One reason that the Christian nation declaration has been so misinterpreted is that modern commentators have failed to appreciate the nuances in Brewer's statements and the historical context within which they were made.
Though primarily an extra-legal concept, the Christian nation maxim was also embraced by judges, lawyers and legal commentators.
This Essay will examine both the Holy Trinity decision and its author within the context of its time to discover the legal significance of the declaration that "America is a Christian nation.
However, to call Brewer a social Darwinist or to write off his Christian nation declaration as the ramblings of a religious ideologue oversimplifies his personal philosophy which was informed, but not necessarily controlled, by his deep faith.
115) As the nation entered the final two decades of the century, however, the de facto Protestant establishment was breaking down, with some judges siding with Catholic and Jewish claimants while openly declaring that America was no longer a Christian nation.
118) Unlike earlier court decisions that had espoused the Christian nation maxim,(119) Holy Trinity raised no issues of constitutional significance but called merely for the interpretation of a minor federal immigration statute.
Warren because America was a Christian nation where the law recognized the importance of Christianity and accommodated its practice.
However, not to be dissuaded, Brewer provided several pages of support for how America was a Christian nation, quoting extensively from colonial charters and early state constitution provisions that acknowledged God or recognized Protestantism.
Other evidence of the Christian nation maxim was found in the customs and practices of the people, the text of oaths that referenced God, the near universal observance of the Sabbath and the proliferation of Christian churches and charitable organizations.
To add mystery to Brewer's motive, his discussion of the Christian nation maxim lacked a distinct polemical quality; it was as if Brewer was relating the consensus view of a historical fact.
152) Through two works in particular, American Citizenship(153) and The United States A Christian Nation,(154) both based on a series of college lectures, Brewer expanded on the themes presented in Holy Trinity.
So it is that we are regarded among the nations of the world as a Christian nation.
169) In this sense, America was considered a Christian nation in order to distinguish it from non-Christian cultures that existed in other parts of the world.
Assuming this is what Brewer meant when he referred to America as a Christian nation, his rationale for integrating the maxim into the Holy Trinity decision becomes clearer.
222) In a related vein, Brewer likely included the Christian nation discussion as a way of answering critics and naysayers who claimed that Christianity was no longer relevant.