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Rep. King Leans into Her Christian Nationalism

If there's one thing we can reliably expect from Rep. King, it's her tendency to make unabashedly Christian Nationalist statements, often without bothering to verify her sources. Her recent invocation of Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States demands closer scrutiny. Let's delve into the facts.

Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States (1892) does not establish the United States as a Christian nation. The ruling and its commentary have often been misinterpreted or misused to suggest that the Supreme Court declared the U.S. a Christian nation. Here’s a breakdown of the case and its implications:

Background of the Case

Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States involved a legal dispute over whether a church could hire a foreign clergyman under a contract, which seemed to be in violation of a federal law prohibiting the importation of foreign labor under certain contracts. The church argued that this law did not apply to religious ministers.

Supreme Court's Decision

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Church of the Holy Trinity, stating that the federal law was not intended to apply to religious workers. The Court emphasized the intent behind the legislation rather than a strict interpretation of the wording.

Misinterpretation of the Case

-Justice Brewer's Opinion: Justice David Brewer, in his opinion, included language that referenced the historical and cultural role of Christianity in the United States. He stated that “this is a Christian nation” in the sense that many American laws and societal norms were influenced by Christian traditions and values.

- Context: Brewer’s statement was an observation about the historical influence of Christianity on American society and laws, rather than a legal declaration of the United States as a Christian nation. His remarks were meant to provide context to the Court's decision, not to define the legal character of the nation.

Legal and Constitutional Standing

- No Legal Precedent: The statement does not carry legal weight and does not set a precedent for establishing the U.S. as a Christian nation. It is not part of the binding decision and does not affect the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

- First Amendment: The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ensures that the government does not establish an official religion, affirming the separation of church and state.


Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States acknowledged the cultural influence of Christianity historically but did not legally declare the United States a Christian nation. The case’s ruling focused on the specific legal issue of applying federal labor laws to religious workers, rather than making a broad constitutional statement about the nation's religious identity. The foundational principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state remain intact.

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