented in a science class as a scientifically legitimate alternative view to, or taught instead of, evolutionary theory, then Holocaust denial should be presented in a history class as a historically valid alternative to, or taught in the place of, the notion that the Holocaust actually occurred. How’s that sound?

I want my children who is raised in this modern superficial world to know that God created all the world

If you want your children to believe that, then that’s your business. Send them to a religious school or homeschool them and/or send them to Sunday school . Your country’s government-run schools, however, are not the place for religious indoctrination of children and young people. That, I might add, is against your nation’s constitution.

July 13, 2009 at 3:41 pm
(6) Pearl Ostroff says:

It is very frightening that the people who want to homeschool their children cannot put together a grammatical English sentence.

July 13, 2009 at 3:52 pm
(7) Pearl Ostroff says:

The k 12 education plan site Britney Lopez directs us to is also filled with grammatical errors. You can’t actually get to see their plans or any of their textbooks or even send them an email from that site. Is that only for the initiated?

July 13, 2009 at 4:21 pm
(8) Austin Cline says:

I’m a christian and I’m totally disagree when thinking about remove creationism lessons from our schools,

Why should public schools teach your religion?

I want my children who is raised in this modern superficial world to know that God created all the world,

So, you can’t teach this? Your church can’t teach this?

July 13, 2009 at 7:03 pm
(9) DaveTheWave says:

I think Ana and Britney are the same person. Dang, I hope clicking on that silly homeschool link didn’t download weird gawd software on my computer…

July 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm
(10) mikec says:

Ana Marte,
Firstly, creationism is not taught in public school science classrooms now, so it can hardly be removed.

Creationism is NOT science and has no place in a public classroom. It is not observable, testable, or based on ANY real scientific method.

You (and others like you) are insisting on having your own personal myth taught to ALL children (who may or may not be of your church, denomination, or even religion) often using the feeble (and not well thought out) excuse of “teaching the controversy, and letting the kids decide”.

You seem to forget that there are many other religions, all with their own version of creation. It is only fair to include these versions of creationism alongside yours.

From the Navaho: “After setting the mountains down where they should go, the Navajo deities, or “Holy People”, put the sun and the moon into the sky and were in the process of carefully placing the stars in an orderly way. But the Coyote, known as the trickster, grew impatient from the long deliberations being held, and seized the corner of the blanket where it lay and flung the remaining stars into the sky.”

From the Norse: “Odin, Vili, and Ve put Ymir’s corpse into the middle of ginnungagap and created the earth and sky from it. They also created the stars, sun, and moon from sparks coming out of Muspelheim.”

From Hungary: “[...]However now his beak hit the bottom of the sea, into its sand. He took some of it into his beak and like an arrow, He shot up to the top of the water with it. From the surface of the sea bed, he brought up the Sleeping eyes/seeds, silver white “ügyücske”. The sleeping eyes awoke, the sleepy eyes opened and grew up and became living beings.”

We also have my personal favorite: The world was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster, who was a bit tipsy at the time, which explains why humans have useless features such as the appendix, and the coccyx (the butt-bone it hurts so much to fall on – which is, in reality, the vestigial remnant of our former prehensile tails).

If ALL the creation myths were presented to children in a science classroom, with critical examination, they’d most likely realize what you Christians are all trying so hard to avoid – the children figuring out that all religions are simply wishful-thinking myths, made up by cultures that could barely read and write, much less understand science, and the natural world. The human beings (not any deity) who wrote, collected, and edited the creation story of the Bible also believed that the earth was flat, and that the sun, moon, planets and stars revolved around that flat earth. We know now that this is untrue, because we have much more highly developed methods for observation than they had 4 to 6 thousand years ago.

Furthermore, if evolution is “just a theory” (as so many Christians who don’t understand the definition of theory like to claim), then gravity is also “just a theory” (explained by the fact that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is using his uncountable Noodly Appendages to keep us from flying off the planet). Einstein’s theory of Relativity is also “just a theory”, and therefore should not be taught as science.

Also, as so many others have asked, why insist that these far-fetched fairy-tales be taught in public schools at all when you have the choice of sending your kids to Christian “schools”, Bible school, or directly telling them the myths yourself? Did you tell your kids about Santa Claus, or did you whine for some other person or institution to do it for you?

Lastly, judging by your atrocious spelling and grammar skills, I question your ability to be an effective home school “teacher”.

July 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm
(11) Ronz_0 says:

I am Christian myself, but I really do not think public school should be “forced” to teach creationism. Heck, they should actually teach students to question their beliefs critically. That is the real meaning of education. Sadly, even I am still searching for justifications for my beliefs, hence unable to present any alternative argument.
For all Christians, even Paul encouraged us to question all these stuffs, in order to strengthen our beliefs, not the opposite. Whilst the reduced form of all religions is pure faith, it should not stop us to know and understand more about God and church’s doctrines.

As for “Christianizing” a society, I must say that I am totally against it. History shows us that merging politics and religions ushered in the period of war and corruption. Laws would become absolute, and consequently, the society suffer. Several laws and moral values may be implemented in the constitution, but that is the limit. Any more, and it would become an unstoppable slippery slope.

July 21, 2009 at 4:07 pm
(12) Zayla says:

It is a sad, sad commentary on the vast percentages that Austin just threw at us via the Barna Group that the VAST majority of those people have never taken the time to read and understand the founding fathers intent when constructing this nation.

And I STRESS, not quote mining, but reading, studying and understanding all the from John Williams in the 1600′s to the decisions that James Madison made as President and everything in-between that they may get an understanding of how the is anything but a “christian nation”. It simply is NOT.

Sad, after so many years. Thomas Jefferson would be appalled.

July 21, 2009 at 4:35 pm
(13) John from ME says:

Ana and Britney make a great argument for not homeschooling.I pity their children.

July 21, 2009 at 5:24 pm
(14) Zayla says:

#13 John and ME

You should also be concerned for all of us since the christian fundamentalists are the highest percentage of the home school “students”.

That means they will be unleashed on our society with their unscientific, warped, theocratic misogynistic views of society meaning that it will continue to put this country in a laughable state instead of the world leader in education, science and technology that it should be.

July 21, 2009 at 7:47 pm
(15) Drew says:

Three siblings I know were home schooled by their fundy parents. One swallowed the fundy religion completely, one I don’t know about, and one is an angry atheist who hates his parents because of the home schooling they gave him.

Is that what religionists are shooting for? A one-in-three success ratio? Would public schooling be any worse for their religion? Do they understand the concept of “ratio”?

July 21, 2009 at 11:43 pm
(16) Doug Shaver says:

I’ve been posting on Internet boards for about 10 years now. I have yet to see a Christian explain why kids cannot learn that God created the world unless they hear it from their biology teachers.

July 22, 2009 at 12:37 am
(17) John Hanks says:

Remember. A self taught sucker is never free.

July 22, 2009 at 3:07 am
(18) Mark Barratt says:

Comment 16 by Doug Shaver

At the very least, the religious should show their good faith by making the first move. They should start teaching evolution in Sunday school.

July 22, 2009 at 6:35 pm
(19) John from ME says:

You’re right on all counts.As a country we’ve dropped significantly in the last few decades.We’ve gone from first to the middle of the pack.Sad.

July 26, 2009 at 3:37 am
(20) Tom Edgar says:

John.. You may be right in categorising America in the middle of the pack of the whole world. But in the ADVANCED Western world America ranked 17th out of 18. If they had included those two “Home Educators” earlier I reckon they would have made 19th out of 18.

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