Study: More Than 3/4 of Republican Evangelicals Want US Declared A Christian Nation

By Bob Smietana
capitol hill republican evangelicals
Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Harold Mendoza/Unsplash/Creative Commons)

When it comes to politics, there are few things Democrats and Republicans agree on.

One exception: Making America officially a Christian nation would be unconstitutional.

That’s true even for Americans who would like the country to be Christian.

Seventy percent of Americans agreed the U.S. Constitution would not allow “the U.S. government to declare the United States a Christian nation,” according to the University of Maryland’s Critical Issues Poll. That includes 81% of Democrats, 73% of Independents, and 57% of Republicans.

Just under two-thirds (62%) of Americans said they opposed the idea of the U.S. officially becoming a Christian nation. That includes 83% of Democrats, 64% of Independents, and 39% of Republicans.

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Sixty-one percent of Republicans said they favor “the United States officially declaring the United States to be a Christian nation.”

“Our new University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll suggests that declaring the United States a Christian nation is a message that could be broadly embraced by Republicans in the midterms and 2024 presidential race,” wrote University of Maryland professors Stella Rouse and Shibley Telhami in an op-ed for Politico. “But our findings also see limits to its appeal — and over the long-term, Christian nationalism could be a political loser.”

The questions about Christian nationalism — the idea that Christianity is an essential part of American identity and that Christians should run the country — were part of a larger poll of 2,091 participants conducted May 6–16, 2022. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.14%.

Pollsters also looked at the ways religion and politics affected views on Christian nationalism in several different religious traditions. Baptists were split, with 46% percent saying that declaring the United States a Christian nation was constitutional and 54% saying it was not.

Catholics (69%), non-Christians (85%) and other Christians (69%) were more likely to say that declaring the U.S. a Christian nation was not allowed under the Constitution. 

Baptists (67%) and other Christians (52%) were more likely to favor declaring the U.S. a Christian nation than Catholics (40%) or non-Christians (11%). In every group, Republicans were more likely to be in favor of declaring the U.S. a Christian nation than Democrats.

Evangelical or born-again Christians — a category that crossed denominational lines, said Telhami — were most likely to support the idea of the U.S. becoming an officially Christian nation. Among Republicans, more than three-fourths (78%) of those who identified as evangelical or born-again favored declaring the United States officially Christian. Among Democrats, 52% of those who identify as evangelical or born again agreed.

Support for Christian nationalism is popular among older American Christians and could strengthen the Republican base, wrote Rouse and Telhami.

“However, this strategy may be short-sighted,” they wrote for Politico. “As our findings demonstrate, there is strong opposition to declaring the U.S. a Christian nation among younger Americans, and even younger Republicans. For that reason, the GOP may want to tread carefully or risk alienating rising generations.”

American Christianity has declined in recent years, from 78% in 2007 to 63% in 2020, according to Pew Research, while about a third of Americans now claim no religious affiliation. Recent projections by Pew Research found the U.S. could lose its Christian majority by 2070.

A 2021 Pew Research survey found that 69% percent of Americans said the federal government “should never declare any religion as the official religion of the U.S.” Fifteen percent said the government should declare the U.S. a Christian nation.

Only 13% of Americans said the federal government should advocate for Christian values, while 63% said the government should advocate for values shared by people of many faiths.

About one in five Americans (18%) said the Constitution was divinely inspired. Three in 10 said public school teachers should be allowed to pray with students.  

Bob SmietanaBob Smietana is a national reporter for Religion News Service.



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25 thoughts on “Study: More Than 3/4 of Republican Evangelicals Want US Declared A Christian Nation”

  1. Ah how history repeats itself. In 330 A.D. 3/4 of Christians wanted the Roman Empire to be declared a Christian Empire. They got it. How did that work out?

  2. We are foremost ambassadors of Christ. The Nationality or political party we belong to is of absolutely no importance when it comes to our citizenship in the worldwide body of Christ. Proclaiming a thing does not make it true.

  3. America is not a Christian nation, since those who profess Christ as Lord and Savior are not the majority. But calling it so would not be unconstitutional: The Constitution simply says that Congress has no authority to “ “establish” one church as the State Church of the national, like, e.g., The Church of England.

    1. Pretty sure most of those taking the survey interpreted the question as being about Congress legislatively enshrining the USA as a Christian nation as opposed to, say, the president declaring it as such in a stump speech.

  4. I am old enough to remember prayer in Public Schools. I was around 10 at the time they ended. Even then I (surprisingly) had enough Spiritual Maturity to know that most of those prayers were devoid of any relationship with the Jesus that I knew as my Savior. So, I didn’t think the ending of School Prayers was a bad thing. In fact, I was pleased not to have to pretend to be reverent during prayers that I thought were a waste of time!

    1. I’m with you on that. I know my relatives in Australia deal with the periodic push to remove the Lord’s Prayer from their parliament. I’d think it should go. Almost no politicians there are Christian and it is an insult to our Lord and his church to prattle on with it.

  5. Just in case you wonder what anti-American, anti-constitutional fascism looks like – here you go –

    And more important – anti-Christ.

    Jesus’ Kingdom is NOT of this world – He was explicit – and ran away from being made a king of a secular state.

    What is wrong with republican evangelicals?? Well, look at who they vote for –

  6. OK……..If Christian then which version of Christianity? Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Liberal Protestant, Evangelical Protestant?

    1. More likely in our present context, a mushy non-denominational mega-churchianity or a kooky, unhinged charismatic/pentecostalism… I really, really don’t want any of those representing the state’s pet. They’ve already done enough of damage to the Kingdom without having state priviledge to boot.

  7. I would suggest, for the sake of accuracy, that readers download the actual survey questions. There were only 2, and they didn’t make any distinction between religious affiliation. It only distinguished between political affiliation.

    For the first question, the Republicans overwhelmingly said the constitution would NOT allow the government to declare the U.S. a Christian nation. Somewhere “other pollsters” was inserted into the article and suddenly 75% of Republicans want the U.S. declared a Christian nation. Interesting.

  8. If anyone thinks America should be a Christian nation let them spend their energy, time, talents and funds to make disciples- not delegating the job to someone else, not paying someone else to do it, but personally doing it. If more citizens become disciples of Jesus the country will BE a Christian nation and no legislation or laws will be needed. In the meantime, what waste of energy.

    1. C. S. Lewis warned against this kind of nationalism/patriotism. In Screwtape Letters the evil mentor Screwtape advised his mentee Wormwood to temp his subject, a new Christian, to go down that road:

      Your best plan, in that case, would be to attempt a sudden, confused, emotional crisis from which he might emerge as an uneasy convert to patriotism. Such things can often be managed. But if he is the man I take him to be, try Pacifism.

      Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “cause”, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism.

  9. ‘…Now, on March 21 as the march from Selma began for a second time, another southern preacher offered his assessment of ministers like Reeb. Jerry Falwell, preaching a sermon titled “Ministers and Marches” to a crowded sanctuary in Lynchburg, Virginia, was sharply critical of pastors who participated in civil rights activism, although he did not mention Reeb by name. Such pastors needed to be off the streets and behind their pulpits, proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. “Preachers are not called to be politicians but to be soul-winners,” he said. “We have a message of redeeming grace through a crucified and risen Lord. This message is designed to go right to the heart of man and there meet his deep spiritual need.” Christians were not called to “reform the externals,” he said, or wage war against sin, whether that sin be gambling, alcohol consumption, prostitution, “prejudiced person or institutions,” or anything else. “Our ministry is not reformation but transformation. The gospel does not clean up the outside but rather regenerates the inside.”…’
    From page 98 of:
    Harder, Joseph D, “”Heal their land”: Evangelical political theology from the Great Awakening to the Moral Majority” (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska – Lincoln. AAI3618534.

    The above was said by Jerry Falwell 15 years before he went off the edge and got completely involved in politics. Of course that’s my opinion and not Mr. Harder’s❗

    This detailed, well-written dissertation is still free for downloading as a PDF. I can highly recommend it to various protestants since it’s even-handed!

  10. Our country may be accurately described as predominantly Christian because a majority of residents currently self-identify as such. If, however, the term refers to individual followers of Jesus, as it does in Acts 11:26, a political state cannot be truly Christian because a nation is not a person.

  11. I’m willing to bet that 3/4 of the Republican Christians who want the USA to declare itself as a Christian nation and start “teaching the 10 Commandments” in schools, cannot name all 10 Commamdments themselves.

    “If MY people will pray, and turn from THEIR wicked ways, I will heal their land.”

      1. Rabindranath Ramcharan

        Ecclesiastes and Ephesians? Most of them aren’t able to tell the difference between Ecclesiastes and East McKeesport.

  12. One of the reasons America was founded was that the Pilgrims were attempting to escape religious mandates so that each person would have freedom when it came to religious beliefs. I lived in India for 8 years where I was a religious minority. When the Hindu prayers were broadcast overhead every morning and my children were forced to listen to this, the true meaning of, and need for, religious freedom became real to me like no other experience.

    1. Then you don’t understand the Pilgrims in America. They came here to escape persecution in Europe and to BUILD a Christian society, with Christian laws, here in the New World. Yes, they wanted Christian mandates of their own.

  13. Rabindranath Ramcharan

    People say they want the United States to be declared a “Christian nation”, but nobody seems to have thought that through to the point of saying which brand of “Christian” they’re talking about, or how the variety they choose is going to obtain hegemony over the others. King Ferdinand II of Bohemia tried it in 1618 and wound up with the Thirty Years’ War. In 21st century America, such a conflict would not be nearly as well organized.
    I don’t want my particular denomination to be either supreme over every other confession, nor do I want it to be persecuted and oppressed by whichever denomination comes out on top.
    It’s just a Bad Idea.

  14. This really is a silly discussion, involving a lot of deliberate obfuscation to smear religion in public life.

    The United States was PRESUMED to be a Christian nation at its founding, before its founding actually. The “God” appealed to in the Declaration was undeniably understood as none other than the monotheistic God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was presumed to be a Christian nation by the vast majority of its inhabitants for almost 200 years of its existence. It was presumed to be a Christian nation AS the 1st Amendment was being drafted and ratified. There is no conflict between the 1st Amendment and the declaration of the United States as a Christian nation. If there were, our forbearers would have noticed and noted it. They noted none.

    What State establishment of religion means is the government’s preference for a particular denomination or sect of CHRISTIANITY.

  15. Go through the teachings of Jesus, write them down. Then see how they don’t line up with the actions of the US or most US citizens who claim to be Christians.

    The results of this exercise should unequivocally prove we are not a Christian Nation, nor are most who claim to be Christians, truly born again followers of Christ and His teachings. So ever calling America a Christian Nation would be the height of hypocrisy. I can call myself a chair, but saying so, wouldn’t make me one.

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