Date of Graduation

Summer 2012


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Martha Finch


religion and politics, religion of the founding fathers, culture wars, civil religion, the wall of separation between church and state, religion and the supreme court

Subject Categories



Since its founding, the United States of America has been influenced by individuals of faith and their public expressions of religion. From the nation's birth, both religion and secularism have played significant roles in the development of the nation's society, culture, and politics. Today, there appears to be a culture war between two main competing groups of ideologies driven by either a conservative or a progressive leaning worldview that ultimately manifests itself in the Republican or Democrat party platforms. This work is an attempt to challenge the presuppositions, biases, ideologies, and worldviews of both the author and the reader, with particular attention to discussing exactly what kind of nation the United States was founded as and what kind of nation it has become. At its core, this work challenges the notions that the nation is either a Christian or a secular nation. The two extreme voices and opposing interpretations of history in today's society that are specifically challenged are conservative Protestant evangelicals and secular progressives. This thesis takes a look at the influence and roles of religion during the founding era and focuses on how the concept of the separation of church and state was designed to impact public American culture. The common civil, or public, religious expression that permeates society is discussed as an answer to the Christian or secular nation debate. The ultimate goal is to seek an understanding and peace between warring interpretations so that compromise may lead the United States of America towards the best solutions for its current and future policies.


© Canaan Aaron Vermillion

Campus Only