I hate to break it to people but we are not a Christian nation. No matter how much people may want to believe we are founded on Christian principals or that our Founding Fathers were Christian, the fact is that is not entirely true.
First of all, as for the laws that make up our country, they could be said to be based on Christian principals… in as much as Christian beliefs influenced the entirety of Western Civilization. Certainly we find much of what America was founded on in the Holy Roman Empire… but “Holy” is only one aspect of that. Much more of what our laws come from is based on the other part, i.e. the “Roman Empire”. Therefore, our laws go back much further than the rise of Christianity to the practices of Ancient Rome and (before that) Greece. Thus, our government and its legislation are not based on Christian values per se, but on the practices of Western Civilization (of which Christianity is one aspect that influenced it later on).
Second, certainly many Founding Fathers practiced the Christian Faith, but they were Deists first and Christians second. The Founding Fathers lived during the Age of Enlightenment, a period that espoused science and reason over blind faith. Many of them railed against Christianity and the Church, believing God to be beyond the mundane world. The Founding Fathers opposed the trappings of religion and claims of supernatural activity, declaring such things to be no more than dogma promoted by Man.
Third, the Constitution was written with this philosophy in mind. The First Amendment clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. The Federal Government would not create legislation that caters to any specific religion and in return no one shall be prohibited from practicing their own faith. This division between Government and Religion was reiterated in Thomas Jefferson’s famous letter, in which he wrote:
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their “legislature” should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”
Finally, in case people need to be clear on what the Founding Fathers said on religion and Christianity (in addition to Jefferson’s statement above), here are their direct words:
- “I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.” (Thomas Jefferson)
- “I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved–the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!” (John Adams)
- “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.” (James Madison)
- “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.” (Benjamin Franklin)
- “The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.” (Thomas Paine)
There is nothing wrong with being Christian. There is nothing wrong with accepting the contributions to our nation’s founding and culture. What’s wrong is trying to shoehorn the past into supporting our own misinformed beliefs about history and America. Our founding fathers did not create this nation solely based on Christian ideals. Our government is not created to support Christian ideals over others. And most important, we are not a Christian nation.