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A Christian Nation?

Posted by MacZad
Aug 16 2012

The Christian fundamentalists keep saying that the country was founded as a "Christian Nation," that we have strayed from being one, and must again become one. Actually, the reverse is true; all but ignored initially, god and religion have enjoyed increased official recognition over the years.

That the Nation was founded by men of the Christian faith is beyond doubt, but a look at the nation's founding documents clearly shows that they carefully excluded any mention of god and minimized even the mention of religion. The applicable quotes:

  • There is no mention of religion or god in the original Constitution adopted in 1787 other than Article VI which says,"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
  • The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in 1791 provided only that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

The Constitution's Article VI allows an even atheist to become President, but they elsewhere provided that he/she must be native born. Those are very strange priorities for a "Christian Nation."

However, despite the founding documents god and religion have been creeping into the laws of our land for many years. Here's some highpoints of the history:

  • The first affirmation of God by the federal government was when IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.
  • The Coinage Act of February 12, 1873 stated that the Secretary of the Treasury, "may cause the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to be inscribed on such coins as shall admit of such motto."
  • Congress by the Act of May 18, 1908, ordered IN GOD WE TRUST mandatory on all coins upon which it had previously appeared, and it has appeared on all coins since 1916.
  • In 1931 Congress proclaimed The Star Spangled Banner the U.S. National Anthem. Its seldom sung fourth verse includes the words, "In God is our trust."
  • In 1954 Congress inserted the phrase “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance at the behest of the Roman Catholic Church’s Knights of Columbus. Francis Bellamy the 1892 composer of the Pledge was a strong believer in and advocate of complete separation of church and state, and the change certainly went against his beliefs as it decreased the Pledge's emphasis on patriotism by inserting a religious element.
  • In 1956 a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, made IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States , and it was first used on paper money in 1957.
  • 1983 was declared as The Year of the Bible by Joint Congressional Resolution.
  • In 1988, a Joint Resolution of Congress declared that the first Thursday in May of each year as a National Day of Prayer.
  • More recently we have President George W. Bush's "Faith Based Initiatives."

In Summary: What we have is a federal government that functioned for the better part of its first century acknowledging only that religions existed, but which since has been increasing affirming a god (by probably unconstitutional legislation) in opposition to the intent of the nation's founders. So, despite the Christian fundamentalists' assertations, it's now closer to being a "Christian Nation" than it was when it was founded.

An earlier post shows the dangers of the fundamentalists' push to further integrate their god into the laws on the land.

Categories: Defending Religious Freedom, Seeking Truth - Debunking Dogma