While a growing group of scholars warn against viewing the United States as a Christian nation, new research shows that many Americans see a connection between the Constitution and God.
More than half of American adults (55%) believe the Constitution is inspired by God, according to the Faith in America survey, published in March by Deseret News and Marist Poll.
The Deseret-Marist survey used a yes or no question to ask about the origins of the Constitution, which may help explain why it found higher support for the divinely inspired idea than others. recent surveys.
The Pew Research Center reported last fall that only 18% of American adults think the Constitution is “God-inspired (and) reflects God’s vision for America.” This survey gave respondents more detailed options to choose from, and most (67%) said that “the Constitution was written by humans and reflects their vision, not necessarily God’s vision”.
Taken together, the polls show that many Americans are at least open to the idea that divine inspiration helped produce the Constitution. The two found that observant Christians — and white evangelical Protestants in particular — are particularly likely to think God played a role, and more Republicans embrace the idea than Democrats.
Americans’ beliefs about the Constitution and their beliefs about the US government’s relationship to religion, more broadly, have come into the spotlight in recent years as scholars strive to raise awareness of a concept called “nationalism.” Christian”.
According to these scholars, as well as some religious leaders and political pundits, support for the idea that God inspired America’s founding documents or that the country is meant to be a Christian nation can become problematic when paired with d other related beliefs.
Intense Christian nationalists are often exclusive and reject the country’s promise of religious freedom for all, Andrew Whitehead, co-author of “Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States,” told the Deseret News last year. .
In its most extreme forms, Christian nationalism is “a threat to a pluralistic democratic society”, he said.
Whitehead’s research has shown that support for Christian nationalism can influence people’s ideas about seemingly unrelated political issues. For example, he found that “a person’s degree of adherence to Christian nationalism is one of the strongest predictors of their openness to gun control.”
“For Christian nationalists, the gun control debate is not just about guns. This is a God-given blessing of the right to bear arms. Any attempt to limit this right is a denial of fundamental freedoms instituted by God,” Whitehead wrote in an article about his research for The Washington Post.
In other words, believing that God was and is intimately involved in the workings of American politics raises the stakes of the debate. If you see the world through a Christian nationalist lens, a challenge to the Second Amendment, which grants the right to bear arms, might look like an attack on God.
If that idea makes you anxious, you might be relieved to learn that Americans, in general, have balanced opinions about which parts of the Constitution were divinely inspired.
While 55% of American adults say the Constitution, as a whole, was inspired by God, only 37% say the Second Amendment was, according to the Deseret News and Marist Poll’s Faith in America survey. By contrast, 62% of Americans say the First Amendment, which grants the rights to free speech and religious exercise, among other things, was inspired by God.
“Americans are less convinced that divine inspiration played a role in the Second Amendment,” the researchers wrote in the survey report, noting that about half (53%) of Christians believe God did not. not inspired the right to bear arms.
The Deseret News-Marist survey was conducted in January among 1,653 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.