Analysis | Nearly half of Americans say they want a ‘Christian nation’

Nearly half of Americans say they want a ‘Christian nation’

Against the backdrop of ever more Republicans espousing far-right “Christian nationalism,” a new poll showing 45% of Americans say the United States should be a “Christian nation” might be eye-popping evidence of a tectonic shift in public attitudes about government and religion.

But the Pew Research Center survey in question, which is fascinating, convincingly makes the point that there are many vastly different interpretations of what that expression means, while comfortable majorities want daylight between politics and faith.


Sixty-seven percent of all adults, for instance, say churches should stay out of politics, while 77% say they should not endorse candidates for elected office.

Among the 45% who want the United States to be a “Christian nation”:

  • 28% want the federal government to declare the country a Christian nation, while 52% say the government should never declare an official religion
  • 24% say the federal government should promote Christian values, while 52% say it should promote moral values shared by many faiths
  • 39% say the federal government should enforce separation of church and state, while 31% say it should stop enforcing it.

Among all United States adults, 15% want the federal government to declare the country a Christian nation (69% do not), 13% say the federal government should promote Christian values (63% favor values shared by many faiths), 54% say the government should enforce separation of church and state (19% say it should stop).

Of those who say they want a “Christian nation,” 78% say the Bible should have some or a great deal of influence on U.S. laws, including 54% who say the Bible should have precedence over the will of the people if the two come into conflict.

Among all adults, 51% say the Bible should have little or no influence over U.S. laws, 47% say it should have some or a great deal of influence, and 27% pick the Bible over the will of the people in a conflict.

Growing influence in GOP

What about the right-wing ideology of “Christian nationalism?”

Earlier this year, my colleague Michelle Boorstein explained the phenomenon and explored its rising influence in Republican ranks, focusing on the GOP’s current gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, and the debt he and the movement owe former president Donald Trump.

Read the whole thing, as they say. But don’t miss these two paragraphs:

“Mastriano’s use of religion and politics is similar to Trump’s in that neither look to big denominations or established clergy or church sermons for influence. They instead tap into how disaffiliated Americans are becoming from organized religion. (Less than half of Americans belong to a congregation and three in 10 say they have no religious affiliation altogether.) Religious identity and practice are becoming hyper individualized, with no need for a denomination or clergy member to validate a person’s beliefs. People can be devoutly Christian whichever way they choose, including by following a political candidate’s message.

“Many conservative Republican leaders seem in recent years to be using more exclusionary and sharper religious language, some experts on U.S. religion say. As institutional religion has slipped in stature in a more secular America, rhetoric from the independent fringe of charismatic faith — where life is about a real, daily battle between Satan and God — has risen to the fore.”

Partisan splits

In Pew’s poll, 45% said they had heard at least a little about Christian nationalism. Pew followed up by asking that group whether they viewed the movement favorably, or unfavorably. Unfavorable: 24%. Favorable: 5%.

But 54% said they had heard nothing about it.

Non-Christians (55%) are more likely than Christians (40%) to be familiar with the term. Democrats (55%) are more likely to know of Christian nationalism than Republicans (37%).

There are some partisan splits on the “Christian nation” question:

  • Three out of four Republicans but just 47% of Democrats say the founders intended for the U.S. to be a Christian nation.
  • When it comes to whether the U.S. should be one, 67% of Republicans agree but just 29% of Democrats do.
  • Forty percent of Republicans and 16% of Democrats say the Bible should prevail if it’s in conflict with the people’s will.

And there are some religious details as well:

  • 81% of White evangelical Protestants — the bedrock of GOP support — say the founders intended the United States to be a Christian nation. A majority of Black Protestants — a bedrock of Democratic support — agree, at 57%.
  • 81% of White evangelical Protestants and 65% of Black Protestants say the United States should be a Christian nation.

A notable theme throughout respondents’ descriptions of a Christian nation is their ambiguity,” the report notes. “It is often unclear exactly how much institutional influence and control people attribute to Christianity in their responses.”

What’s happening now

Husband of House Speaker Pelosi attacked during break-in of California home, office says

“The husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was attacked during an early-morning break-in of the couple’s San Francisco home, her office said Friday,” Eugene Scott reports.

Paul Pelosi, 82, was taken to a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

EU reaches political deal on combustion-engine vehicle ban as of 2035

The planned law is set to require new cars and vans to have significantly lower carbon emissions by 2030 and to reach zero emissions by 2035, adding to pressure on auto makers and suppliers to accelerate the shift away from cars that run on gasoline and toward electric vehicles,” the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Mackrael reports.

Racist tweets quickly surfaced after Musk closed Twitter deal

“An emboldened cast of anonymous trolls spewed racist slurs and Nazi memes onto Twitter in the hours after billionaire industrialist Elon Musk took over the social network Thursday, raising fears of how his pledge of unrestricted free speech could fuel a new wave of online hate,” Drew Harwell reports.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Inside the secretive effort by Trump allies to access voting machines

“A week after the 2020 election, as Donald Trump raged over what he claimed was rampant fraud, officials in a rural county in southern Georgia received a disturbing report from the employee who ran their elections,Emma Brown and Jon Swaine report.


“New voting machines in use across the state could ‘very easily’ be manipulated to flip votes from one candidate to another, she claimed at a meeting of the county elections board, and ballots could be scanned and counted more than once. She stressed that she had correctly tallied the results in their county, where Trump won in a landslide. But she said not everyone in positions like hers could be trusted to do the same.”

Taiwan, missiles and spying set to be China’s priorities under new Xi term

Despite China’s growing global clout, Xi still worries that slowing growth and deep links with Western industrialized economies will weaken the party’s hold on power, said [Guoguang Wu, a senior research scholar at the Stanford Center on China’s Economy and Institutions],” Christian Shepherd and Pei-Lin Wu report.

… and beyond

Federal agents labeled Portland protesters ‘violent antifa anarchists,’ improperly gathered intel, report says

Homeland Security’s top leaders initially wanted federal agents to compile intelligence reports — dubbed ‘baseball cards’ — on ‘everyone participating’ in Portland’s racial justice protests in 2020, according to new information made public Thursday,” Maxine Bernstein reports for the Oregonian/OregonLive.

“After an intelligence head warned they needed to narrow the scope of the reports, they forged ahead and produced dossiers on people arrested during the demonstrations who had nothing to do with threats to federal officers or homeland security, according to unredacted federal reviews of the intelligence gathering released by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.”

The Biden agenda

Biden just signed an international climate treaty. And McConnell voted for it.

“On the surface, the Kigali Amendment may not seem like it has anything to do with the climate at all. But in fact, it may be one of the biggest steps to limit warming of the planet. If fully implemented, the measure would avert upward of 0.5 degrees Celsius — almost 1 degree Fahrenheit — of warming by the end of the century. Keeping in mind that the Paris climate agreement aims to hold the rise in global average temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, the Kigali Amendment would take a big step toward that goal. And it builds on one of the most successful efforts to prevent an environmental disaster in history,” Vox’s Umair Irfan reports.

Biden questions Putin’s claim Russia won’t use nuclear weapons in Ukraine

I think if he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it? Why does he talk about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon?” Biden told NewsNation in an interview late Thursday in Syracuse, New York, NBC News’ Hyder Abbasi reports.

Biden administration expects deal with allies on China export curbs soon

The Biden administration expects to ink a deal with allies in the near-term to bring them on board with new U.S. rules curbing China’s access to sophisticated chipmaking tools, a senior Commerce Department official said on Thursday,” Reuters’ Alexandra Alper and Karen Freifeld report.

U.S. program aims to keep sensitive weapons in Ukraine

“A five-page document broadly outlining the program described providing additional support to Ukraine’s efforts to account for the weapons, as Kyiv has pledged to do, including training for border guards and stricter monitoring of arms and ammunition,” the New York Times’ Lara Jakes and John Ismay report. “However, the document said, ‘we recognize that the chaotic nature of combat can make this difficult.


More than one in four of D.C.’s roughly 8,000 public housing units sit vacant for an average length of about two years, agency records reveal, Steve Thompson reports.

“Nationwide, public housing occupancy rates average 95 percent. DCHA’s is the lowest it has ever experienced, even as the District’s long-running affordable housing crisis intensifies and more people find themselves priced out of decent homes.”

Hot on the left

Republicans’ secret swing-seat weapon? Dozens of rich nominees.

“While Republicans’ financial strength is largely attributable to their close relationships with the millionaire and billionaire donors who fund their political action committees, they are increasingly utilizing their connection with wealthy political donors in another fashion: by recruiting them to run for office,” the American Prospect’s Austin Ahlman reports.

“A Prospect analysis of the 68 competitive House races this cycle—defined as the 50 races FiveThirtyEight deems most competitive, as well as other seats where national party PACs have invested money—indicates that Republicans have substantially padded their financial advantage by recruiting a jaw-dropping number of wealthy nominees. Thirty-six of the 68 Republicans running in competitive races have loaned their campaigns money. And 21 of those 36—nearly a third of the Republican nominees in tight contests—have given their campaigns more than $100,000.”

Hot on the right

Florida Republicans take the lead in early voting ballots, an ominous sign for Democrats

Florida Republicans pulled ahead of Democrats Thursday in the number of pre-Election Day votes cast, a major shift from previous voting patterns and another sign that the GOP could have a very good night on Nov. 8,” Zac Anderson reports for the USA Today network.

“Democrats have built up leads in pre-Election Day voting each of the last two cycles, only to be swamped by Republicans on Election Day. Now it appears that Republicans will actually have the lead in votes cast heading into Election Day, a potentially ominous sign for Democrats.”

Today in Washington

Biden will leave Delaware for Philadelphia at 5:30 p.m.

At 7 p.m., Biden and Vice President Harris will speak at a fundraiser for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party at the Philadelphia Convention Center.

Biden will head back to Delaware at 8:40 p.m., where he will be for the weekend.

Over the weekend: On Saturday, Biden will vote in Wilmington with his granddaughter Natalie, who is voting for the first time.

In closing

Happy World Series day 1!

A look back: Here’s how World Series day games went extinct

Some baseball fans fondly remember the World Series day game, with stories of teachers wheeling television sets into classrooms and kids sneaking transistor radios into schools or rushing home to catch the final innings,” Frederic J. Frommer writes.

“But that era, which baseball chipped away at haltingly starting with a single early-1970s experimental night game, is now hazy for generations of fans — and unimaginable for those under the age of 40, who have never seen a full World Series game contested in daylight. It has been 35 years since the last World Series day game, and don’t hold your breath for the next one.”

Get caught up: The Astros and Phillies will meet in the World Series. Here’s what to know.

Thanks for reading. See you next week.