On the USA as a Christian Nation: Part 4 of 4 – My Conclusion

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The purpose of this series is obvious: To examine the notion that the United States of America was founded as a Christian nation, or at least on Christian values and principles. The focus of the previous three posts were the following:

This post (Part 4) focuses on my conclusions and thoughts based on my research. Unlike the previous posts in this series, my thoughts are debatable and subject to agreement and disagreement. Keep in mind that each paragraph stands alone as part of a list – not as flowing text. I numbered the points for easy identification.

Concluding Statements

1) Most of the Framers were either born in a portion of the current United Kingdom (UK) or born of parents from the UK – a place holding a connection between God and Liberty – and a place that was predominantly Christian. The same would be the same for those from the Colonies. The God and Liberty concept is based on the inalienable rights of equality coming from God, so liberty is a God-given right (yet some of these Framers had slaves).  From there, it is up to the people in their life and government to use their goodness and virtue to act for the common good of all.

2) Using their Christian-Judeo background, experiences, knowledge of European democracy, and cognitive reasoning, the Framers established a new paradigm known as the US Constitution to differentiate itself from England.

3) The Framers recognized religious influence on English Common Law and in daily life. After all, Blue Laws keeping businesses closed on Sundays were common place for nearly 200 years. The Christian notion of marriage is well established, only to be recently redefined by the Supreme Court.

4) Although the list could go on, the USA being founded on Christian principles/values should not be denied. Then again, there are numerous principles/values that Christians share with multiple religions as well as various non-believer groups as atheists and agnostics. Many principles/values could be considered as secular or simply common to humanity. Therefore, although they may be rooted in Christianity, the founding documents do not promote uniquely Christian principles/values.

5) The relationship between God and Liberty in the US Constitution is clear to me – but not in the same way as others may see it. The Framers saw “unalienable rights” as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness coming from a higher power than human government – not necessarily the Christian God – but rather the god of one’s choosing if they have one.

6) Whereas the Puritans foresaw a strict religious state, other religious leaders during Colonial times (as William Penn and Roger Williams) envisioned religious tolerance as something good – and through their actions and the First Amendment, America became a place for numerous religious minorities.

10) The Framers used generic language to be inclusive. As America grew into a melting pot of diversity, those unalienable right were for Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Secularists, Humanists, Atheists, Agnostics, Christians, and whoever I unintentionally left out.

11) The union between religion and politics is not new because their relationship in America is older than the country itself. During the foundation period of this new country, religious groups influenced the process. Just because some groups desired a Christian nation then and that some groups desire the same today does not mean the United States was established as a Christian nation.

12) The people established the United States of America with a government that is neutral on religion while leaving religious decisions to individuals – not to the federal government, not to any state, not to any political party, and not to any religious organization. Again – the right is to individuals.

When the underlying principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation, the Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or not at all.Justice John Paul Stevens in Lee v. Weisman (1992)

13) The notion of a “Christian America” is a myth. The United States of America was not founded as a Christian nation – it never has been a Christian nation – and is not now! If the framers intended to create a Christian nation, would wouldn’t documents say so? Wouldn’t the intent be overtly obvious?

14) Some of the Framers were outward men of faith – others simply men of private prayer and reflection – and others with no religious belief . Nonetheless, these men sought who intentionally sought religion neutrality. Just as enthusiastic theists can extrapolate references and phrases involving words as God, Creator, and more; others can easily apply the same words in a generic context with an understanding of the god they worship – and without endorsing a particular religion.

The Bottom Line

Today, leaders within the Christian Right continue to perpetuate the myth by cherry-picking data, stretching correlations, and disregarding inconvenient details. No matter the eloquence in their words, anyone stretching the words of our founding documents into Biblical reference is attempting to impose their belief system onto others through politics. Sadly, opinions on the USA as a Christian nation can be aligned with political parties.

Yes – I am Christian – but in no way do I subscribe that branch of Christian thought. As a matter of fact, I am confident the “Christian America” myth is a minority view within American Christianity. There probably also a strong correlation between those promoting the myth and their selfish view of religious liberty.  Perhaps this myth is similar to that of biological evolution – that is, people think they know, but they actually don’t.

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24 thoughts on “On the USA as a Christian Nation: Part 4 of 4 – My Conclusion

    • Jo,
      Yes …”religious neutrality” is a good term. Keep in mind that the reason I did this series is based on what I hear a certain segment of the population say – and yes – I was shocked to hear it in my church – so I just had to do the research for my own peace of mind. Glad to know this series made you think.

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  1. I appreciate your reasoning. I, too, see that this notion of attaching the concept of Christian attitudes to one’s sense of right and wrong can let anyone use those same positive, caring moral and attitudes to justify whatever you want politically. It is a sad state.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patti,
      Thank you. I tried to approach this topic rationally, It was interesting to discover the extent people will go through to rationalize that they are correct in their own mind. That’s scary enough – but then to think that others blindly agree with them! Indeed – very sad.

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  2. This is so clearly composed and I am actually quite grateful you went to the trouble to share such a thoughtful series. I find your stated conclusions line up very closely with how I have believed, but my arguments lack the focus you’ve provided. I have so many friends and famly members who do believe our founders intended a Christian nation, and they interpret the Constitution through that lens. I’m not a great debator, as I get too heated, I’m afraid, but maybe with a better understanding of what you’ve shared I could at least stand my ground with facts and less steam! I would like to mirror your rational and logical approach to sharing information. 😉 Thank you, Frank!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra,
      Thanks for the kind words, support, and plowing your way through this series. Reading papers/columns supporting the notion of a Christian Nation was very helpful. For me, I regularly encountered quantum leaps that caused me to stop and think … and yes, I see various parallels with the evolution issue. When I get I chance, I want to send you some ideas via email.

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  3. Very well done, Frank. Although I do not agree with the religious right on issues regarding Christian conduct and societal norms, I think these opinions are protected under the constitution. (as you so rightly concluded pointing to the Justice John Paul Stevens in Lee v. Weisman opinion). If we do not agree with the espoused principles, then we need to vote their representatives out of office and vote in those with a majority view. Merely disagreeing with a minority view is not enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John,
      Thanks supporting this challenging endeavor. So many times don’t realize the difference between right & wrong vs. differing opinions. … and sometimes the different opinions are established based incorrect information/misconceptions. Oh how complicated knowledge is!
      You mentioned Justice Stevens, but I also used a quote by a justice in the Yes post. …. Even had a President Adams quote in the Yes and On posts!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You did it! You DELIVERED in your Part 4 – especially with points 13 and 14. I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusions and I thank you for having the skill and courage to LAY IT ON THE LINE!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim,
      I recall you being unsure of my approach after Part 2, so glad I was able to deliver something that meets your expectations. This series was in the works for a long time!

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    • Monika,
      Thinking something is true doesn’t necessarily mean it is true – and that is the center point of misconceptions! … and it happens with all topics – and with all people, but on different topics.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Frank, I admire the way you covered this topic and I agree with your conclusions in this part 4. That said, I submit that it is only natural for people to associate politics and religion because both attempt to control the limits of human behavior. I can’t imagine politics evolving without building on religious history, especially since literacy, at least in the West, has its roots in the bible.

    I think there is one primary aspect to this subject that should be emphasized, i.e., that religion is tribal belief by “faith” rather than logic or deduction from fact and is still used by politicians to exert political power. The most recent example of this may be Attorney General Sessions when he quoted Romans this absurd passage:

    Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim,
      Glad you got to see this series. AG Sessions cherry-picked a Biblical quote to strengthen his position, but he conveniently skipped the quote a few chapters later. As for religion being based on faith, that is not part of this series and that is something I have stated before here,

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      • Frank,
        The reason I brought up faith in this context is that the supposed religious nature of our nation, the subject of the series, is still a strong belief in conservative circles. According to Gallup, 51% of Republicans report being “highly religious”. When politics and religion combine, political options and compromise diminish, a trend that seems to getting worse.

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  6. You really outdid yourself with this 4 part series. It appears well researched, honestly debated and opined with dignity.
    I am very impressed with your intellect, and agree with your conclusion.
    I am, however, not an American. As you have mentioned, there are many who would disagree.
    Disagreeing is okay, but whatever happened to agreeing to disagree?
    I’m beginning to blather. Cheers to you, Frank!! 🍷🍷👍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Resa,
      Thanks for the kind words. The topic was very interesting to research. Most commenters understood my intent of the series. Great point about agreeing to disagree. That’s a line that I occasionally use, so I’m surprised I didn’t use it in the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Frank: This is very well done. I caught up on the series as part of my Sunday meditation. I agree with you on everything except one: “I am confident the ‘Christian America’ myth is a minority view within American Christianity.” My entire Christian life was lived and schooled in this view (1972 – 2008), and I assure you it is not a minority view–it has ideologues from sea to shining sea–some of them threatening to storm the White House when Barack Obama was president in order to take back the country in “Jesus’ name.” It is the reason I was afraid of Trump winning the election and you weren’t afraid because you thought he was just hot air, but I knew how many of them were canvasing for him.

    The arm of White Evangelical Christianity (a strong part of the Tea Party and why they rose to promenance so quickly) has been working on the premise that America is a Christian nation that is a Western Jerusalem (a divine right given by God because he has chosen America to be his beacon to the heathen world) since the Moral Majority. Through their revisionist history they have produced “history” books taught as truth in their Christian private schools and colleges that “prove” our forefathers meant for our nation to be Christian and only Christian. It became their raison d’etre to “take back America” as a Christian nation since the Civil Rights Act and Brown vs. Board of Education. It’s the reason Christian private schools were started, it’s the reason they railed against Barack Obama with a vengeance and it is the reason millions of them fasted and prayed on a weekly basis for the demise of Hillary and the election of Trump. It’s the reason they held their noses and turned a blind eye to Trump’s sexual misconduct–take over the Supreme Court, the House, the Executive branch and turn the nation into a Christian Theocracy “as God intended from the beginning.”

    They consider Trump to be a modern-day version of King Cyrus of the Old Testament who gave back Jerusalem to the Jews. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great_in_the_Bible

    White Right Wing Evangelicals believe Trump is going to do the same with the United States so the “true” Christians, and everyone in the land will worship the only true God (Jesus) by obeying a strict set of Christian dogma governing (Dominion Theology) what they call the 7 Mountains Mandate–taking control of the major controlling influences in America and throughout the world: Education, Religion, Family, Business, Government/Military, Arts/Entertainment, Media . This religious grouping of Christians comprise Right Wing Catholics, Calvinists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Presbyterians, and some Episcopalians. The religious people who whisper in Trumps ear are all of this ilk, and so are most of his cabinet and friends (Vice President Pence, Carson, Devos, Pruitt, Sunny Perdue, Tellerson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mike Huckabee, Flynn, Kelly Ann Conway, Rick Perry, Sessions, Sarah Palin, etc.–most of them who meet in a weekly Bible study, by the way. Do you think Sessions and Huckabee pulled those scriptures justifying taking children from their parents at the border out of their butts?).

    It’s why getting the Supreme Court was such a strategic coupe and why Roe v. Wade and Gay rights will be what they go after first via the Supreme Court. I know this because until 2008 I was a part of it all and witnessed it first hand. I have lost every White Christian Evangelical friend I ever had because I started speaking out about them. (My book “Fleeing Oz” is all about that journey.) The popularity of Fox News didn’t happen in a vacuum, it happened because of White Evangelical support (it is the only media outlet they listen to, and they declare it proudly to anyone who will listen)–the same ones who bolster CBN by Pat Robertson (also one of the “true believers” that America is Jesus’ Jerusalem). To think them a minority will be our undoing mainly because TV Evangelists have millions of followers and they literally tell them how to think and vote and who to listen to.

    Be afraid, my friend–be very afraid!

    P.S. If you haven’t done so already, check out the works of Frank Schaeffer, son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer who was the founder of the Christian Anti-abortion movement. Frank broke away as I did and has been trying to sound the alarm for decades.

    Liked by 1 person

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