US is a Christian nation

From Issuepedia
Revision as of 01:47, 5 October 2007 by Woozle (talk | contribs) (moved some things over from Sep. of Church & State; added some links; general reorg)
Jump to navigation Jump to search


It is often argued, especially by Biblical fundamentalists, that the United States is a Christian nation – that is, that one or both of the following are true:

  • The country's laws (especially the Constitution) are based on Christian teachings, especially the Ten Commandments.
  • The founding fathers intended to endorse and support Christianity, or Christian principles, by codifying them in law.

The truth or falseness of these suggestion is still being evaluated, but it remains clear that the founding fathers did intend a separation of church and state.

The Constitution

In the United States, the separation of church and state is spelled out in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits the Federal legislature from making laws that:

There are some areas where such separation is apparently ignored by tradition:

  • By law, the country's currency now carries the motto "In God We Trust." (Need source: what law?)
  • Congress begins its sessions with a prayer.
  • The words "under God" were, by law, added to the customary United States Pledge of Allegiance (on Flag Day in 1954).

There is obviously a vague area where "free excercise of religion" and "freedom of speech" come into contact with preventing the state from establishing or sanctioning a religion: a state-salaried teacher or principal (for example) arguably represents the voice of the state, which must be restrained by the establishment clause, but the same person is also an individual and has the rights of free speech and free excercise.

Treaty of Tripoli

The Treaty with Tripoli states in part:

from the Treaty with Tripoli, English translation:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.


Part of the problem with "including God" is that, while it includes the vast majority of religions present in the United States, which are mainly branches of Judeo-Christianity (or, more technically, Abrahamic religions), it does exclude some of them, and is therefore arguably "preferring a certain religion". It also specifically excludes atheists and agnostics, who are now much greater in number than they were at the time of the First Amendment and sometimes feel threatened or coerced by official sanction of any ideas whose sole justification is found within religious doctrine.

Need to find some specifics about the battles over displaying the Ten Commandments in (or outside of) court.

It should also be mentioned that many of the early settlers in the US, pre-1776, were fleeing religious persecution, and hence were quite supportive of the separation of church and state as it ensured that they could never again be persecuted with the government's sanction. Those who would remove or weaken this separation have either forgotten this bit of history, or are sure enough that they would be in the majority that they are content to allow the persecution of heathens to resume.

Related Pages

  • to be the basis of modern law (or of the US Constitution), though the connection seems tenuous at best.


  • Snopes checks the claim that "Religious symbols and references abound in U.S. capital buildings and the words of America's founders", and finds it mostly false or misleading.
  • Is America a Christian Nation?: supposedly a dialogue between Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy and Rev. Barry W. Lynn, although both seem to agree on pretty much everything including the necessity of separation of church and state. Significant events in the history of religion in the United States are discussed.





"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758 (written by Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers)