Sunday, July 5, 2015

Was American Founded as A Christian Nation?

If we are talking about 13 colonies belonging to the British Empire, whose king presided over an imperial church, then yes, British citizens residing in those colonies lived under Christian rule.
If, by the question, one is asking whether the Founding Fathers relied on Protestant Christian principles in drafting the essential documents and in organizing the new governments, then the answer is a resounding "no."
If one refines the question to ask whether the Founding Fathers were motivated to act as they did based on their Christian faith, the answer becomes a little murkier, but the response is still "no."
If, finally, the meaning of the question is whether Christian impulses and rhetoric existed during the founding period and impacted the "great debate" about revolution and republican governance, then the answer is "yes" (although the question would then lose its distinctiveness at this level of abstraction)
Demographically speaking, America certainly resembled a "nation of Christians" at the time of its founding and has ever since. But it's a rather different proposition to claim that the founders established the new American government as a "Christian nation." Clearly, they did not.
Here's a better question: Is America a Christian nation now? On this question there is a lot more evidence to sustain a "no" answer.
A culture warrior as well as priest and public intellectual, Neuhaus demonstrated with more clarity than any "village atheist" that the idea of Christian America was a fiction in search of believers.

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