America is a What Nation?

Within decades after Christianity –then a sect of Judaism– began, new versions with various takes on Jesus’ teaching emerged. By the 300s, schisms began –the major one between Roman and Eastern Church was fueled in part by a debate over whether or not the communion wafer should be made from leavened or unleavened bread.

Martin Luther wrote his thesis, the Reformation began, and many more sects of Christianity developed (recall, if you will, Henry VIII of England), some of whom left for the New World to practice their version faiths in freedom. Their versions.

As R. Matthew Poteat points out

[I]n early America, as today, Christianity was not monolithic. There were numerous and myriad Christian denominations: Quakers, Anabaptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, German and Dutch Reformed, Huguenots, Unitarians and others.. Unlike today, however, there was much less tolerance or ecumenicalism between these groups.

Indeed, until the mid-20th century, most Americans did not consider Catholics to be properly Christian or properly American.

New England Puritans only accepted their narrow definition of Christianity, banishing heretics and dissenters, and in extreme cases branding, torturing, and even executing them. The persecution and murder of Mormons during the 19th century was not only tolerated, but encouraged. Jews, like Catholics, were often suspiciously regarded as un-American outsiders.

Even today I still hear people say

Catholics and Christians

kind of overlooking that they are same thing.

Hoodoo, voodoo, and Santeria practitioners all call on aspects of the Christian faith in varying degrees, as do a variety of New Age beliefs. Jesus gets plenty of play. So what kind of Christian nation is America? Which sect of Christianity? Which translation of the Bible, which version of the Creed?

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