Russell Moore recently wrote an insightful piece at The Gospel Coalition titled, “Left Behind in America: Following Christ After Culture Wars.”
Here’s a sample,
The problem was that, from the beginning, Christian values were always more popular than the Christian gospel in American culture. That’s why one could speak with great acclaim, in almost any era of the nation’s history, of “God and country,” but then create cultural distance as soon as one mentioned “Christ and him crucified.” God was always welcome in American culture as the deity charged with blessing America. But the God who must be approached through the mediation of the blood of Christ was much more difficult to set to patriotic music or to “amen” in a prayer at the Rotary Club.
Now that Christians in America are being confronted with the fact that America isn’t a “Christian nation,” they are more and more awakening to the reality that America never was a “Christian nation” in any Christian sense of the word “Christian.”
In my experience (and my experience may not be reflective of reality more generally) I’ve found that this theme is readily apparent to many Christians in my generation (millennials) but is much more difficulty grasped or accepted by Christians of older generations who lived more of their lives in an environment in which this “Christian America” idea was pervasive.
However much this idea of a “Christian America” with its corresponding form of “Christianity” (i.e., the civil religion of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and enlightenment thought that gave birth to the “American experiment”) may have helped to keep America in moral check to some degree (and in some less than satisfying sense), I’m afraid it did the opposite to the nature of Christianity and people’s perception of the Gospel–it skewed them.