At Religion Dispatches, religious studies professor Ivan Petrella argues that the United States would be best served by re-imagining itself as “a nation of multi-religious individuals,” rather than “a multi-religious nation”:
The United States lives two religious realities: In our makeup as a people, we’re at the forefront of religious development. But we’re at the tail-end when it comes to how our politics handles religion.
We’re at the forefront because we’re the most religious people among the rich industrial nations. We’re also the world’s most religiously diverse nation, with a dizzying array of Christianities, more Muslims than Episcopalians or Presbyterians, more Jews than Israel, and thriving communities of Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Wiccans, Santeros and others. And befitting a nation where twenty-seven percent of the population says “I do” to religiously mixed marriages, we’ve elected the first president that embodies the diversity of our make-up. The United States enjoys a level of religious effervescence second to none.
We’re at the tail-end, however, because our religious diversity vanishes when it comes in contact with our political culture and process. We’ve become a country that actually requires its politicians to take openly Christian positions if they are to be successful, a country that sets up what I call “Christian litmus tests” for candidates running for office, a country that is unwilling to accept an agnostic, atheist or non-Christian president. As David Domke and Kevin Coe write in their The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America, “politicians need not always walk the religious walk, but they had better be able to talk the religious talk.” And that talk is Christian.
Read the full piece here.