An evangelical group that claims to stand up for religious liberty is circulating fliers that attack President Obama for doing just that. Focus on the Family, a conservative religious organization that is running evangelical voter turnout for Mitt Romney, is mailing out to Iowans a flier that misquotes Obama as saying, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation.”
Obama’s real quote, which has been evaluated by FactCheck.org, actually adds the word ‘just,’ and goes on to add more explanation:
Given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.
As Focus on the Family is usually the first to point out, freedom of religion is a founding principle for the United States. But that includes the freedom to practice a religion outside of Christianity, assuring religious minorities like Jews and Muslims that the US is not, in fact, a Christian nation.
The narrative that Obama is somehow anti-Christian is a part of the right’s attempt to frame Obama as a foreigner who is trying to undermine American values. It also goes along with the broader effort by religious conservatives to paint Democrats as having a war on Christianity (the ‘War on Christmas,’ specifically, has been invoked by the religious right). But the truth is that religious minorities are much smaller than people are wont to estimate.