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On America as a “Christian” nation

Summary

Marilynne Robinson reflects on Christians’ pursuit of power in the US today.

Summary

Marilynne Robinson reflects on Christians’ pursuit of power in the US today.

Transcript

I just have to say [laughter] that I think for a lot of these people, they have been more interested in Christianity as a route to power than they have been in Christianity as an ethical/moral/theological/metaphysical/aesthetic phenomenon.

Interviewer: So is the idea of a Christian nation, is that also a mistake?

Robinson: Again, you know, since we were basically populated by people that came from Christian cultures, in a demographically general way, it’s accurate enough to call us a Christian civilisation. This really – despite the ways that people who consider them[selves] conservatives now talk about it, the dear old founders were very careful to try to free us from the expectation that there would be one single religious descriptor for this civilisation, that there would be a religious test for office or any of that sort of thing.

It’s always been a complicated thing. I think that the kind of Christianity that took hold, especially in New England, was a kind of Christianity that did not believe it should be dominant in political contexts. And I think that’s a valuable tradition that people have somehow managed not to learn in too many cases.