America is not a Christian nation
An article here tries to make the case that both the Left and the Right are wrong about the Founding Fathers establishing (or not) a Christian nation. The author makes a good case for why religious conservatives are wrong, but he doesn’t seem to say anything constructive about why the Left is mistaken. I must assume he feels perhaps secularists like myself may not fully appreciate the contribution Christians have made in forming this country. I thought, therefore, I might talk a little bit about my thoughts on the subject.
We cherish our memories. Without them, our experiences would simply fade, and we would lose the ability to learn. This is why history is such an important subject; the progress of our society has only been possible because of the shared and recorded experience of millions of human beings who are now deceased. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and we directly benefit from their knowledge so long as we take the time to examine the past.
History is a neglected subject, and easily corruptible; after all, how many are willing to lie to further their agendas and politics? Take for instance the ‘religious right’ and their revisionist perception of the Founding Fathers, who they believe were devout Christians. They uphold the factually incorrect idea that the United States of America was founded to be a Christian nation, or even that the founders had intended to make Christianity the official religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Declaration of Independence was a statement against the tyranny of kings, princes, and clergymen. This is precisely why the separation of Church and State is such a fundamental principle; it is designed to prevent the usurpation of freedom by men of the cloth.
I won’t deny Christianity has had a supreme influence on the West; it does not mean, however, our morality is inherited from the Bible. If anything, our modern society was shaped and influenced by moral philosophers coming out of the Enlightenment. It just so happened that many tried to apply their models to that of Christianity, despite the fact much of it is contradictory. They were pious men, but although they may have been inspired by God, it does not mean their morality reflected the message and tone of the Bible. If anything, they did what most Christians do these days; they ignore anything that conflicts with their morality, or declare the stories are meant to be taken allegorically. It’s one or the others, guys; not both.
If the US was really a Christian nation, then all other religions would be outlawed, or at the very least, severely limited. Yes, the majority of Americans are Christians, but so what? It does not mean the entire country should be defined by what a large portion of the population believes. To do so misses the whole point and strength of the American model of government; that people should be free to seek out their own happiness as they themselves see fit. If that involves rejecting God, then anyone should be able to do so without fear or retribution, discrimination, or lost opportunity. Sadly, the reality is that Muslims, gays, and atheists are pariahs in the eyes of many Christians. Their livelihood is largely dependant on the fairness and objectivity of a secular society. This is why history is so important. We must learn the lessons of the past; that no one mode of thought or religion can be enforced on others, and no religion (or even lack of religion) should be forcefully imposed onto others. America is not a Christian nation, and you can thank some pretty smart guys for that one.