Cultural Christians

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Cultural Christians are nonreligious persons who adhere to Christian values and appreciate Christian culture. As such, these individuals usually identify themselves as culturally Christians, and are often seen by practicing believers as nominal Christians. This kind of identification may be due to various factors, such as family background, personal experiences, and the social and cultural environment in which they grew up. [1]


Contrasting terms are "biblical Christian", [2] "committed Christian", [3] or "believing Christian". [4]

The term "Cultural Christian" may be specified further by Christian denomination, e.g. "Cultural Catholic", "Cultural Lutheran", and "Cultural Anglican". [5] [6] [7]



The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has identified as cultural Christian, calling himself an "Orthodox atheist" in one of his interviews. [8]


French Deists of the 18th and early 19th centuries include Napoleon. The current President of France, Emmanuel Macron, identified himself as an "Agnostic Catholic". [9] [10]


Traditionally, Christianity has been considered a "foreign religion" (Chinese :洋教; pinyin :yáng jiào, means non-local religions) in China, including all the negative connotations of foreignness common in China. This attitude only started to change at the end of the 20th century. In China, the term "Cultural Christians" (Chinese :文化基督徒; pinyin :wénhuà jīdūtú) can refer to Chinese intellectuals devoted to the study of Christian theology, ethics, and literature, and often contribute to a movement known as Sino-Christian theology. Some of the earliest figures in this movement in the late-1980s and 1990s, such as Liu Xiaofeng and He Guanghu, were sympathetic to Christianity but chose not to associate with any local church. [11] Since the 1990s, a newer generation of these Cultural Christians have been more willing to associate with local churches, and have often drawn on Calvinist theology. [12] [13]


The liberal writer Benedetto Croce, in his book "Perché non Possiamo non Dirci Cristiani" ("why we can't not call ourselves Christians"), expressed the view that Roman Catholic traditions and values formed the basic culture of all Italians, believers and non-believers, and described Christianity primarily as a cultural revolution.

The Netherlands

The provinces North Brabant and Limburg in the Netherlands are historically mostly Roman Catholic, therefore many of their people still use the term and some traditions as a base for their cultural identity rather than as a religious identity. Since the War of Independence the Catholics were systematically and officially discriminated against by the Protestant government until the second half of the 20th century, which had a major influence on the economic and cultural development of the southern part of the Netherlands.

From the Reformation to the 20th century, Dutch Catholics were largely confined to certain southern areas in the Netherlands, and they still tend to form a majority or large minority of the population in the southern provinces of the Netherlands, North Brabant and Limburg.

However, with modern population shifts and increasing secularization, these areas tend to have fewer and fewer religious Catholics. Since 1960 the emphasis on many Catholic concepts including hell, the devil, sinning and Catholic traditions like confession, kneeling, the teaching of catechism and having the host placed on the tongue by the priest rapidly disappeared, and these concepts are nowadays seldom or not at all found in modern Dutch Catholicism. The southern area still has original Catholic traditions including Carnival, pilgrimages, rituals like lighting candles for special occasions and field chapels and crucifixes in the landscape, giving the southern part of the Netherlands a distinctive Catholic atmosphere, with which the population identifies in contrast to the rest of the Netherlands. The vast majority of the (self-identifying) Catholic population in the Netherlands is now largely irreligious in practice. Research among Catholics in the Netherlands in 2007 shows that even among religious Dutch Catholics only 27% can be regarded as theist, 55% as ietsist, 17% as agnostic and 1% as atheist. [14]

United Kingdom

Outspoken English atheist Richard Dawkins has described himself in several interviews as a "cultural Christian" and a "cultural Anglican". [15] [16] [17] In his book The God Delusion , he calls Jesus Christ praiseworthy for his ethics. [18]

United States

Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father of the United States, considered himself part of Christian culture, despite his doubts about the divinity of Jesus. [19] [20] [21] [22] [23]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Deism is the philosophical position and rationalistic theology that generally rejects revelation as a source of divine knowledge, and asserts that empirical reason and observation of the natural world are exclusively logical, reliable, and sufficient to determine the existence of a Supreme Being as the creator of the universe. More simply stated, Deism is the belief in the existence of God solely based on rational thought without any reliance on revealed religions or religious authority. Deism emphasizes the concept of natural theology.

Irreligion is the active rejection of religion in general, or any of its more specific organized forms, as distinct from absence of religion. The Oxford English dictionary defines it as want of religion; hostility to or disregard of religious principles; irreligious conduct. Irreligion takes many forms, ranging from the casual and unaware to full-fledged philosophies such as atheism and agnosticism, secular humanism and antitheism. Social scientists tend to define irreligion as a purely naturalist worldview that excludes a belief in anything supernatural. The broadest and loosest definition, serving as an upper limit, is the lack of religious identification, though many non-identifiers express metaphysical and even religious beliefs. The narrowest and strictest is subscribing to positive atheism.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liberal Christianity</span> Emphasizes the importance of reason and experience over doctrinal authority

Liberal Christianity, also known as Liberal Theology and historically as Christian Modernism, is a movement that interprets Christian teaching by taking into consideration modern knowledge, science and ethics. It emphasizes the importance of reason and experience over doctrinal authority. Liberal Christians view their theology as an alternative to both atheistic rationalism and theologies based on traditional interpretations of external authority, such as the Bible or sacred tradition.

Anarchists have traditionally been skeptical of or vehemently opposed to organized religion. Nevertheless, some anarchists have provided religious interpretations and approaches to anarchism, including the idea that the glorification of the state is a form of sinful idolatry.

Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities and any statements to the contrary are false ones. The English term 'atheist' was used at least as early as the sixteenth century and atheistic ideas and their influence have a longer history.

Criticism of atheism is criticism of the concepts, validity, or impact of atheism, including associated political and social implications. Criticisms include positions based on the history of science, philosophical and logical criticisms, findings in both the natural and social sciences, theistic apologetic arguments, arguments pertaining to ethics and morality, the effects of atheism on the individual, or the assumptions that underpin atheism.

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Religion in Europe has been a major influence on today's society, art, culture, philosophy and law. The largest religion in Europe is Christianity, but irreligion and practical secularisation are strong. Three countries in Southeastern Europe have Muslim majorities. Ancient European religions included veneration for deities such as Zeus. Modern revival movements of these religions include Heathenism, Rodnovery, Romuva, Druidry, Wicca, and others. Smaller religions include the Dharmic religions, Judaism, and some East Asian religions, which are found in their largest groups in Britain, France, and Kalmykia.

Ietsism is an unspecified belief in an undetermined transcendent reality. It is a Dutch term for a range of beliefs held by people who, on the one hand, inwardly suspect – or indeed believe – that "there must be something undefined beyond the mundane and that which can be known or can be proven", but on the other hand do not accept or subscribe to the established belief system, dogma or view of the nature of a deity offered by any particular religion. Some related terms in English are agnostic theism, eclecticism, deism and spiritual but not religious.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christian atheism</span> Form of Christianity rejecting God

Christian atheism is a form of Christianity that rejects the theistic claims of Christianity, but draws its beliefs and practices from Jesus' life and teachings as recorded in the New Testament Gospels and other sources.

Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.

The religious views of Thomas Jefferson diverged widely from the traditional Christianity of his era. Throughout his life, Jefferson was intensely interested in theology, religious studies, and morality. Jefferson was most comfortable with Deism, rational religion, Theistic rationalism, and Unitarianism. He was sympathetic to and in general agreement with the moral precepts of Christianity. He considered the teachings of Jesus as having "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man," yet he held that the pure teachings of Jesus appeared to have been appropriated by some of Jesus' early followers, resulting in a Bible that contained both "diamonds" of wisdom and the "dung" of ancient political agendas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christian deism</span> Philosophy of religion

Christian deism is a standpoint in the philosophy of religion stemming from Christianity and Deism. It refers to Deists who believe in the moral teachings—but not the divinity—of Jesus. Corbett and Corbett (1999) cite John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as exemplars.

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This is a list of articles in philosophy of religion.

Deism, the religious attitude typical of the Enlightenment, especially in France and England, holds that the only way the existence of God can be proven is to combine the application of reason with observation of the world. A Deist is defined as "One who believes in the existence of a God or Supreme Being but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature and reason." Deism was often synonymous with so-called natural religion because its principles are drawn from nature and human reasoning. In contrast to Deism there are many cultural religions or revealed religions, such as Judaism, Trinitarian Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and others, which believe in supernatural intervention of God in the world; while Deism denies any supernatural intervention and emphasizes that the world is operated by natural laws of the Supreme Being.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Irreligion in Turkey</span>

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Catholicism and Deism are two theologies that have opposed each other in matters of the role of God in the world. Deism is the philosophical belief which posits that although God exists as the uncaused First Cause, responsible for the creation of the universe, God does not interact directly with that subsequently created world. As deism is not organized, its adherents differ widely in important matters of belief, but all are in agreement in denying the significance of revelation in Catholic Scripture and Tradition. Deists argue against Catholicism by either, only considering Scripture to be a helpful moral tool, or denying: its divine character, the infallibility of the Church and Traditions, and the validity of its evidence as a complete manifestation of the will of God. Deism is first considered to have manifested itself in England towards the latter end of the seventeenth century.


  1. James D. Mallory, Stanley C. Baldwin, The kink and I: a psychiatrist's guide to untwisted living, 1973, p. 64
  2. Patrick Morley, The Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems Men Face (1997), Biblical Christian or Cultural Christian?
  3. Richard W. Rousseau, Christianity and Judaism: the deepening dialogue (1983), p. 112
  4. Postmodern theology: Christian faith in a pluralist world, Harper & Row, 1989 . Joseph C. Aldrich, Life-style evangelism: crossing traditional boundaries to reach the unbelieving world , 1983
  5. Rautio, Pekka (15 August 2017). "Lutheranism has provided the foundations of the Nordic welfare state". University of Helsinki . Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  6. Rachel Zoll, What would 'cultural Catholic' Sotomayor mean for Supreme Court?, Associated Press, 6/3/2009
  7. Stoyan Zaimov (4 March 2013). "Richard Dawkins: I Guess I'm a Cultural Christian". The Christian Post. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  8. "Belarus president visits Vatican". BBC News. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  9. "France's new president is a 'zombie Catholic'". Catholic News Agency.
  10. "Meeting with Pope puts Macron's religious views in spotlight". The Local. 25 June 2018.
  11. Fällman, Fredrik (2008). "Hermeneutical conflict? Reading the Bible in Contemporary China". In Starr, Chloë F. (ed.). Reading Christian Scriptures in China. New York: T & T Clark. pp. 49–60. ISBN   978-0567638465.
  12. Fällman, Fredrik (2013). "Calvin, Culture and Christ? Developments of Faith Among Chinese Intellectuals". In Lim, Francis Khek Gee (ed.). Christianity in Contemporary China: Socio-cultural Perspectives. London: Routledge. pp. 153–168. ISBN   978-0415528467.
  13. Chow, Alexander (2014). "Calvinist Public Theology in Urban China Today" (PDF). International Journal of Public Theology. 8 (2): 158–175. doi:10.1163/15697320-12341340. hdl: 20.500.11820/9dc682b5-4fe2-4022-932a-89d466dd71c1 .
  14. God in Nederland' (1996–2006), page 42, by Ronald Meester, G. Dekker, ISBN   9789025957407
  15. "Dawkins: I'm a cultural Christian". BBC News. 10 December 2007. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  16. "Q&A with Richard Dawkins: 'I guess I'm a cultural Christian'". Charleston City Paper. 4 March 2013. Archived from the original on 7 March 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  17. "Richard Dawkins: I Guess I'm a Cultural Christian". The Christian Post. 4 March 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  18. The God Delusion, page 284
  19. Jayne, Allen (2000), Jefferson's Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy and Theology traces TJ's sources and emphasizes his incorporation of Deist theology into the Declaration.
  20. Franklin, Benjamin (1958) [1771]. Autobiography and other writings. Cambridge: Riverside. p. 52.
  21. Olson, Roger (19 October 2009). The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity and Diversity. InterVarsity Press. ISBN   9780830826957. Other Deists and natural religionists who considered themselves Christians in some sense of the word included Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
  22. Boller, Paul F (1996), Not so!: popular myths about America from Columbus to Clinton, p. 31
  23. Boller, Paul F (1963), George Washington & religion, p. 16, ISBN   9780870740213 , retrieved 5 March 2011, ...the father of his country... died as he had lived, in dignity and peace; but he left behind him not one word to warrant the belief that he was other than a sincere deist