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Myths America Lives ByWhite Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning$
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Richard T. Hughes

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042065

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042065.001.0001

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The Myth of the Christian Nation

The Myth of the Christian Nation

The Early National Period

Chapter:
(p.82) Chapter Four The Myth of the Christian Nation
Source:
Myths America Lives By
Author(s):

Richard T. Hughes

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252042065.003.0004

While America’s founders sought to create a nation of religious freedom, not a Christian nation, Christians in the early nineteenth century effectively Christianized the American Republic through the Second Great Awakening. Over the course of American history, many whites have accepted the claim that America is a Christian nation. Blacks from an early date, however, have argued that Christian America is a hollow concept, informed by assumptions of white supremacy. In the nineteenth century, David Walker ridiculed the notion of Christian America, while Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells claimed that the idea of Christian America was a cover for horrendous crimes against blacks. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, blacks as disparate as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and James Cone unmasked the myth of a Christian America. By the twenty-first century, the collapse of Christian dominance in the United States could be traced, at least in part, to the complicity of white American Christians in the myth of White Supremacy. Many white Christians responded by attempting to restore a lost golden age, ignoring their complicity in the myth of White Supremacy that had helped bring on America’s fourth time of trial.

Keywords:   Christian America, Second Great Awakening, David Walker, Frederick Douglas, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, James Cone, Malcolm X

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