A changing landscape

‘Judeo-Christian’ terminology gained prominence after Second World War, but no longer reflects today’s spiritual diversity

It’s common for people to think of Canada and the U.S. as being “Judeo-Christian” nations. By that, we mean the two countries were founded on Christian and Jewish principles.

I’ve never actually wondered where that idea came from. I just assumed it was always true. So I was surprised to learn it actually originated in the middle of the last century in the U.S.

I made that discovery after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used it in a conference call with conservative American pastors about a new human rights report.

During the call Pompeo talked about returning America “to the fundamental moorings of the Judeo-Christian tradition on which this country was founded.”

That remark prompted James Loeffler, who teaches Jewish history at the University of Virginia, to say that wasn’t true —America was not founded on that tradition.

Writing in The Atlantic, he said the idea of America as Judeo-Christian nation first appeared during the Second World War, when Americans tried to make sense of their country’s role in repelling the Nazi assault on Western civilization.


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