An historical overview of what it has meant to be a Christian American. Ernst (Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley) shows that it has meant many things: Puritanism dominated the colonial period, evangelical Protestants and immigrant Catholics held sway in the 19th century, and now Christianity seems increasingly to be but one option among many. Two main orientations have emerged: there have been those--like the Quakers, Shakers, Mennonites--for whom Christian faith is a minority ideal to be cultivated with private assiduity; and there have been mainline Protestants and Catholics who tend to stress the basic unity of Christianity and want to see the US a Christian nation. But the hope for a new Christendom has withered, as the pluralism and dissent that characterized religion in America from the start have bloomed--one's neighbor could now as easily be a Jehovah's Witness, Moon child, or Hare Krishna Santa as a Methodist or Episcopalian. The upshot is that Christianity--whether privately or publicly oriented--may again become the lived conviction of a religious subculture, a remnant faith. Pretty much commonsense observations, but a neat wrap-up of a complex subject nonetheless.