America not founded on Christianity


There are many who will claim that America was founded as a Christian nation or was founded on Christian values. This is demonstrably false.

The founding fathers — while some may have been raised Christian — were mostly deists. Some of them did not have a very high view of organized religion in general — and Christianity specifically.

Most of them rejected the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus and other core tenets of Christianity, making them non-Christians by definition.

The interesting thing about the founding fathers is that, despite how many conservatives revere them, it would be impossible for them to be elected today given how strongly they supported the separation of church and state, even more so than the most militant atheists today.

George Washington was officially an Anglican, yet his actions reflect someone who was more of a deist since he wasn’t an active participant in many church rituals — most notably communion.

John Adams, a unitarian, rejected the trinity and the divinity of Christ, as he found these concepts to be incomprehensible. When a devout Christian by the name of Major Greene tried to claim that some theology was just too complex for humans to understand,  Adams replied, “Thus mystery is made a convenient cover for absurdity.”

Thomas Jefferson once cut out all the miracles and supernatural parts of the Bible, leaving behind only the teachings of Jesus. He said, “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” He also famously coined the phrase “wall of separation” when talking about the separation of church and state.

James Madison also was an Anglican, yet like Washington, his behavior seemed more in line with a deist.  He opposed government-paid chaplains in Congress and in the military as well as government-issued prayer proclamations. As President, he vetoed legislation granting federal land to a church and a plan to have a church in Washington care for the poor through a largely symbolic charter, citing the First Amendment both times.

Thomas Paine once called the god of the old testament wicked, and claimed the entire Bible was “the pretended word of God.” He wrote a book called the “Age of Reason” in which he attacked organized religion in general and Christianity in particular as being irrational.

Benjamin Franklin also was religious, but he said this about religion in general: “When a religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself. When it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it, so that it’s professors are obligated to call for the help of civil authority, then it’s a sign, I apprehend, of being a bad one.”

He is basically saying that if someone felt they needed to have the government support their religion (by, say, having public displays of their religious materials on federal property) then their religion must not have been that great in the first place.

This nation was not founded by people who believed in the Bible as being literally true or in the Christian religion, but in people who thought that everyone should be completely free to have whatever religion they chose. Not only that, but some of the founding fathers were not fans of most forms of organized religion, and especially Christianity, as they viewed them as establishments that were perpetuating myths rather than reason.

It’s interesting listening to the complaints of the religious right as they attempt to claim on one hand that they’re being persecuted, yet on the other, when asked why it should be okay for the government to support their particular religion over others (say by having the ten commandments on a courthouse wall) they then claim they are the majority and therefore it’s okay.

Which is it? Are you the persecuted minority or the majority that deserves preferential treatment? The founding fathers whom wrote that constitution that you love so much, would say that you don’t deserve preferential treatment. Most of them supported separation of church and state with a tenacity that even the ACLU wouldn’t dare dream of.

The next time someone tries to make a claim that America was founded as a Christian nation or on Christian values, tell them to check out the treaty of Tripoli which John Adams signed, which states, “America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”  It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

Michael Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].