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I'm a simple man, not a simpleton. The worst thing any of our leaders can do is to get those two things confused. I'm a warrior for those things I believe in. I stand up for my friends, family, God, and country. All I truly want is for the government to stay as far out of my life as I can get it. Oh and just in case you haven't guessed it; I'm conservative in my bones.


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Monday, December 1, 2008

America the Christian Nation- The Argument

I have been told, recently, that America was not a Christian nation. Also, I was told that we, as Christians, are a minority. I decided to do more research into an area that I already had a familiarity with, our birth as a nation.
This is going to be the only post that I will openly say that there will be rules to comments that are allowed to be posted here. If you have an argument, then you MUST show proof of claims. I will not allow speculation or emotional arguments. I will provide proofs to everything that I claim as Truth.

Firstly, I should go back to the beginnings. What was the motivation for the people that originally came to America? The original colonists were made up of people that came to America for the purpose of preserving their religous beliefs. They were in opposition to the Church of England and knew that the only way for them to be able to worship and live as they believed was to leave and move to Amsterdam. Due to an inability to understand and integrate into life in the Netherlands led the Pilgrims to leave and with the help of English investors, created the first colonies in the New World. The centerpiece of the colonists government was a belief in God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. -paraphrased from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilgrims.

Now lets skip forward to something that is, perhaps more germane, our Founding Fathers. If you look at the religous affiliations of the Signers of the Declaration of Independance and the Constitution of the United States, you will find that every one of them were listed as being a member of one of several different Christian denominations. If must needs, I can list at least 18 different men who were either signers of the Constitution or Declaration of Independance and quote them and their feelings of faith. Furthermore, just so there is no mistake, and this being the week after Thanksgiving, I feel that it is appropriate to post the text of the Continental Congress November 1, 1777 national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation; as printed in the Journals of Congress.

"Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased him in his abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defense and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success:
It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace; that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labor of the husbandman, that our land may yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
And it is further recommended, that servile labor, and such recreation as, though at other times innocent, may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment, be omitted on so solemn an occasion."

So much for the "wall of seperation of church and state."


Joe said...

I don't have to prove anything, because I completely agree with you, and you proved it for me!

Well said.

Larry T Durham said...

Keep preaching it brother!

Ducky's here said...

Well here goes but it is tough to carry on a conversation on a moderated site where the moderator is the final judge of what constitutes "proof", especially of a very complex topic.

Let's start by pointing out that I refer to your conception of Christianity, which I take to be evangelical, literal Biblical truth and justified by faith only. I do maintain that is a minority position and not representative of the nation today not its roots.

First you mention the Pilgrims. Well, I don't think they were a moving force after the founding of the nation. They did love to persecute the religious though and in spite of it there were a number of religious movements that became dominant in New England which hardly fit your conception.
Unitarians, Shakers, Quakers, Mormons. All out of the Northeast. There were also secular movements like the transcendentalists.
The Shakers formed socialist communities and secular groups founded communities like Brook Farm.
Hawthorne, Melville ... our first important writers were hardly evangelicals. Melville certainly wasn't. Hawthorne was more sympathetic to the idea of original sin but he found the Puritans to be a very hypocritical lot. The Northeast just wasn't the evangelical nation you imagine. The Puritans were a only a part of New England history.

Now you may be able to list 18 men who you feel are exemplary Christians but that isn't enough to claim a Christian nation (and even less Judeo).

Who were the founders? Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Monroe, Madison, Jackson? Quite a diverse set of beliefs. Now the Virginians among them were certainly church goers because they were born English citizens and therefore necessarily Anglican church members.

But was Jefferson a Christian in the evangelical sense. Certainly not. He, like Franklin and others, was a product of the enlightenment and his thought is heavily pantheist.
Do Monroe's religious beliefs figure prominently in his writings? No, so just how important were they to the nations founding.
You do have Adams, the failed second president and a figure not up to the others.
Was Andrew Jackson a pious man?

Then we have a legal system that developed over time and was modeled on English case law, not the 10 commandments as the myth goes.

I just don't see anything that isn't anecdotal in your defense. Were there Christians in the nations original political class. Absolutely.
Did they constitute the core? No.

We can take it up further if you like.

Ducky's here said...

The following excerpt is from the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli with the Barbary Pirates. If you are curious about the role that the founders thought religion should play, why not read what the founders, Thomas Jefferson as President and Timothy Pickering, as Secretary of State, actually put on paper about the issue:

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."


I see your declaration and raise ...

Greywolfe said...

The treaty of Tripoli merely underscores that we don't live in a Theocracy Ducky. It sought, in your quote, to reassure the government of tripoli that there would never be a hostile action against Tripoli based on religious beliefs.

And I would really love to know at which point in this debate we brought in the reference to writers of the time. They did not have any influence on the foundation of this country and let's face it, there's a large body of writers today that I read but don't agree with on any social or political philosophy.

Now as to the 18 men I can quote, let's see what these founders(men involved in the FORMATION OF OUR NATION AND IT'S CONSTITUTION have to say, specifically about God in governance.

John Adams
Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Second President of the United States

[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.

(Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, 1854), Vol. IX, p. 401, to Zabdiel Adams on June 21, 1776.)

[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

(Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. 1854), Vol. IX, p. 229, October 11, 1798.)

The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet," and "Thou shalt not steal," were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.

(Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. VI, p. 9.)

If that doesn't do it for you ducky, let's try this one.

John Quincy Adams

Sixth President of the United States

The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.

(Source: John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams, to His Son, on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), p. 61.)

There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.

(Source: John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams to His Son on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), pp. 22-23.)

Or if you don't like that, how about these?

Benjamin Franklin

Signer of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence

[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

(Source: Benjamin Franklin, The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Tappan, Whittemore and Mason, 1840), Vol. X, p. 297, April 17, 1787. )

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that "except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.

(Source: James Madison, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Max Farrand, editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911), Vol. I, pp. 450-452, June 28, 1787.)
Samuel Adams

Signer of the Declaration of Independence

[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.

(Source: William V. Wells, The Life and Public Service of Samuel Adams (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1865), Vol. I, p. 22, quoting from a political essay by Samuel Adams published in The Public Advertiser, 1749.)

Fisher Ames

Framer of the First Amendment

Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits . . . it is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers.

(Source: Fisher Ames, An Oration on the Sublime Virtues of General George Washington (Boston: Young & Minns, 1800), p. 23.)

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.

(Source: Bernard C. Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers, 1907), p. 475. In a letter from Charles Carroll to James McHenry of November 4, 1800.)

Oliver Ellsworth

Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court

[T]he primary objects of government are the peace, order, and prosperity of society. . . . To the promotion of these objects, particularly in a republican government, good morals are essential. Institutions for the promotion of good morals are therefore objects of legislative provision and support: and among these . . . religious institutions are eminently useful and important. . . . [T]he legislature, charged with the great interests of the community, may, and ought to countenance, aid and protect religious institutions—institutions wisely calculated to direct men to the performance of all the duties arising from their connection with each other, and to prevent or repress those evils which flow from unrestrained passion.

(Source: Connecticut Courant, June 7, 1802, p. 3, Oliver Ellsworth, to the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut)

So, in closing, you haven't a leg to stand on if you still want to claim with the aid of a minor document, that we were not formed as a christian nation. The fact that our founders were products of the Reformation and therefore members of many different denominations is irrelevant. As for what I read in their public and private writings, I see no examples of pantheism. Instead I see men who had a deep and abiding faith in their Christ. That is the view I would have us recapture. Their are many countries that have secular points of view in their governance and if you would like to go there, I'd be happy to give you a ticket.

WomanHonorThyself said...

dont fret my friend..if Hussein Obama gets to the WH..we will all be under shariah in no time.............

Anonymous said...

Great post TOP! Very well said indeed!

["I do maintain that is a minority position and not representative of the nation today not its roots"]

I don't understand how you can say Christianity is a minority??


This website although a little dated states 85% of America as being Christian. The numbers may have fluctuated over a few years, but not enough to overrule my point.


This website has 77% so your argument that Christianity is a minority is way off!

Ducky's here said...

[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.


I'm curious why you feel that has ANYTHING to do with evangelical Christianity.

Now you presented some examples and I had already acknowledged Adams as a Christian close to the conventional sense but he was only one of many.

Franklin? Most definitely not and not even knocking on the door.

I still don't see much in the founding that rests on Christian doctrine. A Federal form of government is independent of any church.

Does a nation need a sense of values to survive? Yes.
Does it necessarily need the values of the most literal evangelical sects? No.

I can appreciate the nervousness of the religious right these days since they are becoming heavily marginalized but that is a matter of there extreme doctrine and failure to understand mainstream America.

WomanHonorThyself said...

keep the faith my friend!

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