The Myth of a Christian Nation

I hinted around the idea, in my last post, that there is a problem with the mentality that says that America is a “Christian” nation. Today, I want to discuss that idea in further detail.

Because of the First Amendment, the statement that America is a “Christian” nation is blatantly false. A case might be able to be made that it was founded on Christian principles, but even that is a stretch. America was founded as a Representative Republic and a land where the settlers could be free from the tyranny of their previous leaders. It had nothing, really, to do with being a Christian versus being a pagan. England was a Christian nation in that the church and the state were enmeshed with each other. America was to be something vastly different.

America was founded as a place where religious freedom would be respected. It was a place where one would be allowed to be a Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or a Christian and no one could say that it was illegal or ostracize you for your religious preference. Sadly, this vision died quickly in the history of our nation.

By the early to mid 1800’s, there was a new idea and that was “Manifest Destiny;” this idea that God wanted us to expand all across the Continent; the idea that God had given us this land and it was our duty to settle it. And who seemed to lead the way? The church.

As the United States expanded to include more territory, the church established schools to assimilate the Native peoples into the American way. They basically kidnapped children from their families, punished them for speaking their own languages, and forced them to learn English and the American way of doing things. All the while, these schools sought to indoctrinate and convert these children to the Christian religion. While it wasn’t illegal to be of another religious persuasion, it was discouraged, if not in word, then in deed.

In the midst of this grand expansion, groups like the Latter-Day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses sprang up, groups that revel in brainwashing and control of their adherents. And this was all done, of course, in the name of God and the name of religion, and, to lesser or greater degrees depending on the sect, in the name of America.

This is not to say that God did not destine European settlers to come here. In a way, He did give them this land, but I don’t believe that God intended for them to abuse it and the indigenous people as they did. God did, and does, have a plan for America, but it was not to be a “city on a hill” in any political sense. If anything, God was calling people to the same kind of inclusion of “outsiders” that Jesus did.

But God did not call on the settlers to create a “Christian” nation. And the framers of our Constitution knew this. They did indeed acknowledge that God had endowed mankind with certain rights, but those rights were not formulated by a necessarily Christian worldview and were not limited to only those who held to the tenants of the religion. All men were granted those rights, regardless of religion.

To claim that America is a Christian nation is to tell a lie. After all, if it were true, then wouldn’t we look a lot more like Jesus?

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5 thoughts on “The Myth of a Christian Nation

  1. uberagathon says:

    We wouldn’t look or act more like Jesus because we are human. Also, your post lacks some valuable facts; facts you ought to look up for your own benefit. One: although America was not founded as a unitary Christian entity, the overtones resonate in the prose of every founding document. Additionally, references to certain philosophic aspects such as natural law come from Christian Thought. Two: American political thought was an outgrowth of European political thought, which was formulated under the tutelage of the Church. Although the U.S. sought to mitigate the tyrannical problems that sprouted as a result of combining church and state, the influence of the church is still contained within the constitution. Third: if you examine some of the governments that completely break with Christianity, such as Communism or Fascism you begin to realize the stark difference in the Christian and non-Christian countries. Fourth: please don’t fool yourself into thinking that it is better to life in a Hindu or Muslim Society. Obviously, since you are enjoying the final fruits of a dying European culture in the this country, you are not too serious in what you proclaim. Finally, is Christianity really that bad? Last I checked, the Church was against pre-emptive strikes against the Middle-East and the Church certainly does not behead infidels. Could it be possible that the non-Christian nation that you flout has problems? Is it the non-Christian aspect of our country that invades others, spends trillions on wars, enables businesses to take advantage of others, and allows its economy to be outsourced to foreign nations for 1 Dollar a-day wages? Is that the country you want to live in?

  2. CM'Blog says:

    I once read it is the way the framers established our government that allows for atheists to not only declare freedom of religion, but freedom from religion as well.

    Even so, historical analogy isn’t always the best form of analysis. If we were to look at religion and politics the way the media and politicians have framed it today, we could convincingly argue that America is a “Christian” nation.

  3. uberagathon says:

    I guess it all has to do with what church you follow. Remember, some “churches” are mouthpieces for the administration; some preachers are merely demagogues. Very distressing, isn’t it?

  4. […] June 24, 2008 The Myth of a Christian Nation Posted by pizzarebbe under Uncategorized   The Myth of a Christian Nation — 3 comments […]

  5. Tim Kelley says:

    Boyd is right in the purest sense that NO nation/state is “christian”. Only individuals are/can be. The point of New testament Christianity is that God has suspended “nation-buliding” IE as with Isreal and with the NT. began a new, more international, borderless approach for building His Kingdom by taking up residence in individual believers.

    Butthere is still however an extent to which all nations/states are judged based on a corporate righteousness in a general sense(Proverbs- “righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people”) To the degree that any group of people/ citizens of a particular country/ the degree that their corporate acts are in the “right” is to the general degree that they will be blessed( in a general sense even though many of the people may not personally be believers.)

    To this degree a nation/state, (while it is impossible for it to be identified as a “Christian” nation)- comprised of Chistian individuals and church bodies that can and should be employed in activites that bring about blessing within that realm of influence. ie nation/state.

    As far as the argument that the founding of america was by a bunch of card carrying secularists..nothing is further from the truth. America was founded by INDIVIDUALS who were not in agreement in many ways and yet in so many ways were as opposed to modern day american individuals in relation to their acknoweledgement of a supreme being. The main difference was some people believed you could not know this supreme being(Deists) and the others believed that you could know him as reperesented the incarnation- Jesus.

    While in the technical sense we cannot claim to be a Chritian nation we CAN claim and SHOULD acknowledge the lives of exemplary Chritians in our nations past that have used their freedoms to promote Christian principles and ideologies… while simultaneously identifying and ackowledging areas where the invidual church can provide a clearer representation of Christ and His borderless mission that is much greater than Americanism.

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