Christian Nation? The United States in Popular Perception and Historical Reality

By T. Adams Upchurch | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
The American “Way”
Fabricating a New Creed for a Nascent Nation

THE NATIONAL PARADOX

The United States is a nation of paradoxes. It may seem trite to have to point that out, but it is necessary for establishing a context for the coming discussion. Consider some of the following examples. The United States is a country in which about 90 percent of the people believe in God, about 80 percent claim to believe in some version of Christianity, and perhaps 50 percent are actively involved in their churches and/or other religious activities, whether regularly or sporadically. It is also a country in which pornography, gambling, and brewing/distilling are all legal, multimillion dollar businesses. It is a country whose national capital, Washington, D.C., has no less than seventeen different references to the Judeo-Christian God on its federal government buildings and monuments, from the Capitol dome, rotunda, and both chambers of Congress, to the Library of Congress, the Dirksen Congressional Office Building, the Supreme Court, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. It is also a country where billboards and neon signs advertise sex shows, and where movies glorify violence and bloodshed. Consider a billboard on I-85 in South Carolina, for example, that blares, “Fireworks … Adult Novelties … Bibles, Wholesale.” It is a country whose national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” contains the words, “Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust’;” and whose

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