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The Most Underappreciated Nation on Earth

June 6, 2013

Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other… — Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol I chap 17

Reading current headlines out of Washington D.C. can be frustrating. At times it may seem troubling that our nation continues to head in the wrong direction, and our leaders are exacerbating the problem and not correcting it. Contemplating further declines in the same direction, the question is sometimes raised: will there come a point where we’ll need to leave America and move elsewhere, much as the pilgrims did? On the other hand we don’t want to run from something without knowing what we’re running to

We should not abandon America unless there is a better place for our families

There are several resources which provide great information to help us answer this question. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development posts an annual “better life” ranking of its member nations on a balanced score of safety/crime rates, lifestyle, health, standard of living and work/life balance. On this basis the United States is usually in the top handful of nations – sometimes trailing a few Scandinavian nations, Australia, Switzerland and Canada. But is standard of living the primary criteria we should be using? What about morality and religious freedom?

Wikipedia publishes statistics on professing Christians as a % population which is as good an indicator as we can get probably, both for like-minded citizens and religious freedom generally.

Combining these two lists is an interesting exercise. Here are the current top 12 lifestyle nations along with their % professed Christianity…

Nation OECD Rank % Christian
Australia 1 61%
Sweden 2 73%
Canada 3 77%
Norway 4 86%
Switzerland 5 79%
USA 6 80%
Denmark 7 83%
Netherlands 8 39%
Iceland 9 95%
U.K. 10 53%
New Zealand 11 56%
Finland 12 81%

 

The United States of America is among the best and most Christian nations in the world!

Most citizens in America know this, but in our political and moral frustration it can be easy to forget. Look at the % professing Christianity in many former Christian strongholds – U.K. at only 53%! We have been in decline, but not as much as many other nations. Unless we want to move to Norway, we are doing okay here in the U.S.A. Also, given our size and variability, there are portions of the country which would rank even higher on these scales. (Hint: The stars at night are big and bright!) Even considered as a whole, though, we need to avoid being overly critical of our society or feel that it would be simple to do better.

The U.S. may be the 2nd best Christian culture the world has ever known
– 2nd only to the U.S. of the past!

The real wisdom in the U.S. system is the structure of our government. Our founding fathers’ Christian worldview (which was universal, as opposed to their faith, against which there did exist a tiny minority) insured that they knew that governments are managed by sinful people who are tempted to concentrate power. Just the balance and separation of powers alone is great proof of their wisdom and Christian worldview. The representative form of government they designed balances states’ power and citizens’ power – another innovation. A Republic with a President elected directly by the people – not a dictator, monarch, or even a Prime Minister elected by Parliament – insures that these two stores of power are accountable to the people, but with critical decisions being made by leaders who can study alternatives thoroughly. We are blessed not to be a Democracy!

Our economic system also give us real strength. We are as near to a large-scale free market system as has ever existed – much more so than any of the other nations on the list above. There is a great deal of debate about the wisdom of increasing government regulations put in place under the “general welfare” clause of the Constitution. Sadly, I think regulations are with us for the long-term, and even more sadly, some are truly necessary. A full free market system is impossible outside a fully Christian society (and even within one it would be challenging to achieve). Unfortunately man’s sinful nature basically insures that one individual/group will try to take unfair advantage of another, and that politicians will try to take advantage of that unfairness in the way that increases their power – partnering with the exploiters until public outrage forces a reversal, which inevitably comes overcompensated. That is the underlying dynamic behind every government regulation from child labor laws and anti-trust monopoly rules to the more recent Dodd-Frank banking regulations.

Of course we are disappointed to see the course that president and some of those representative leaders (from both parties) have taken in recent years, but governments from the beginning of time have been corrupted inefficient institutions! Our direction will hopefully be corrected from overindulgences – when the people of our nation wake up and realize that it needs to be corrected. Let us each do what we can to insure those around us are indeed awake! But let us stay committed to our nation in the meantime, and do our best to be salt (to preserve) and light (to enlighten).

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4 Comments
  1. Would it be right for Christians to leave?

  2. If things get bad enough, Yes. We are called to be salt and light to the world, but this does not necessarily mean we must stay in the country in which we’re born. If things get bad enough in comparison to other nations (my post points out this is not yet the case), our primary responsibilities as parents must take precedence and we must exit to a better place. God is sovereign in this but it is not wrong to expect Him to bless an effort such as the Pilgrims took.

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