The furious debate in some quarters over whether America was born a “Christian nation” is ironic. The historical record shows that America was not born Christian, but grew to be very Christian centuries later. Some Religious Right activists believe that were it to be accepted as a fact that pre-1800 Americans were deeply Christian, a new light would be cast on current debates about where (if anywhere) to draw a line between Church and State today. In the sense of the Supreme Court’s search for “originalist” interpretations of the Constitution, Christian dogma would be an originalist justification for, say, reintroducing prayer into schools. But the story of Early American religion is, in fact, a quite different one.Read the rest of Was early America a Christian America?.
Claude S. Fischer
Claude S. Fischer is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972. He is the co-author with Michael Hout of Century of Difference: How American Changed in the Last One Hundred Years and the author of Made in America: A Social History of American Culture and Character (forthcoming from University of Chicago Press). Fischer received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York.
Posts by Claude S. Fischer:
In 2002 we reported that the fraction of American adults with no religious preference doubled from 7 to 14 percent during the 1990s. Data from this decade show that the trend away from organized religion continues, albeit at a slower pace. Our analysis of the entire time series, presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2009, led us to the conclusion that the trend probably started earlier than we had thought—probably around 1985, 1986, or 1987—and that our previous estimate of the rate of change was, consequently, too high.Read the rest of Unchurched believers.