A new poll from the Pew Research Center has found that 49% of Americans believe the Bible should influence American law to some capacity. Of American adults, 23% say the Bible should have “a great deal” of influence on U.S. laws and 26% say it should play “some” role.
This is contrasted with the 50% of Americans who believe the Bible should influence American law “not much” or “not at all.”
According to Pew, “among U.S. Christians, two-thirds (68%) want the Bible to influence U.S. laws at least some, and among white evangelical Protestants, this figure rises to about nine-in-ten (89%).”
Additionally, 51% of Catholics believe the Bible should help inform U.S. laws, and 21% of those who are self-described as “unaffiliated” with any specific religion say the Bible should play such a role.
The poll was also broken down by party, with 67% of Republican or leans Republican voters, and 33% of Democrat or lean Democrat voters believing the Bible should influence U.S. laws at least to “some” extent.
Pew Research also broke up the poll results into responses by age group and found that older generations are significantly more likely to believe the Bible should play an important role in American governance compared to younger generations. Whereas 64% of those ages 65+ believe the Bible should have at least some impact on U.S. laws, only 30% of those ages 18-30 felt the same way.
This poll from Pew highlights a central question in American public policy: Was the United States founded as a distinctly Christian nation?
Andrew Seidel, an avowed atheist and lawyer at the liberal Freedom From Religion Foundation, argues that America was not founded as anything remotely resembling a Christian nation. “Counter the pernicious notion that we are a Christian nation or founded on Judeo-Christian principles,” Seidel told the crowd in a speech he gave in 2011. “We must prevent that myth from growing and becoming entangled in precedent.”
However, scholar Daniel Dreisbach, professor in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology at American University in Washington, D.C., argues exactly the opposite.
In a speech Dreisbach gave to The Heritage Foundation in 2017, he quoted political scientist Donald Lutz who’s research has shown that during the American founding, “the Bible was cited more frequently than any European writer or school of thought such as the Enlightenment. The Bible accounted for approximately one-third of all the citations in the political literature” at the time.
“I think it’s safe to say that the Founders read the Bible,” Dreisbach pronounced. He has argued the same thesis in his 2017 book, Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers.
For further reading on this topic, visit Focus on the Family’s Bookstore website to view Forged in Faith: How Faith Shaped the Birth of a Nation 1607-1776.
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Photo by Joel Muniz