Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why the U.S. is not a Christian Nation (redux)

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Sorry for the silence today. Here’s a nice little silence breaker, in the form of an educational and supremely well-sourced video by The Thinking Atheist that should be shown to everyone (particularly politicians) who still thinks the United States is a “Christian nation”:

Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

The United States of America is a Christian nation?

If you believe the rhetoric of many Republican political candidates, you’d certainly believe so. Former presidential candidate John McCain once said, “I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.” His choice for vice-president in 2008, Sarah Palin, has called the United States a “Christian nation” and suggested that it’s “mind-boggling” to think otherwise. At George W. Bush’s inauguration, his very first act was to have the son of Christian evangelist Billy Graham officially dedicate the presidential inauguration to Jesus Christ, invoking “the Father”, “the Son”, “the Lord Jesus Christ” and “the Holy Spirit”.

Many U.S. presidents have sworn their oath on the Christian Bible. “God Bless America” has become a familiar slogan: in good times, bad, reflected on banners, T-shirts, church marquees and songs like Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the USA”. The Internet is populated with websites like, which promotes the Christian Bible and declares that “Without God, there is no America”. You can sign online petitions like this one [], which declares that “God ordains our leaders for his own glory and the public good”.

Certainly, the United States protects the freedom of its citizens to call down blessings from their deities, Christian or otherwise. Free citizens have the right to pray, worship and practice their religions however they wish, within the boundaries of the law. But did our Founding Fathers create a Christian nation?

Well, if they did, it’s odd that ‘God’ is not mentioned once in the U.S Constitution. The mention of religion in Article 6 of the First Amendment served to separate religion from government altogether. The Founding Fathers actually guaranteed the right of the non-religious to hold public office. And the language doesn’t even use the word ‘Christian’; it says ‘religious’, covering all faiths.

‘God’, ‘Creator’ and ‘Providence’ are mentioned in the Declaration of Independence; however, after Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, the Declaration of Independence was not the document the founders used to govern. Instead, they reconvened and drew up a different document to define U.S. laws: first, the Articles of Confederation, then the Constitution.

The Founding Fathers didn’t put “In God We Trust” on U.S. coins; that was done during the time of the Civil War. They didn’t put “In God We Trust” on U.S. paper currency; that was done in 1957. The words ‘under God’ weren’t part of the original Pledge of Allegiance; those words were added by Congress in 1954 as the West was making a statement against the “godlessness” of Communism by also instituting a national Day of Prayer and replacing “E Pluribus Unum” with “In God We Trust” as our national motto.

Contrary to the assertions of the religious, many of our Founding Fathers were either Deist or ambivalent about the Christian God, including Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Paine, and even George Washington. Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, rejected concepts like the Trinity, the virgin birth, the divinity of Christ, the Resurrection, Original Sin, and other core Christian beliefs.

Further separating our founders from a Christian nation is Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, sighed by John Adams in 1797, which stated clearly that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”.

So, if our Founding Fathers weren’t necessarily Christian, they excluded God from our Constitution, had nothing to do with any mentions of ‘God’ in our Pledge of Allegiance, they omitted ‘God’ from our money, they removed any religious requirements to hold public office, and declared publicly that the United States is not founded on Christianity, are the politicians and pundits on the religious-Right being completely honest with themselves and with the public about their attitudes and intentions? Are they attempting to integrate their own religious agendas into a government designed to operate religion-free? Are they using God in an emotional appeal to win support and votes from a largely ignorant electorate? Has Christianity, or any other religion, contaminated the secular framework for government established over 200 years ago?

The next time a politician says that the United States is a Christian nation, it might be time to give them, and the millions of Americans watching, a history lesson.

I’m sure we’ll have no more of that particular falsehood, now, will we?


(via @rdfrs)