Whatever we ONCE were, we are no longer a Christian nation. At least, not JUST. We are also a Jewish nation. A Muslim nation. A Buddhist nation and a Hindu nation and a nation of non believers. Even if we expelled every non Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?
Would it be James Dobson or Al Sharpton?
Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus which suggests slavery is ok? That eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the father? Or should we just stick with the Sermon on the Mount? The passage that is SO radical that it's doubtful that our own defense department would survive its application.
Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific values.
It requires that their proposals be subject to argument...amenable to reason.
I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, to take one example. But, if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I can't simply point to the teachings of my church or invoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of ALL faiths, including those with no faith at all.
Now, this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inherency of the Bible, as many Evangelicals do. But, in a pluralistic society, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other based on a common reality. It involves compromise. The art of what's possible and at some fundamental level, religion doesn't allow for compromise.
Any reconciliation between faith and democratic pluralism requires some sense of proportion. Even those who claim the Bible's inherency make distinctions between scriptural edicts, sensing that some passages, the 10 commandments, or belief in Christ's divinity, are central to the Christian faith while others are more culturally specific and maybe modify to accomodate modern life.
And the American people intuitively understand this.
Which is why the majority of Catholics use birth control and some of those opposed to gay marriage, nevertheless, are opposed to a constitutional ammendment to ban it.
Religious leadership needs to understand they don't have to accept such wisdom in counselling their flocks, but they should recognize this wisdom in their politics.