A lot of attention from liberal groups with a specific agenda on the subject, a fact left out of the World News story, but revealed in an ABCNews.com article which led with how "two groups dedicated to the separation of church and state are now speaking out against her, arguing that she is misreading the founders' intent."
Dan Harris began his Tuesday report: "This latest Palin-provoked controversy is the result of these comments on YouTube." Palin, in poor-quality bouncing video, could be heard saying "God truly has shed his grace on thee, on this country." Harris quoted Palin as asserting it is "mindboggling to suggest that America is not a Christian nation." He countered: "Mainstream historians say no, that if you look at the early documents, including personal letters, it's very clear that the founders did not want to make Christianity the official religion."
Palin, however, never said anything about an "official" religion, so could just mean that as a practical matter the nation is Christian since it was founded on Christian principles espoused the majority of the Founding Fathers, that nearly all current elected officials pay homage to Christianity no matter their level of faith and that the vast majority of Americans who are religious adhere to a Christian faith.
[UPDATE: Confirming the commonality of the view the U.S. is a Christian country, in a post citing this item in the "Under God " section of the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog, David Waters recalled : "According to a Newsweek poll last year , 62 percent of Americans consider the U.S. a Christian nation (down from 71 percent in 2005)."]
Nonetheless, Harris pursued his case against Palin: "The Founders left out any mention of God or Jesus in the Constitution" and "then in the First Amendment, they specifically outlawed the establishment of any state religion. And, by the way, Thomas Jefferson, the man who wrote in the Declaration of Independence that 'we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights,' he was a deist, not a Christian."
Even assuming Harris' history lesson is accurate and Palin has misunderstood the founders, what explains ABC's news judgment to turn some bad video on YouTube, seen by few, into a network news story? It seems to reflect mainstream media obsession with Palin, never wanting to miss a chance to ridicule her.
The online posting, "Sarah Palin's 'Christian Nation' Remarks Spark Debate: Advocates of Church-State Separation Say Palin Is Distorting Founders' Intent ," highlighted how ABC was doing the bidding of particular political activists:
Is America a Christian nation?The other group: something called the "Secular Coalition for America."
Sarah Palin said on Friday that it's "mind-boggling" to suggest otherwise.
But two groups dedicated to the separation of church and state are now speaking out against her, arguing that she is misreading the founders' intent.
"It's incredibly hypocritical that Sarah Palin, who disapproves of government involvement in just about anything, now suddenly wants the government to help people be religious," Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told ABC News...
If only obscure conservative groups could prompt ABC News stories by complaining about things liberal politicians say that they don't like.
The story on the Tuesday, April 20 World News on ABC, transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
DIANE SAWYER: Tonight, a question about religion and America, occasioned by comments by Sarah Palin that are getting a lot of attention. And here is the question: Should America be defined as a Christian nation? Dan Harris on the response.- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow him on Twitter.
DAN HARRIS: This latest Palin-provoked controversy is the result of these comments on YouTube-
FORMER GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN (R-AK): God truly has shed his grace on thee, on this country.
HARRIS: -in which the former Alaskan Governor said it is, quote, "mindboggling to suggest that America is not a Christian nation."
PALIN: Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the states, our Founding Fathers, they were believers.
HARRIS: The idea that America was founded as an explicitly Christian country is an article of faith in some circles. The Fox News host Glenn Beck has dedicated entire shows to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN FROM FNC'S GLENN BECK SHOW CLIP #1: When they looked at all the writings the fathers used and relied on and quoted-
UNIDENTIFIED MAN CLIP #2: -the most quoted source was the Bible.
HARRIS: So is this argument correct? Mainstream historians say no, that if you look at the early documents, including personal letters, it's very clear that the founders did not want to make Christianity the official religion.
PROFESSOR EMERITUS MARTIN MARTY, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO DIVINITY SCHOOL: Most of the Founders were members of Christian churches, and their tradition was biblical and Christian, but they took great pains to avoid tilting the government toward religion.
HARRIS: The Founders left out any mention of God or Jesus in the Constitution, except when they noted the date in the Year of Our Lord, 1787. And then in the First Amendment, they specifically outlawed the establishment of any state religion. And, by the way, Thomas Jefferson, the man who wrote in the Declaration of Independence that "we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights," he was a deist, not a Christian, meaning he believed that God created the universe, but no longer intervenes in human affairs.
Interestingly, however, many people believe that by not making Christianity the official religion, the Founders created a dynamic and competitive atmosphere in which faith has thrived, making America one of the most religious developed countries on Earth. Dan Harris, ABC News, New York.