Founding Fathers: We Are Not a Christian Nation

Lakhota

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"The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."
--John Adams


As we witness yet again the brutal and bloody consequences of religious intolerance in the form of ISIS, we have a majority of Republicans pining for a Christian America. Proponents of converting the United States into a theocracy do not see the terrible parallel between religious excess in the Middle East and here at home, but they would not because blindness to reason is the inevitable consequence of religious zealotry.

Conservatives who so proudly tout their fealty to the Constitution want to trash our founding document by violating the First Amendment in hopes of establishing Christianity as the nation's religion. This is precisely what the Constitution prohibits:

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.​

Back to the Beginning

How terribly ironic that the louder Christians protest against the excesses of Islam, the more they agitate for Christian excess. We really need to stop this ridiculous argument about being a Christian nation. If there should be any doubt, let us listen to the founding fathers themselves. This from Thomas Jefferson in an April 11, 1823, letter to John Adams:

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. ... But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding....​

These are not the words of a man who wishes to establish a Christian theocracy. Jefferson promoted tolerance above all and said earlier that his statute for religious freedom in Virginia was "meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammeden, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination." He specifically wished to avoid the dominance of a single religion.

Let us be perfectly clear: We are not now, nor have we ever been, a Christian nation. Our founding fathers explicitly and clearly excluded any reference to "God" or "the Almighty" or any euphemism for a higher power in the Constitution. Not one time is the word "god" mentioned in our founding document. Not one time.

The facts of our history are easy enough to verify. Anybody who ignorantly insists that our nation is founded on Christian ideals need only look at the four most important documents from our early history -- the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers and the Constitution -- to disprove that ridiculous religious bias. All four documents unambiguously prove our secular origins.

Declaration of Independence (1776)

The most important assertion in this document is that "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Note that the power of government is derived not from any god but from the people. No appeal is made in this document to a god for authority of any kind. In no case are any powers given to religion in the affairs of man.

Remember, too, that this document was not written to form or found a government but was stating intent in a way that was meant to appeal to an audience with European sensibilities. Only four times is there any reference at all to higher powers -- "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," "Supreme Judge of the world," "their Creator," and "divine Providence" -- and in all four cases the references to a higher power appeal to the idea of inherent human dignity, never implying a role for a god in government.

Articles of Confederation (1777)

Throughout the entire document, in all 13 articles, the only reference to anything remotely relating to a god is a term used one time, "Great Governor of the World," and even then only in the context of general introduction, like "Ladies and gentlemen, members of the court...." Unlike the Declaration of Independence, this document did indeed seek to create a type of government in the form of a confederation of independent states. The authors gave no power or authority to religion. And this document is our first glimpse into the separation of church and state, because just as the Articles of Confederation give no authority to religion in civil matters, so too does the document deny any authority of government in matters of faith.

U.S. Constitution (1787)

This one is easy, because the Constitution of the United States of America makes zero reference to a god or Christianity.

The only reference to religion, found in Article VI, is a negative one: "[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." And of course we have the First Amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Federalist Papers (1787-88)

While Thomas Jefferson was the genius behind the Declaration of Independence, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison (publishing under the pseudonym "Publius") were the brains providing the intellectual foundation of our Constitution. And what brilliance they brought to the task. The first time I picked up the Federalist Papers, I intended to scan the book briefly and then move on to more interesting pursuits. But I could not put it down; the book reads like an intriguing mystery novel with an intricate plot and complex characters acting on every human emotion. There is no better way to get into the minds of our founding fathers and understand their original intent than by reading this collection of amazing essays.

As with the Constitution, at no time is a god ever mentioned in the Federalist Papers. At no time is Christianity every mentioned. Religion is only discussed in the context of keeping matters of faith separate from concerns of governance, and of keeping religion free from government interference.

The founding fathers could not be clearer on this point: God has no role in government; Christianity has no role in government. They make this point explicitly, repeatedly, in multiple founding documents. We are not a Christian nation.

"In God We Trust"

Our national obsession with God in politics is actually a recent phenomenon and would seem completely alien to any of our founders. "In God We Trust" was first placed on United States coins in 1861, during the Civil War. (More about that in a bit.) Teddy Roosevelt tried to remove the words from our money in 1907 but was shouted down. Only in 1956 was that expression adopted as the national motto by the 84th Congress. The clause "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was inserted only in 1954, when President Eisenhower signed legislation to recognize "the dedication of our Nation and our people to the Almighty." But conservatives, ignorant of our history, or willfully ignoring it, wish us to believe that the pledge always referenced God. Here is Sarah Palin's take, defending the "under God" clause: "If the pledge was good enough for the founding fathers, its [sic] good enough for me and I'll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance." One wonders if she thinks the founders were alive in 1954. I guess if Noah could live to be nearly 800 years old....

Our founding fathers understood well the extraordinary danger of mixing religion and politics; we forget that lesson at our great peril. If we forget, just glance over to the Middle East. I tremble in fear for my country when the majority of conservatives believe we are a Christian nation; that frightening majority has forgotten our history, ignored our founding principles and abandoned our most cherished ideal of separating church and state. In mixing religion and politics, the religious right subverts both. And the world suffers.

More: Founding Fathers: We Are Not a Christian Nation - Jeff Schweitzer

Unchecked religion of any kind is a recipe for disaster. History has proven that fact. Secular sanity must prevail.
 
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PaintMyHouse

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That's nice and all, but 57% of the GOP wants a Christian Nation, which is why I say that anyone who isn't a liberal is un-American.
 

80zephyr

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Words on paper do not define a nation. Saying that America was not founded as a Christian nation is like saying America was a land where "all men were created equal", while they owned slaves.

Mark
 

bear513

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Yea look at our national holidays like Christmas and good Friday,do we have a national Muslim day?
 

1stRambo

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Yo, read and weep!
Early colonial laws and constitutions such as the Mayflower Compact, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, and Massachusetts Body of Libertiesare filled with such language—and in some cases, they incorporate biblical texts wholesale. Perhaps more surprisingly, tolerant, Quaker Pennsylvania was more similar to Puritan New England than many realize. The Charter of Liberties and Frame of Government of the Province of Pennsylvania (1681) begins by making it clear that God has ordained government, and it even quotes Romans 13 to this effect. Article 38 of the document lists “offenses against God” that may be punished by the magistrate, including:

swearing, cursing, lying, profane talking, drunkenness, drinking of healths, obscene words, incest, sodomy…stage-plays, cards, dice, May-games, gamesters, masques, revels, bull-baiting, cock-fighting, bear-baiting, and the like, which excite the people to rudeness, cruelty, looseness, and irreligion.

An extensive survey of early colonial constitutions and laws reveals many similar provisions. As well, at least nine of the 13 colonies had established churches, and all required officeholders to be Christians—or, in some cases, Protestants. Quaker Pennsylvania, for instance, expected officeholders to be “such as possess faith in Jesus Christ.”

"GTP"

This is the "Hate GOD" group in America trying to push out religion!!! They will try anything!!! Ban this and Ban that!!!

bible.jpg
 

Vigilante

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No one can deny that many of the founding fathers of the United States of America were men of deep religious convictions based in the Bible and their Christian faith in Jesus Christ. Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, nearly half (24) held seminary or Bible school degrees.
 

WinterBorn

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The founding fathers went to some lengths to make sure that we are a secular nation. Pressures may have added holidays and the like, but the fundamental document, our constitution, forbids any gov't religion. That way all faiths (or none) are welcome.
 

Avorysuds

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The constitution is not "Christian." But we are a "Christian" country by %... Just as we are a white country by %. Obama is a "Christian" who attended a well known outspoken racist church for 20+ years... So saying someone is Christian means absolutely nothing. So why is this a topic? Because the OP wants to avoid the dynasty that his singular candidate going into 2016 creates.
 

Avorysuds

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The founding fathers went to some lengths to make sure that we are a secular nation. Pressures may have added holidays and the like, but the fundamental document, our constitution, forbids any gov't religion. That way all faiths (or none) are welcome.

Correct, if the FF wanted to be a Christian nation it would be, no debate about it. But it's not as per our constitution.
 

JakeStarkey

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No one can deny that many of the founding fathers of the United States of America were men of deep religious convictions based in the Bible and their Christian faith in Jesus Christ. Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, nearly half (24) held seminary or Bible school degrees.
Because, in part, most of the colleges were sectarian. Of course the delegates overwhelmingly identified Christian. Almost all of the Convention delegates were baptized, and I can identify only four that were not at least nominal Christians.

There were cross overs. Now Jefferson, a weak Deist, did attended the Episcopal Church, because to be a commissioner he also had to be a vestryman for the church.

So, yeah, the USA was founded as a nation by Christians and a few Deists. What is interesting is that the Founders excluded Test Oaths from the Constitution (Art VI) and the 1st and 2d Congress and the states prohibited government from establishing a national religion.
 
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WinterBorn

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The fact that the founding fathers were mostly christian shows the level of their dedication to creating a secular nation.
 

BULLDOG

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Yo, read and weep!
Early colonial laws and constitutions such as the Mayflower Compact, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, and Massachusetts Body of Libertiesare filled with such language—and in some cases, they incorporate biblical texts wholesale. Perhaps more surprisingly, tolerant, Quaker Pennsylvania was more similar to Puritan New England than many realize. The Charter of Liberties and Frame of Government of the Province of Pennsylvania (1681) begins by making it clear that God has ordained government, and it even quotes Romans 13 to this effect. Article 38 of the document lists “offenses against God” that may be punished by the magistrate, including:

swearing, cursing, lying, profane talking, drunkenness, drinking of healths, obscene words, incest, sodomy…stage-plays, cards, dice, May-games, gamesters, masques, revels, bull-baiting, cock-fighting, bear-baiting, and the like, which excite the people to rudeness, cruelty, looseness, and irreligion.

An extensive survey of early colonial constitutions and laws reveals many similar provisions. As well, at least nine of the 13 colonies had established churches, and all required officeholders to be Christians—or, in some cases, Protestants. Quaker Pennsylvania, for instance, expected officeholders to be “such as possess faith in Jesus Christ.”

"GTP"

This is the "Hate GOD" group in America trying to push out religion!!! They will try anything!!! Ban this and Ban that!!!

View attachment 37254

Fortunately, the constitution did away with all those things.
 

BULLDOG

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The constitution is not "Christian." But we are a "Christian" country by %... Just as we are a white country by %. Obama is a "Christian" who attended a well known outspoken racist church for 20+ years... So saying someone is Christian means absolutely nothing. So why is this a topic? Because the OP wants to avoid the dynasty that his singular candidate going into 2016 creates.

Don't think of it as a dynasty. Think of it as the majority sticking with the Democratic party because it's the right thing to do.
 

The Rabbi

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The fact that the founding fathers were mostly christian shows the level of their dedication to creating a secular nation.
Bullshit.
The Constitution barred the FEDERAL government from establishing religion. But state governments were free to do so. And they did.
Religion is interwoven into our system because the people who founded it and governed it were religious people. They damnsure werent Muslims either.
 

NYcarbineer

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Yea look at our national holidays like Christmas and good Friday,do we have a national Muslim day?
Good Friday is not a national holiday.

Labor Day is, however. A national holiday for labor. I guess that makes the United States officially a pro-labor nation.
 

NYcarbineer

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No one can deny that many of the founding fathers of the United States of America were men of deep religious convictions based in the Bible and their Christian faith in Jesus Christ. Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, nearly half (24) held seminary or Bible school degrees.
So what? They weren't what you claim, at least if Ben Franklin was any indication.

Plus, they only started this country. They aren't still running it. They're dead.
 

NYcarbineer

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The fact that the founding fathers were mostly christian shows the level of their dedication to creating a secular nation.
Bullshit.
The Constitution barred the FEDERAL government from establishing religion. But state governments were free to do so. And they did.
Religion is interwoven into our system because the people who founded it and governed it were religious people. They damnsure werent Muslims either.
Which states have an official religion?
 

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