Friday, October 29, 2010

Why the United States Is a Christian Nation

I'm guessing that headline will provoke some readers to start mentally drafting an angry reply before they have even read the post. It IS a controversial statement today, although it was accepted when our nation was founded. Despite the fact that our Constitution prohibits demanding adherence the Christianity or any other religion, there are other ways one could consider this a Christian nation.

In today's post I am looking at a statements made by President Obama, specifically a summary of several statements he has made on the world stage. The President stated publicly that we are not a Christian nation. His statement surprised many in this country and caused David Barton to put together a refutation consisting of a fine collection of disagreeing statements by various figures throughout our history.

For example, did you know of the following statement by Supreme Court justice Earl Warren (1891-1974)?

I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people. . . . I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.

He did not say we are officially a Christian nation, which of course we are not. Similarly, this next statement talks about Christianity's nature within our justice system (from the Supreme Court in 1903):

[I]n decisions of this court, the Indian right of occupancy of tribal lands, whether declared in a treaty or otherwise created, has been stated to be sacred. ... Thus... "It is to be presumed that in this matter the United States would be governed by such considerations of justice as would control a Christian people..."

But the best summary I saw in the article is made by Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910):

[I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation -- in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.

There he clearly states what I've been addressing on this blog, that we are not officially a Christian nation, but we are nonetheless a Christian nation in other ways. The article goes on to explain Brewer's statement:

So, if being a Christian nation is not based on any of the above criterion, then what makes America a Christian nation? According to Justice Brewer, America was "of all the nations in the world... most justly called a Christian nation" because Christianity "has so largely shaped and molded it."

Read the entire article below (and see the citations for the quotes above):

Is President Obama Correct: Is America No Longer a Christian Nation?

No comments: