The American Creed?

*Posted by Winston Hottman

In his recent inaugural address, President Obama emphasized America’s common creed as articulated in the opening of the Declaration of Independence (“We the people…”).

Explicit references to an American “creed” are helpful in that they dispel the myth of a complete separation of religion and politics. Creeds, whether the creeds of America or the early church or any other community, serve to define a people and articulate their fundamental values. Christians are often unaware of both the religious nature of national creeds and the political nature of the creeds of Christendom.

As such, references to an “American creed” help to raise important questions for Christians in the US, questions that often remain unasked and, obviously, unanswered. Does America have a creed? If so, what is it? Is that creed compatible with the creeds of Christianity? To what extent should Christians allow themselves to be defined by and committed to this American creed?

While the treatment of such questions is far beyond the scope of this post, I did come across a stimulating discussion over at the Texas Faith blog of the Dallas Morning News. I would recommend checking out the discussion there as religious leaders of various Christian and non-Christian traditions attempt to define the American creed.

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