Did God Intend America to Be a Promised Land? 

Hashem said to Avram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father's house to the land that I will show you. 




(the israel bible)

January 30, 2023

3 min read

The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey on the state of the nation changed from a political analysis to a religious commentary when they asked Americans whether “God intended America to be a new promised land. Half of evangelical Americans believed that the USA was indeed the promised land and a significant number were willing to take up arms to defend it as such.


The PRRI survey was conducted between September 1-11, 2022 by PRRI among a representative sample of 2,523 adults (age 18 and up) living in all 50 states in the United States. 

74%  of respondents said things in the country are going in the wrong direction, compared with 24% who said the country is moving in the right direction. This was divided along partisan lines as 93% of Republicans and 76% of independents said the country was moving in the wrong direction, compared with 53% of Democrats. This was also divided along religious lines as 93% of white evangelical Protestants said the country was going in the wrong direction. White Catholics (81%) and white mainline Protestants (76%) largely agreed. Three in four other Christians (75%) said the same, as did 72% of religiously unaffiliated Americans, 65% of non-Christian religious Americans, 60% of Hispanic Catholics, and 59% of Black Protestants.

66% of Republicans believed things have changed for the worse since the 1950s, compared with 50% of independents and only 30% of Democrats.

71% of white evangelical Protestants said the country has changed for the worse since the 1950s, as did 57% of other Christians and 53% of white Catholics and 51% of white mainline Protestants. 

71% of people who said the country has gotten worse agreed that things have gotten so far off track that true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country. 


The survey then turned spiritual as they asked if people believed that the USA was the promised land. 31% of the general public agreed that “God intended America to be a new promised land where European Christians could create a society that could be an example to the rest of the world.” 49% of Republicans (49%) agreed with this statement, compared with 26% of independents and only 18% of Democrats.

50% of white evangelical Protestants agreed but other white Christians were less likely to do so: 37% of white mainline Protestants and 36% of white Catholics said God intended America to be a new promised land. 44% percent of other Christians and 32% of Hispanic Catholics agreed with the statement, as did 22% of Black Protestants, 22% of non-Christian religious Americans, and 16% of religiously unaffiliated Americans.

32% of white Americans and 33% of multiracial or other-race Americans agreed with this statement, as did 29% of Hispanic Americans and 23% of Black Americans. White Americans without a four-year college degree were almost twice as likely as those with a four-year degree to agree (39% vs. 20%).

Additionally, people who agreed that things have gotten so far off track that true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country were more likely than those who disagreed with that statement to say God intended America to be a new promised land (51% vs. 27%).


The belief that America is the promised land was an ideology behind the founding of the United States. This was expressed by John Cotton, a prominent minister in England when in 1630 he preached to a group departing from an English port to settle in Massachusetts. He said God appoints “a place for a people” and made repeated reference to the story from the biblical book of Exodus in which God leads the Israelites “from one Country to another.” Cotton continued: “It is a land of promise, where they have provision for soul as well as for body.” Within three years Cotton followed those colonists and settled in Boston, where he had an active preaching ministry. 

When this Biblical concept based on God’s promise to Abraham and the land of Israel was applied to the developing continent, it transformed into the ideology of Manifest Destiny, the cultural belief in the 19th-century United States that settlers were destined to expand across North America. Similar to the Biblical promise to the Jewish forefathers, Manifest Destiny granted the European immigrants the right to land based on the perceived virtues of the American people and their institutions.

Historian William Weeks wrote in 2002  that Manifest Destiny, which became the guiding principle of US policy in the 18th century, was based “in the faith in the nation’s divinely ordained destiny to succeed in this mission.” Or, as the contemporary historian Conrad Cherry wrote, “America is a nation called to a special destiny by God.” He stated that the British and especially the New England Puritans carried with them a “demanding sense of Providential purpose.”

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