Saturday, July 5, 2014
America: Christian or Secular?
“In God We Trust”. A simple statement really, one that appears on all of our currency, whether in bill form or coin. One cannot go down the street without seeing many churches in most cities, and if you are a person running for office you generally claim that you are a person of faith, in particular faith in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. National days of prayer are called annually and regularly in this country. All of this seems to imply that Americans are driven by faith and that this country is fundamentally Christian.
But is America a Christian nation? What does the statement mean? What exactly is Christian and how would one go about defining whether a nation is a Christian nation? If America is a Christian nation, what does that say to people of different faiths in the country, as well as those who have no faith of any kind, which is the highest growing group in the United States according to a recent Gallup and Pew Poll?
When speaking of whether or not someone or something is Christian, it must subscribe to the divinity and worship of Jesus of Nazareth. Many people admire Jesus’ teachings and life, but do not believe in his divinity and are thus not Christian. So to be a “Christian Nation”, the nation must have as part of its origin the belief that Jesus is the Son of God and this must be an official part of it founding and governing documents.
However, this is not the case. The Declaration of Independence, our nations founding document, says nothing about the divinity of Jesus or Christianity. Neither does the Constitution of the United States. It is true that the word “creator” appears in the Declaration of Independence, but it does not say that this creator is Jesus or the God of the Old Testament. From the founding documents there is only one conclusion: America is a secular nation.
It may surprise some, but most of the Founding Fathers were not Christian; they were deists. For those unfamiliar with the term let me explain. A deist is a person who believes in God, but does not believe that he intervenes with humans. Christians are theists; meaning they believe that not only did God create life but intervenes and interacts with it regularly.
Not only were most of the founders not Christian, but also most of them were outspokenly critical of the system. Perhaps these quotes will help: “Lighthouses are more useful than churches” – Benjamin Franklin; “This would be the best of all worlds if their were no religion in it” – John Adams; “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man”- Thomas Jefferson. Let me remind you that these three men were the committee who wrote the document now known to the world as the Declaration of Independence. If this was their view of Christianity, how could they have possibly intended to create a Christian nation?
It is true that most people who believe in God in this country are Christian, but that does not make the nation Christian. If these people who are currently about 80 percent of the population were truly Christian, then we would see fruits of it. Their master said himself “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). These people who claim to be Christian are in disputes over abortion, gay marriage, torture, prayer, and a host of other issues. If America is a Christian nation, it is a very poor one.
The Founders and founding documents of this country wanted to keep religion and state separate. Lets keep to their vision and keep it that way. In no way does this mean that religion is bad or harmful; but it is to be kept private and out of the public square.