US Not a Christian Nation, But 'Fertile Ground' for Evangelism, Say Christian Leaders

After surveying a number of selected Christian leaders across the U.S., the National Association of Evangelicals has found that although 68 percent of these leaders do not believe the United States is a Christian nation, they do see it as one of the most fertile grounds for evangelism.

"Much of the world refers to America as a Christian nation, but most of our Christian leaders don't think so," Leith Anderson, the president of the NAE, said in a press release.

"The Bible only uses the word 'Christian' to describe people and not countries. Even those who say America is a Christian nation admit that there are lots of non-Christians and even anti-Christian beliefs and behaviors," he added.

The surveyed evangelical leaders insisted that although they would not currently call America a Christian nation, it is certainly a promising venue for evangelization, saying that American's current youth generation provides one of the "world's great mission fields."

While some believe that the United States is a Christian nation because it was founded on Christian principles and consists of a majority of Christians, others argue that you cannot put a label on a country filled with a diversity of people.

"No nation can be Christian or non-Christian. Only the individuals of a nation can ascribe to personal faith in Christ," Paul Fleischman, President Emeritus of National Network of Youth Ministries, said in the NAE press release.

"One can say, however, that our nation was founded in part on Christian principles, yet a majority of our people no longer follow them to an extent that differs noticeably from those who do not claim to be Christians," he added.

Critics of President Barack Obama and his administration argue that he has attempted to make the U.S. a more secularized nation through such campaigns as his H.H.S. mandate, which forces religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, and his outspoken approval of same-sex marriage.

In a 2006 speech to Sojourners, a self-described progressive Christian group, then-Sen. Obama said: "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation – at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers."

In an article written by CNN on July 4, 2011, guest columnity Kenneth C. Davis argued that the U.S. is not a Christian nation because of Thomas Jefferson's famous call for a "separation of church and state."

In an opinion piece written for CBS, columnist Brian Montopoli suggested that the definition of "Christian nation" differs from person to person.

"If a 'Christian nation' is simply a nation made largely of Christians, then America is undeniably one. Despite the increase in non-religious Americans, they are still outnumbered more than 6-1 by Christians, according to Gallup," Montopoli wrote.

"But if a 'Christian nation' is something else – a nation on which laws, behavior and policy are fundamentally tied to Christian ideals – then the question is more complex. The legal system has an undeniable basis in the Christian conception of morality, as does our societal conception of right and wrong," he added.

The June 2012 Evangelical Leaders Survey was conducted among its 101-member board of directors, which is comprised of leaders of various evangelical organizations, including pastors, publishers, universities presidents, and denominational leaders.

NAE spokeswoman Sarah Kropp told The Los Angeles Times that although the survey interviewed only 101 people, it served sufficient in "[giving] you a look into evangelical thought."

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