My buck-naked definition of what counts as “Christian” includes: the resurrection of Jesus; the Trinity; the inauguration of the Kingdom of God embodied through the church; non-violence; and the radical equality of male, female, Jew, Greek, slave, and free.
Adherents to the Christian nation myth focus on the artifacts of civil religion being followed in the early days of the nation: references to Deity, use of the Bible, prayers and convocations, and so on.
However, this is a pretty anemic definition of “Christian.” If we say that the nation has Christian origins, that implies that ceremonial religion—with rare reference to the Trinity, the resurrection, and so on—is a sufficient enough definition of “Christian.”
It also means that we’re okay that saying only white, landowning men being eligible to lead is “Christian.” That the exclusion of women is “Christian.” That the violent subjugation of Black bodies is “Christian.” That the legalization of white supremacy is “Christian.” That genocide against indigenous peoples is “Christian.” That violent rebellion against an empire is “Christian.” As long as we have the magic wand of “One nation under God” over these evil practices, then we can claim the nation has always been “Christian.”
Of course, modern folks will say, “No, of course we don’t mean those things.” But that then admits that whatever religion the Founding Fathers baked into our nation, it was so watered-down in its content, so bloodless in its convictions, so powerless in its ability to transform, it was unable to correct all of the atrocities above. It’s a wonder why anyone would bother to argue it was in fact Christian at all.
Let’s not slander the reputation of Christianity by confusing it with the supposedly God-ordained violent, racist, and misogynistic underpinnings of our nation’s founding.
Let’s not insult our Black, indigenous, and female neighbors by insinuating that our supposedly Christian heritage, while harmful to them, is good enough for us, so it should be good enough for everybody.
If we must choose between the way of Jesus or whatever civil religion was concocted by a bunch of white, landowning men in the 1700s, let’s chose the way of Jesus every time.