Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This is a Christian Nation!

In my set of posts from a year and a half ago, I made a post with the same title as this one.  Although I still had classes today, I feel that I am still going to put in the time and effort for the long post that I promised for today.  I have a few topics that really push my buttons.  Three of these topics include people denying evolutionary biology, people trying to bring about the "End Times", rapture, etc., and those who attempt to turn the United States into a "Christian Nation" and/or practice Dominionism.  I feel that this is an extremely important issue to address because of the amount of theists who believe that the United States is or ought to be a Christian Nation.  In order to better illustrate some of the bigoted, xenophobic, misinformed statements I hear, I will provide a crude list below:
  • If you don't believe in God, then get out of the country!
  • You're not a real American unless you believe in God.
  • The pledge of allegiance says, "One nation, UNDER GOD!!!" so we are a Christian nation.
  • On United States currency the motto, "IN GOD WE TRUST!!!" is right there so we are a Christian nation!
  • We are a Christian nation because we were founded on Christian values.
  • The words "separation of church and state" don't appear anywhere in the United States' constitution, therefore there shouldn't be a separation!
  • Our forefathers were Christians, therefore we are a Christian nation.
  • The United States is a superpower because we are God-fearing Christians.
If you find yourself nodding your head to any of the previous statements, you have been deeply misguided on how the United States was formed and ignorant of United States history.

If when you assert that the United States is a "Christian nation" you mean that the majority of citizens in the United States are some denomination of Christianity, you are correct.  However, I have a slight problem with the phrasing and would prefer people to just say that a majority of the citizens are Christians.  There is a weird connotation when someone says "Christian nation".

Let's being with the colonization of the American colonies.  I often hear about how the Puritans were the first the colonize the land and this means that we are a Christian nation.  This is an utterly obvious non sequitur.  First of all, Native Americans were the first to inhabit the Americas and I don't know anybody who would say that the United States is a  nation.  To use an analogy, Australia was first used as a penal colony for Great Britain.  A penal colony is allotted land that another states uses to exile criminals to.  Who would say that Australia was founded on the values of criminals and is a "Criminal nation"?  Mind you, these Puritans are the same progressive thinkers that thought owning another human being was morally acceptable.

Another myth I hear is that our Founding Fathers were Christian and this makes the United States a Christian nation.  When I say "Founding Fathers" I am referring to the Delegates of the Philadelphia Convention because they were the men who laid out the framework of the United States embodied in the Constitution.  Certainly many of our Founding Fathers were Christian, but many were also deists.  Still, regardless of what our Founding Fathers personal religious beliefs were, they penned and signed one of the best, longest lasting, most secular constitutions in the world.  No mention of Christianity is present in the United States constitution save the "in the year of our Lord" which was just the popular dating scheme of their time.  In fact, whenever theocratic ideas were introduced they were voted down every time.  To truly see the Founding Fathers' views on the involvement of religion in matters of the state, one needs to look no further than the first statement of the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights: 
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (First Amendment, United States Constitution)

I repeat, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...".  Far too many people say that the separation of church and state doesn't really exist because that phrasing never is said in the Constitution.  This idea may not be explicitly stated, however it is obviously implied.  Our idiom of "separation of church and state" is emulated in Thomas Jefferson's personal letters and statements.  In fact, Thomas Jefferson's metaphor of the wall between church and state has been used in several Supreme Court cases.

Perhaps the greatest piece of evidence of the United States not being a Christian nation is the Treaty of Tripoli (1797).  This treaty was ratified unanimously by the Senate.  Article 11 says: 
"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." (Article 11, Treaty of Tripoli, 1797)
So, for all of people out there who think that the United States is a Christian nation;  how do you rationalize this official statement from the United States government?

As for our national motto becoming "In God We Trust" and inserting "...under God..." in the Pledge of Allegiance, these are the direct result of McCarthyism.  In the 1950s, in order to fight "God-less communism", the United States government unconstitutionally started to inject God into the government.  Neither of these violations were the act of the Founding Fathers and this is an issue in which I hope gets ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  Some people attribute the United States' rise as a superpower to Christianity.  However, there are plenty of more rational reasons (i.e. capitalism, wars not being fought on our soil, advanced technology, etc.)

This is just a short explanation of why the United States is not a Christian nation.  If you wish you add or dispute anything pertaining to this topic of any other please leave a comment below or e-mail me at  I have a ton of reading and a problem set due tomorrow, so there will probably be a short post tomorrow.  Have a great day!

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