*It’s not a ‘Christian nation’

IT’S NOT A ‘CHRISTIAN NATION’…. The U.S. Constitution is, of course, an entirely secular document, but for years, the religious right movement and its allies have been anxious to declare the U.S. a “Christian Nation.”

It was great to hear President Obama, during a press conference in Turkey, set the record straight.

At a press conference in Turkey, President Obama casually rebuked the old chestnut that the United States is a Judeo-Christian nation.

“One of the great strengths of the United States,” the President said, “is … we have a very large Christian population — we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

Republicans are, not surprisingly, already criticizing Obama’s entirely accurate remarks, and it’s probably safe to assume the far-right will be thoroughly displeased.

But is there anything even remotely controversial about what the president actually said? We have a secular constitution that established a secular government. Our laws separate church from state. No religious tradition enjoys official sanction over any other. Of course we’re not a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.

The usual argument is that most of the U.S. population is Christian. That’s true, but irrelevant. Most of the U.S. population is white — does that make the United States a “white nation”? We also hear arguments that most of the Founding Fathers were Christians. That’s also true, but also irrelevant. Most of the framers were also men — does that make our country a “man’s nation”?

It’s time to retire this old conservative canard. I’m glad to see Obama help out.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.