In an interview with The Gospel Coalition, Russell Moore—president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention—answered the question, “Was American founded as a Christian nation?”
If the definition of “Christian nation” is a country in which a majority of people profess to be Christians, Moore says, then the U.S. is indeed a Christian nation.
“That’s not what most people mean, though, when they say ‘Christian nation,'” Moore says. “What they mean is the idea that God was in covenant with the United States of America in order to bless the United States of America as a special people, as a new Israel, as a group of people covenanted under Christianity. And the answer to that is clearly, ‘No.'”
Moore affirms that while the Founding Fathers were influenced by Christian ideas that emerged during the Enlightenment and Protestant Reformation, they did not found the U.S. as a Christian nation and created a clear separation of church and state. Listen Now
The belief that the United States is God's chosen nation with a special mission to the world has its origin in the second half of the nineteenth century, in the doctrine of manifest destiny - a geopolitical doctrine that I studied both in high school and university over 40 years ago. This doctrine was used to justify the territorial ambitions of US expansionists in the nineteenth century and has influenced our thinking ever since. It was a geopolitical theory whose adherents adopted a particular interpretation of the Bible to provide a rationale for their expansionism. They were not the first nor will they be the last to use passages from the Bible to rationalize and justify a political agenda.