The U.S. Is NOT A Christian Nation

Capitol Building

I have heard it said many times that America should support a certain principle (usually conservative) because America was founded as a Christian Nation. When I hear this, I immediately wonder where this notion came from. We know that America is clearly not a “Christian” nation, considering the fact that the Constitution never mentions Christianity or Jesus, and the only mention of religion in the text is in the First Amendment where it seeks to respect the free exercise of any particular religion, I find it interesting where this thought came from.

The answer actually resides in the way America was set up. Contrary to what many Christians today believe, the goal of the Constitution was not to proclaim Christianity as the official religion of America, but actually to disorient any notion of that particular thought. The goal of the founding fathers was to establish a country in which a particular religious system was not collectively in cahoots with the established state.

This was one of the main problems in Europe at the time. The Church and the State were linked, causing a whole array of problems to exist. While there were several founding fathers who were in fact Christian, the reality is that their goal was to keep Christianity, or any other religion, from becoming a functioning part of the state.

Ever since the reign of Roman emperor Constantine the Great in the early 4th Century, Christianity has become an institutionalized religion. Let me rephrase that. Christianity has become (in the western world) the institutionalized religion.

Before Constantine, Christianity was far different than we see it now. In fact, it would be difficult to associate it with the modern title of Christianity, considering the differences between it and today’s established, institutionalized religion. Think of the church of Acts. It was a message of beauty. It was a desire to proclaim the beauty of the gospel to all. Many were persecuted, and it consisted of a small following.

The terror of the Roman Empire created little willingness to follow an outlawed religion. But when Constantine converted to Christianity, and it became a part of the state, it was reformulated. It became the dominant religion, and with this, it became the ordering sheriff of its world.

Christianity was no longer about the beautiful gospel message. It became about getting people to behave. It became about attacking those who didn’t agree. It became about war. It became about nationalism and patriotism. It became law and order. It became about God’s chosen people. It became about how to do all the right things to get to heaven and what everyone else should be doing so they won’t go to hell. It was no longer about bringing heaven to earth. No longer was it about the beauty of the gospel.

To see the attempts of Christians to force their religion into the religion of America, is really not a shock. This is what Christianity has been doing for 17 centuries. And sadly, it is largely what Christianity has become.

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4 thoughts on “The U.S. Is NOT A Christian Nation

  1. Daniel Digby says:

    What? I’m sure you’re wrong. It says right here in my history textbook approved by the state of Texas that the US was founded on Christian principles and the constitution is based on the 10 commandments (although I was never able to find that part of the constitution).

    Even if you’re right, wouldn’t that make the US based on Jewish principles? It’s just that the Jews got the Sabbath day wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jonolan says:

    You’re wrong. America was and, for the most part, still a Christian nation. Nor did our Founders want it otherwise, though they did demand room and tolerance for non-Christians within it. Nor too did they even really consider “Christianity” et al as their complaints weren’t about Christianity; they were about sectarian conflict WITHIN Christianity. Nor too again, did they do this to “protect” the government from the Church, but to protect the Church from the government.

    It wasn’t until the late 19th or early 20th century that certain sort within America’s borders made the conflict into what it is today…in direct contradiction to the desires of the Founders.

    Now, about Constantine’s re-envisioning of Rome – Spot on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Daniel Digby says:

      While America was and is predominantly Christian, I think part of what you say is either wrong or misleading. “[nor] did they do this to “protect” the government from the Church” is not the point. The first amendment is to protect the citizens, not the government. That guarantee extends to federal legislation and regulations, but by the 10th amendment is not something that can be reinterpreted by states. It is often ignored nationally, and it is definitely contradicted by many state governments, where for instance, atheists are prohibited from running for state office (which also completely ignores article IV of the constitution). This is ironic, since this is often considered a “states rights” issue. However, article IV of the Constitution addresses this issue specifically.

      Let me single out Antonin Scalia, since he considered himself to be an “originalist” and was a founding member of the Federalist Society, which specializes in interpreting the ideas and wishes of our founding fathers. The name is based on the Federalist Papers,written by the most famous of our founding fathers, Publius. (Very few, if any of our esteemed legislators even have a clue who he was. To save the suspense, it was an allonym used by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to pitch the Constitution to the New York legislature.)

      Scalia worked using the assumption that all founding fathers unanimously agreed on all issues, and so whatever interpretation he cherry-picked from original papers and rulings had to be what all the founding fathers agreed on. That’s the reason that whatever he decided always achieved consensus at SCOTUS (that’s sarcasm if you missed it). I’ll agree that he was witty, but the very idea that he was able to divine the wishes of the “founding fathers” is a fiction that runs rampant in our memory of him.

      If you have any doubts, look at the history of the Federalist Papers, itself (https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06.html). As you can see there is strong support for Christianity, but it is anything but unanimous. In fact, if you bother with the biographies of some of these strong supporters, it often comes late in life and isn’t necessarily consistent throughout their lives. Ben Franklin is a good place to start.

      Now let me get to your last statement. “It wasn’t until the late 19th or early 20th century that certain sort within America’s borders made the conflict into what it is today…in direct contradiction to the desires of the Founders.” This is bullshit. It assumes the same kind of unanimity as proposed by Scalia. Why do you think we have article IV and the first amendment (the only mentions of religion in the Constitution)? As I pointed out in my other comment, your last comment is right in one sense. History is getting reinterpreted by evangelicals, so there is definitely a conflict, and it did increase, especially in the 20th century.

      Liked by 1 person

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