Was America founded a Christian nation or are its roots primarily from the age of enlightenment, free from the influence of Christianity? Enlightenment philosophy, being more closely related to secular humanism or even atheism than to Christianity. Some contend that although there were many Christians at that time of our countries founding, Christianity and Christian principals were intended to have no influence in our government and public life. They will point to Thomas Jefferson’s concept of “a wall of separation between church and state”, as proof that Christianity has no place in public life.
Some say that the constitutional convention of 1789 was primarily influenced by enlightenment and deist sentiment and had little to do with Christianity. They will point to influential leaders such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson who they claim were more inclined towards deism than Christianity.
To remove any doubt that Christianity had a role in our nations founding they will point to a statement made in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, in which we find the words, “…the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion….”.
Examining a few the approximately 17,000 documents written around the time period of our nations founding will give a balanced view of the beliefs of the leaders at this time.
John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court wrote, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers. And it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” This quote was from 1797, the year of the treaty of Tripoli. (Norris 2007) Was religion to have no place in government, absolutely not?
‘Fisher Ames, author of the First Amendment, wrote an article in 1801 entitled “School Books.” His concern was that by adding so many new textbooks in schools, there would not be enough time for the Bible. He said we must make sure the Bible regained its proper place of pre-eminence in the classroom!”(Bellavita 2008) Now why would the author of the first amendment advocate for the pre-eminence for the bible in schools? It is apparent that the establishment clause has a radically different meaning today.
George Washington in his Farewell address said this “It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” This does not sound like someone who wants to remove Christianity from public life or government does it? The father of our nation says it’s impossible to govern the world without God and the bible. If this isn’t proof of a Christian nation I don’t know what is!
“Senator Robert Byrd noted that of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 29 were Anglicans, 16-18 were Calvinists, and among the rest were 2 Methodists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 lapsed Quaker-sometimes Anglican, and only 1 open Deist – Benjamin Franklin who attended all Christian worships and called for public prayer.” (Pearlston 2001) These men knew there very lives we’re on the line, if they we’re deist’s and not Christians they would make it public.
William Holmes McGuffey is the author of the McGuffey Reader, which was used for over 100 years in our public schools with over 125 million copies sold until it was stopped in 1963. President Lincoln called him the “Schoolmaster of the Nation.” In reference to Christianity in America, Mr. McGuffey says:
“The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our notions on character of God, on the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions. From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology.” (Jones 2010) Now why would president Lincoln declare a man, “school master of the nation”, who believes Christianity is at the foundation of our institutions, if in fact he (Lincoln) believed in the equality of all religions and that religion has no place in our institutions which include our schools, courts and government? Unless we believe that the brilliant President Lincoln had a shallow or misguided understanding of our countries true foundation. I suppose George Washington, John Jay, John Adams and many others must have been as mistaken as Lincoln.
Calvin Coolidge, our 30Th President of the United States wrote, “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”
In 1947 Harry Truman said, “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and Saint Matthew, from Isaiah and Saint Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State.” (Pearlston 2001) Now if Christianity is the basis of our countries laws and government, how can there be a ‘wall of separation” as generally understood today? The answer is of course; there can’t, unless you undermine the foundation of our nation.
Although this country didn’t have a state religion, its laws and government were based on Christianity. The establishment clause was intended to protect religious liberty not remove its influences from our government and society. If we really believe Christianity has no place in government or society we should remove the pledge of allegiance from schools, remove in “God we trust” off our money, and all religious references off our government buildings. If we do this we would have a separation of church and state similar to its concept in the former Soviet Union, which completely removes religion from public life but allegedly allows freedom of private religious practice. Yes this country was most definitely founded a Christian nation, unique among the nations of the earth, destined to be that “city on the hill”, spreading the gospel of Christ to the nations.
“A Christian nation” by Steve Bellavita November 29,2008
http://www.heraldonl ine.com/2008/11/29/9 85934/a-christian-na tion.html
“Is America a Christian nation?” by Carl Pearlston 2001
http://www.catholice ducation.org/article s/politics/pg0040.ht ml
” Is America a Christian nation?” by Chuck Norris September 17, 2007
http://www.wnd.com/n ews/article.asp?ARTI CLE_ID=57666
“Forsaken roots” by Mary Jones retrieved March 11, 2010
http://www.wtv-zone. com/Mary/forsakenroo ts.html