Is America A Christian Nation?
Recently, I was engaged in a debate with a good and intelligent friend as to whether or not we are a “Christian Nation.” While I have always considered us a Christian nation, and assumed that most Christians did, I was hit with some new opinions and perspectives that were interesting and thought provoking. In this debate, key questions that must be addressed are: what do you consider the criteria for being a Christian nation; and are we talking about intentions or results?
You see, I’ve just always assumed that since nearly 90% of the population are self described Christians, that it was self evident. After all, our founding documents; aren’t they Christian based? Most of us refer to Egypt as a Muslim nation, because the vast majority of their population is Muslim, and their laws are based on Muslim philosophy. The same with Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, amongst others. However, as I looked further into it, I have found a troubling trend of which I was unaware. While the percentage of self proclaimed Christians was steady at about 87% up to and through the 1990′s, by 2008 that number had fallen to 76%. So now only 3 out of 4 Americans identify themselves as a Christian. This would partially explain the acceptance of no longer referring to ourselves as a Christian nation. But still, over 3/4 of our people identify themselves as Christian. Nonetheless, I think there is more to it than that.
Part of what I stressed in my Congressional run was the importance of getting back to knowing our Founding; our Founding Fathers and their intents, our founding documents, etc. I am ever more convinced of this necessity. One of the main arguments I’ve heard on the side of debate against us being a Christian nation, is that “Christ” or “Christian” is not found in The Declaration of Independence or The U.S. Constitution (which aside from our overwhelming majority of self proclaimed Christians, would be the other leg involved in referring to ourselves as a Christian nation). While this is in fact true, I still believed, in my own mind, that they intended us to be “a Christian nation.” That’s where the studying began.
So, I started reading some of the statements of some of our Revered Founders, in regard to their beliefs and our government. As I did, I not only found some incredible and decisive quotes (which you will find below, complete with their source…no need to “snopes”), but that their language, coupled with the language found in the Declaration of Independence, started to speak to me in ways unimaginable. For example,
“the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind…” and
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…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, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
Just in these two segments from the Declaration of Independence, I think it is undeniable what God they were speaking of. Even though they don’t say “Christian,” it is clear they were referring only to the Holy God of the the Holy Bible. Buddhism acknowledges no “god,” so it is clearly not Buddhist in nature. Hindu has many gods, and these say Nature’s God and Creator; not plural. Furthermore, a basic study of Islam reveals the belief that Sharia Law is the only social structure acceptable to a true follower of the Q’uran. These two statements, of free will and God given rights, are 100% contrary to the Muslim faith. There are no Greek or Indian gods this could possibly be referring to; and since it does acknowledge a Creator, atheism and agnosticism are out. So, you tell me; what God, other than the God of David, Abraham, and Moses could possibly be giving these rights, as our Creator?
I always welcome a good debate. A number of times I have had my eyes opened to facts I would not have otherwise known, and have realized I am wrong. On those occasions, I’ll humble myself and admit my mistake. There are also other occasions where my eyes are opened to reveal not only that my assumption was correct, but that my further studies give a deeper understanding to what I initially suspected, and strengthen my beliefs. There is also a third option, one where you realize something is amiss. That is where I find myself on this issue.
The more I study, the more I realize that, undoubtedly, we were founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and we were intended to be a Christian nation; with the understanding that a true Republic cannot be sustained without Christian principled leaders. Does this mean you have to be a Christian or even believe in God? No. Does it mean you have to proclaim a religion? No. Does it mean failure to acknowledge or pray to the God of Abraham, or any other god for that matter, disqualifies you from society, livelihood, or a place in our government? No. It is simply an acknowledgement that in order to properly self govern; selflessness, integrity, and many other Christ-centered principles must prevail.
Which brings us to where we are today. Unfortunately, I must say that looking at our current state of affairs (corruption in both major political parties; runaway spending while passing the bill to future generations; theft by the government from providers to give to the “less fortunate;” government funded abortions; capitulation to the ACLU in removing God from our society; etc.), we are not living as a Christian nation at all. While it is undeniable in my mind (and I think the facts speak for themselves) that we were intended to be a Christian nation, we have drifted away from that core. Much the same, we were founded as a Republic, because our Founders hated the idea of a Democracy. They knew that Democracies had failed throughout history, because when the mob rules, the mob takes. Democracies lead to socialism; Republics sustain freedom. We were intended to be a Christian Republic, and we have allowed ourselves to degrade into a secular democracy.
In the end, you are free to believe what you choose, since there is no disclaimer in our founding that says “Warning: America is a Christian nation.” However, do we argue that the sky is not blue, based on the fact that it is orange at sunrise and sunset? My hope is that I have opened your eyes, as I have opened my own, to the belief that we were intended to be a Christian nation, in order to sustain our Republic. When asked “what kind of government have you given us” after leaving the Constitutional convention, Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said “a Republic, if you can keep it.” We have not kept our Republic or our Christianity as a nation; whether or not we reclaim them is now up to us.
Here are the quotes you were promised…..
John Adams: SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; JUDGE; DIPLOMAT; ONE OF TWO SIGNERS OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS; SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God. ~ In a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813; found in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. XIII
Elias Boudinot: PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS; SIGNED THE PEACE TREATY TO END THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION; FIRST ATTORNEY ADMITTED TO THE U. S. SUPREME COURT BAR; FRAMER OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS; DIRECTOR OF THE U. S. MINT
Let us enter on this important business under the idea that we are Christians on whom the eyes of the world are now turned… Let us earnestly call and beseech Him, for Christ’s sake, to preside in our councils. . . . We can only depend on the all powerful influence of the Spirit of God, Whose Divine aid and assistance it becomes us as a Christian people most devoutly to implore. Therefore I move that some minister of the Gospel be requested to attend this Congress every morning . . . in order to open the meeting with prayer. ~ The Life, Public Services, Addresses, and Letters of Elias Boudinot, (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1896), Vol. I, pp. 19, 21, speech in the First Provincial Congress of New Jersey.
U.S. Congress, 1854:
The great, vital, and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and the divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Journal of the House of the Representatives of the United States of America, 34th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 354, January 23, 1856; see also: B. F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States(Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), p. 328.
Congress, 1854 (U.S. House Judiciary Committee):
Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle… In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity… That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants. ~ Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress (Washington: A.O P. Nicholson, 1854), pp. 6-9.
John Dickson: SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION; GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA; GOVERNOR OF DELAWARE; GENERAL IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
Governments could not give the rights essential to happiness… We claim them from a higher source: from the King of kings, and Lord of all the earth. ~ The Political Writings of John Dickinson, 1801, Vol. I, pp. 111-112.
Jedidiah Morse: HISTORIAN OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION; EDUCATOR; “FATHER OF AMERICAN GEOGRAPHY”; APPOINTED BY SECRETARY OF STATE TO DOCUMENT CONDITION OF INDIAN AFFAIRS
To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. All efforts made to destroy the foundations of our Holy Religion ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation… in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom… Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government – and all the blessings which flow from them – must fall with them. ~ A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers and Consequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America, Delivered at Charlestown, April 25, 1799, The Day of the National Fast(MA: Printed by Samuel Etheridge, 1799), p. 9.
James Otis: LEADER OF THE SONS OF LIBERTY; ATTORNEY & JURIST; MENTOR OF JOHN HANCOCK AND SAMUEL ADAMS
Has [government] any solid foundation? Any chief cornerstone?… I think it has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God… The sum of my argument is that civil government is of God. The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved(London: J. Williams and J. Almon, 1766), pp. 11, 98.
Benjamin Rush: SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; SURGEON GENERAL OF THE CONTINENTAL ARMY; RATIFIER OF THE U. S. CONSTITUTION; “FATHER OF AMERICAN MEDICINE”; TREASURER OF THE U. S. MINT; “FATHER OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION”
I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament. ~ Letters of Benjamin Rush, (Princeton, New Jersey: American Philosophical Society, 1951), Vol. I, p. 475, to Elias Boudinot on July 9, 1788.
The greatest discoveries in science have been made by Christian philosophers and . . . there is the most knowledge in those countries where there is the most Christianity. ~ Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas and William Bradford, 1806), p. 84.
The only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible. ~ Essays, Literary, Moral & Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas & Samuel F. Bradford, 1798), p. 112, “A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book.”
Roger Sherman: SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION; SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION; “MASTER BUILDER OF THE CONSTITUTION”; JUDGE; FRAMER OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS; U. S. SENATOR
“The volume which he consulted more than any other was the Bible. It was his custom, at the commencement of every session of Congress, to purchase a copy of the Scriptures, to peruse it daily, and to present it to one of his children on his return.” ~ The Globe (Washington DC newspaper), August 15, 1837, p. 1.
Joseph Story: U. S. CONGRESSMAN; “FATHER OF AMERICAN JURISPRUDENCE”; U. S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE APPOINTED BY PRESIDENT JAMES MADISON
One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations. ~ Life and Letters of Joseph Story, (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. II, p. 8.
I verily believe that Christianity is necessary to support a civil society and shall ever attend to its institutions and acknowledge its precepts as the pure and natural sources of private and social happiness. ~ Life and Letters of Joseph Story, (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. I, p. 92, March 24, 1801.
Daniel Webster: U. S. SENATOR; SECRETARY OF STATE; “DEFENDER OF THE CONSTITUTION”
The Christian religion – its general principles – must ever be regarded among us as the foundation of civil society. ~ Mr. Webster’s Speech in Defence of the Christian Ministry and in Favor of the Religious Instruction of the Young. Delivered in the Supreme Court of the United States, February 10, 1844, in the Case of Stephen Girard’s Will.
Noah Webster: REVOLUTIONARY SOLDIER; JUDGE; LEGISLATOR; EDUCATOR; “SCHOOLMASTER TO AMERICA”
The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles… This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitutions of government. ~ History of the United States(New Haven: Durrie and Peck, 1832), p. 300.
Our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion. ~ History of the United States(New Haven: Durrie and Peck, 1832), p. 6
The Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children under a free government ought to be instructed. No truth is more evident than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people. ~ A Collection of Papers on Political, Literary, and Moral Subjects(New York: Webster and Clark, 1843), p. 291, from his “Reply to a Letter of David McClure on the Subject of the Proper Course of Study in the Girard College, Philadelphia. New Haven, October 25, 1836.”
The Christian religion… is the basis, or rather the source, of all genuine freedom in government… I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of Christianity have not a controlling influence. ~ Defining Noah Webster: Mind and Morals in the Early Republic (New York: University Press of America, 1990), p. 253, to James Madison on October 16, 1829.