Is America A "Christian Nation?"

elder999

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Is America A "Christian Nation?"

Was it founded on "Christian Faith?"

These questions came up for me (again!) on another thread, and I thought Id share some of my answers.

At the time of the Revolution, the population of what would become this country were either immigrants from, or the children of immigrants from places where the state controlled the church, and, in some ways, vice versa. In England, there had been the Church of England-which persecuted other sects-the Puritans come to mind, because the Puritans wound up doing the same thing to others in New England. In France thered been the Catholic Church, which persecuted Protestant Hugenots who would emigrate to the U.S.....and so on.

At the time of the Revolution, as near as we can tell, less than 20% of the population of the 13 colonies actually belonged to a church. Part of this might have been due to remoteness. In some places, where people had settled to avoid or escape religious persecution (which became something of an American tradition, but I digress) there might be one church for the town, and all would attend. In others, there might not be any, and in still other places, like New York City, there might be quite a few.

In any case, as has been said time and again, the Founding Fathers might not be recognized by many of the Christians of today as "Christians" themselves-they were, in spite of membership in various churches, often for purely social reasons, mostly deists: they believed that the universe has a Creator, and that he really doesnt care about us at all. They all had mixed and complicated feelings on religion, and churches.

Thomas Jefferson, a Unitarian Universalist, in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, wrote All men are created equal and independent. From that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable." Congress changed that phrase, increasing its religious overtones: "All men are created equal. They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights."

Among his many accomplishments, Jefferson compiled an abridged New Testament, one consisting solely of the words of Jesus. He denied the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, though. Some Jefferson quotes:

"It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three, and the three are not one. But this constitutes the craft, the power and the profit of the priests."
- to John Adams, 1803


"It is not to be understood that I am with him (Jesus Christ) in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism, he preaches the efficacy of repentance toward forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it." - to Carey, 1816
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"The priests of the superstition, a bloodthirsty race, are as cruel and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. That Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in that lore."
- to Story, Aug. 4, 1820

"I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth."
-letter to William Short

James Madison, author of the Constitution and Baptist (interestingly, it was the Baptists who were instrumental in securing the "separation of church and state"), had these things to say:

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.
-1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches

It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others.-On Religious Liberty

John Adams, our second President, hero of the Revolution, and sometime Episcopalian, denied the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and had these things to say:

The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity

"Have you considered that system of holy lies and pious frauds that has raged and triumphed for 1,500 years?"

"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it."

You can look for yourself, almost all the Founders, Ben Franklin to Aaron Burr to George Washington (who was well known for attending the Episcopal church with his wife in New York, but pointedly getting up from his seat and leaving at the consecration of the Eucharist) go on in a like vein about organized religion, Christianity, and the nature of God. The Founding Fathers, and our country, were products of the European Enlightenment, and free thought-not Christianity, or any other religion.
 

Nolerama

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Maybe the Founding Fathers thought of Christianity as another tool to control the populace; kind of like organized sports and Velveeta.

I kid... But I might be kidding correctly if this conspiracy theory is true...

Actually IMO, America is a "Christian" nation; especially in the eyes of the world.
 

Archangel M

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I would say our nation has "Christian roots", from the Puritan pilgrims onward. And a gallup poll from 2004 stated that 8 in 10 Americans identify with some from of Christianity.

Is Iran an "Islamic Nation"? If the majority of the population is Islamic I would say so.

I think a better question would be "Is America run by a Christian government?"
 

Ramirez

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interesting post Aaron, although I would argue that Western society mores is based on the Catholic Church (well really Roman mores) hence the US is part and parcel of that, and therefore the US is mix of the Jewish mores mixed with Roman mores.

I am not up on US history, but would US founders be influenced by the growing secularism in France around the Revolution?
 
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elder999

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Maybe the Founding Fathers thought of Christianity as another tool to control the populace; kind of like organized sports and Velveeta.

I kid... But I might be kidding correctly if this conspiracy theory is true...

Actually IMO, America is a "Christian" nation; especially in the eyes of the world.


Interestingly, most of the founders also saw the value of organized religion-as part of a social fabric, as supporting learning, and yes, as a means of.....communicating morals to a populace that might not be as educated as they were.
 

Nolerama

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Interestingly, most of the founders also saw the value of organized religion-as part of a social fabric, as supporting learning, and yes, as a means of.....communicating morals to a populace that might not be as educated as they were.

You're most likely right.

I'm operating under the assumption that founding fathers were also influenced by the same aliens that built the pyramids.
 

thardey

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Ethically, America identifies with Christianity, but I don't think the Bible has ever been a foundation for American culture.

That is, our culture and ethics are still based primarily on secular thinking. Where that thinking lines up with what the Bible defines as "ethical" is covenient for Christians, but appealing to the Bible as an authority for influencing culture or law has never really been successful.

If you can include the Bible alongside secular reasoning, then that is a bonus for a large part of the population, but that's completely different.

But our culture isn't designed around the Bible, and it doesn't give it any real authority for influencing ethics and thought, so I would say that America never really was, and certainly isn't now, a "Christian Nation."

It's a secular nation that has a lot of Christians in it.
 

Archangel M

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But our culture isn't designed around the Bible, and it doesn't give it any real authority for influencing ethics and thought, so I would say that America never really was, and certainly isn't now, a "Christian Nation."

It's a secular nation that has a lot of Christians in it.

True. But how far do you think a "nation with a lot of Christians" will allow the government to sway away from Christian beliefs?
 

Archangel M

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I dont think its that easy. If a political candidate is on a platform that a popular religion supports he will get elected. If a candidate sways too far from the popular religions beliefs he will be out. The government was designed to keep the gvt out of religion or passing any laws regarding it but its undeniable that religion can influence it.

The government CAN pass laws regarding sex, reproduction, alcohol, and basic human interaction. Religious belief is almost the only thing it cant get involved in, but religions influence is tied into all those issues. Its a very complicated interaction in a fairly new government as far as nations go. Im not really passing judgment on the "right or wrongs" of it.
 

Joab

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Is America a Christian nation? Well, no. It has a lot of Christians in it and has a strong cultural infleunce from Christianity, and certainly a lot of the laws come out of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, but it was founded as a secular country under God by Deists primarily. With the popularity of pornography, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, materialism, hedonism, and the like I would say if it really was a Christian nation its not a very good Christian nation. Strong infleunce, yes, but a Christian nation no-unfortunately, I wish it was. A good Christian nation that is, a more moral nation, yes, but not a sectarian nation, there will always be different interpretations of the Bible.
 

terryl965

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I would have to say Yes, it is in the eye's of the world. We all know perspection is all that matters.
 
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elder999

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I would have to say Yes, it is in the eye's of the world. We all know perspection is all that matters.


It would appear that we are to the eyes of much of the country as well. I know that to not be a Christian in this country pretty much gives the impression that it is a "Christian nation," but I'm really not sure, except perhaps demographically, what that signifies, and if it actually means anything at all.

I mean, demographically, China is the largest "Christian nation" of all....:lfao: Is a nation of Christians, in fact, a "Christian nation?"

More to the point, what about the perception of "Christian" today-both within the country and in the greater world, "Christians" are defined, more and more, by what they stand against, rather than what they stand for-is that what anyone wants?

I mentioned the Baptists pushing for separation of church and state-they did that because they believed that God's authority came from people-that the people give God authority. Not to priests, and that God's authority doesn't come from priests, or the government-and they had been persecuted for that belief.

My second question still stands, though-are we founded upon "Christian faith" and/or "Christian principles?" If so, which ones?
 

terryl965

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I would say Christian principles, I do not believe that this country was a faith base driven way for all that came here.
 

Archangel M

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http://www.forerunner.com/mandate/X0007_Americas_Christian_H.html

1620 The Mayflower Compact, written by the Pilgrims before they set foot on this land, stated, In the presence of God, Amen. We do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves into a civil body politic.


1638 The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (often called the first American Constitution) said, [We] enter into a combination and confederation together to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ which we now profess. It also stated for the first time that mens rights come from God, as later stated in the Declaration of Independence.


1776 The Declaration of Independence says, We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men


1777 The First Continental Congress called the Bible the great political textbook of the patriots and appropriated funds to import 20,000 Holy Bibles for the people.



...



Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, said, It is the duty of all nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
 

Gordon Nore

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...I know that to not be a Christian in this country pretty much gives the impression that it is a "Christian nation,"...

It's certainly reflected in the Presidency

  • It was a big deal that John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic President
  • It was a big deal that Ronald Reagan was the first divorced President
  • It was a big deal that Al Gore's running mate, Joe Lieberman, was Jewish
  • It was a big deal that Mitt Romney was a Mormon
  • It was a big deal that Barack Obama's heritage was partly Muslim
Americans have become more interested in the specifics of their Presidents' religious beliefs and practices in my lifetime. That, I suspect, has been part of the rising tide of fundamentalism, and has less to do with the President's party affiliation. By way of an informal observation, it seemed to me that there was a media scrum every time President Clinton emerged from Church with his bible in one hand and Hilary Clinton in the other.

I think it's become virtually impossible to function in politics in the USA without consciously communicating your religious values to constituents.
 
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elder999

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I'd point out that I've already posted how the Declaration was edited to say "endowed by their Creator," and it's not a governing document, though it is the founding one. Unlike the Mayflower compact....

Abraham Lincoln killed a proposed "Christian Amendment" to the Constitution, declaring the nation's fealty to Jesus. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a President who made many religious pronouncements while sitting as President, prior to Carter, anyway......
 

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That wasn't what the revolutionaries who started it or the monied elites who engineered the coup we call "The Constitutional Convention" wanted. They knew that an Established Church was nothing but trouble. Besides, many of them were *shudder* Free Thinkers. This was in stark contrast to the murderous ****-sticks who founded places like the Massachusetts colony and the colonies that referred to "The Cess-Pit of Rhode Island" because R.I. didn't have an Established Church.

The treaty that ended the war with the Barbary Pirates stated that the United States was in no way a Christian nation. In spite of the fact that a large segment of the population could always be relied on to do just about anything if the tribal shamans waved Jesus and the cross it never officially became one. The only religious observances to be banned by law were the LDS's polygyny and the the Sun Dance.

Part of the reason used to be the Baptists. Up until the Age of Reagan and Falwell they were adamantly in favor of the separation of Church and State. Then they got a taste of political power and real influence and did a 180. They started calling for the abolition of Separation at about the time they started loudly trumpeting the knew initiative to make sure Jews knew about Jesus. Power corrupts.

When Utah was independent it was certainly a Christian theocracy. But that question was settled pretty convincingly. Looking at some of the laws in that State you'd think it still was, but that's another discussion.
 

searcher

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This is just my take on things, we started off as a Christian nation and most of our laws and freedoms are based on Christian principles(read the Declaration and the Constitution), but we have slipped very far away form staying a Christian nation. I think that as the atheist movement grew along with globalization, we have slipped away from God. We have been blessed over the years because we were a Christian nation, but IMO, we are about to have God remove his blessings from us. This will happen unless we get back to the Christian roots that made this country great.
 

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