“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Thomas Jefferson wrote those words to express the emotions of a nation that desired freedom, and to shake the foundation of the British Empire. However, this simple, but eloquent phrase has sparked one of the greatest debates in American history. Is America a Christian nation? One question has divided the nation and its politicians since the founding and forming of America. This fiery debate has sparked more controversy than any other debate in modern politics.
When the facts are analyzed and examined it points to the side that America was not, and is not a Christian nation. It is not a Christian nation because the Founding Father’s ideas for this country were no meant to be entangled with a national religion. There are clear and precise arguments on both sides, but one must put aside all biases and see that America’s founders had no intention of making America into a nation that was centered on one religion. Through their own writings, letters, and actions the founders have shown that creating a government that protected the rights and liberties of the people was the primary and fundamental goal. The War for American Independence was not fought because the colonists wanted to separate from England, which already had a national religion, to create another nation based on a religion. It was fought in order to free themselves from the tyrannical monarchs that lived hundreds of miles away. In order to discover the solution to this debate the founding of this nation must be analyzed in detail. Furthermore, it is important to look at this history because this debate deals directly with the founding principles, rather than the evolution of American government.
The first question that must be asked is why the founders would be opposed to a national religion (or Christian nation) if that is what they had before. For instance, one battle cry of the revolution was, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” It was not, give me religion or give me death, so it was clear to see that the people in America were not revolting because they felt their freedom of religion was in danger. It was an important part of their history though. As a matter of fact, the fear of religious persecution was not far removed from their memories. The men that had come to America had witnessed firsthand the results of a corrupt national church. They had come from the Anglican Church, which was created solely because Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife. Many came to the colonies of America because the corrupt church was challenging their beliefs and not allowing them to worship as they saw fit. These men and woman realized that having a national religion did not give more rights or promote religion, but simply corrupted it. The founders believed that religion should be left up to the people to carry out how they see fit, without interference from any type of government.
Those who claim that America was a Christian nation often point to the phrase in the “Declaration of Independence” where Jefferson invokes the name of the “Creator.” Even though this seems like a valid point, the truth is that Jefferson and many of the other Founding Fathers were not Christians, but rather Deists. This worldview states that a higher power created the universe and all those in it, but then left it alone and does not care or pay attention to his creation. Jefferson may have been referring to god, but it was certainly not the Christian God of the Bible. Like many of the prominent statesmen of that day, Jefferson knew who he was addressing. In the colonies, the majority of people would be considered Christians. Whether or not Jefferson or the other founders believed in the Christian God, they knew they had to secure the support of the people. People, would certainly...
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