America Was Founded as a Christian Nation
When our Founding Fathers referred to this nation as a “Christian Nation,” as did John Jay, one of authors of Federalist Papers, they did not intend that this be understood in the sense that an official church had been established, or that a “Theocracy” was in place, but rather that the principles upon which our republic rests were Christian in origin. Benjamin
Morris, a second-generation American, in surveying the mass of material on this topic, summarized:
Christianity is the principle and all-pervading element, the deepest and most solid foundation, of all our civil Institutions. It is the religion of the people—the national religion; but we have neither an established church noran established religion.” 1
Some of founders even referred to America as a “Christian Republic.” That generation demonstrated this by the fact that they adorned public buildings with biblical symbols such as Moses crossing Red Sea; or Moses holding tablets of stone carved on the building of the Supreme Court; or the even state papers of the Continental Congress that are filled with Christianity.
One of the formative laws of the United States is the Declaration of Independence, which reads more like a theological statement to the secularists of today. Our republic posited that rights come from God and that the single role of government is to protect what God gave us, inclusive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Republic itself is
an outgrowth of Christian principles.
Roger Sherman, from Connecticut, one of the most influential of the founders, having signed not only the Declaration of Independence, but the Articles of Confederation as well as the Constitution. He wrote to Samuel Baldwin in 1790 that “his faith in the new republic was largely because he felt it was founded on Christianity as he understood it.”
Joseph Story, a jurist who served on the Supreme Court during the founding era and wrote the first lengthy Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, commented as follows:
Probably at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the amendment to it now under consideration, the general, if not the universal sentiment was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.
The Supreme Court in numerous cases has referred to this as “A Christian Nation.” Most notable is the 1892 case entitled The Church of the Holy Trinity v. The United States. Here the Court packed its decision with a litany of precedents from American history to establish “this is a religious people, … this is a Christian Nation.”
Nathan Jun of MSU
The above facts are not only not taught today, but the mere mention of them irritates a large percentage of Americans. After a public seminar on this topic in which I participated, one woman wrote to the Times Record News that this was “tortured history” and that America most definitely was a secular nation. In response I included this paragraph:
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (cited in the US Supreme Court case [of 1892, mentioned above] said that“Christianity is and always has been a part of the common law.” … The Supreme Court of 1844 (Vidal) said, “It is unnecessary for us, … to consider the establishment of a school for college for the propagation of Judaism or Deism or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country.”
1 Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, 39-40.
I also noted that Noah Webster, who helped ratify our Constitution, wrote that the source of our republican principles “is the Bible, particularly the New Testament or Christian religion.”
Concluding, I added that regarding to “deists” by whom our nation was supposedly founded, that at the time of the Constitutional Convention deists were not even allowed to hold public office! 2 An actual listing of the religious preferences of the delegates to the Constitutional convention of 1787 shows that 55 declared themselves Christians while only 3 called themselves deists. That is about 5%.
Nathan Jun of MSU
After the above exchange in the paper, Dr. Nathan Jun of Midwestern State University came in to help out the secular cause. He wrote:
In response to Bill Lockwood’s … letter: The First Amendment of the Constitution states that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …’ Both conventional approaches to interpreting the ‘establishment clause’ – the separationist as well as the more conservative accommodationist approach—strictly preclude any implicit or explicit religious preferences on the part of the Constitution or Congress.
The United States of America is most certainly not a ‘Christian’ nation, and this is a basic and uncontroversial principle of constitutional law. Whether or not a preponderance of the founders of this country were Christians, moreover, is wholly irrelevant. The government they founded is and has been secular in principle, if not always in spirit. The antiquated, anti-Semitic Supreme Court decision that Mr. Lockwood cited (instead of, say, the
Constitution) says nothing about the fundamental character of our system of government. It does, however, say an awful lot about Mr. Lockwood and, perhaps, about his particular brand of Christianity—at least to this non-Christian.
The errors in Dr. Jun’s statement are so numerous that it is only possible to note a few highlights. I wrote:
Dr. Jun: sir, your philosophy is woefully misinformed. The 1 st Amendment, according to James Madison, merely forbids the federal government from establishing a ‘national church.’ No one then, nor do I, wish to have an official state church. However, that is far different from speaking of our Christian nation in the sense of recognizing Christian principles being imbedded within its framework and forming the underpinning of our
society. As Patrick Henry put it, this nation ‘was founded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.’ Joseph Story, appointed by Madison to the Supreme Court, said, ‘we do not attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity … an attempt to level all religions and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference would have created universal disapprobation …’
I suppose that these men are too antiquated to know what they are talking about land need modernists from Universities to straighten them out. Not a Christian nation? ‘Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege … of our Christian nation to select Christians as their rulers’ (John Jay, 1 st chief justice of the Supreme Court).
Next, I only mentioned that the Founders were Christians in answer to another letter which opined that this country was founded by a bunch of deists and secular humanists—not as proof of a Christian nation. You missed that point as well.
Third, to cavalierly dismiss as ‘anti-Semitic’ the 1892 Supreme Court decision which identified us as a Christiannation bespeaks of deep-seated prejudice by Dr. Jun and a fundamental lack of understanding about the roots of America. It is extremely sad that our tax dollars support this type of radical expression.
2 See Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia, p. 215.
In truth, the fact that this was established as a Christian nation infuriates the secularists in our country. Perhaps they ought to be thankful that the only “accommodation” that America made was to the irreligious, allowing them to live freely in a Christian nation without forcing them to support a state-sponsored church.
After the above public exchange, I contacted Dr. Jun by email in an effort to engage in a public discussion on Christianity in general and the existence of God. But his contempt for Christianity apparently knows no bounds as he tartly replied,“do not ever contact me again.”
So much for a free society where ideas can be exchanged openly in gentlemanly fashion.