Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is the United States a Christian Nation?

Is the United States a Christian nation or is it not? It cannot be disputed that this nation was founded by God-fearing men, mostly Christian. And it seems that they believed the destiny of this nation was linked to the Faithfulness of its inhabitants and their leaders. However, they established a secular Constitution. Why would they do this?

The state religions of Europe were utterly disastrous with indoctrinated hypocrisy and rampant persecution. Where they were not tools of the state, they were the state, a situation that corrupted one or, more likely, both parties. Obviously, this was an unworkable model if the sanctity of either were to be preserved.

But our Framers held other beliefs, as well. They believed in free markets and the open exchange of ideas. If the government could be kept out of any and all religions, they would stand or fall of their own merits. Every religion could spread their message and integrate into the communities. Churches (or whatever) would gain or lose followers based on the same principles that make goods or services successful, or that promote an entertainer or politician. Perhaps even the one true faith would prevail. The Framers may have expected this of Christianity, but they knew well enough not to force an outcome.

Therefore, in answer to whether the U.S. is a Christian nation, the nation is whatever its people are. Currently, the largest religious preference in the United States is Christianity, at over 78% in 2007. This number includes all forms of Catholicism, Protestantism, Evangelicals, et al. The second largest group is “no religious preference” at about 16%. This would lead one to believe that we are indeed a Christian nation.

As such, one would expect in a Federalist system that laws and ordinances of such a nation would reflect the values of Christianity along with due respect given to those outside of this majority. Heck, if a particular group wanted to, they should be able to go form a community governed by Sharia law within the United States. This thinking wouldn’t be dissimilar to what settled the Mormons in Utah.

Unfortunately, the separation of the State from the Church* has not been maintained. Freedom of religion has been contorted into freedom from religion. This twisted interpretation of the First Amendment finds that any expression of faith in the public arena becomes a tacit endorsement of religion by the State. Any such endorsement is, by this logic, verboten; therefore any such expression needs be quashed. The unintended consequence of this is a tacit state endorsement of Atheism.

*I propose preference for use of the phrase “Separation of State from Church” to summarize the religion clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

"Religious Composition of the U.S.". U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 2007. http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/affiliations-all-traditions.pdf. Retrieved on 2009-07-28.

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