There has been much written, on both sides of the issue recently, about whether or not America was founded as a Christian nation. It is an issue that elicits passion, anger, frustration, and boisterous debate whenever it is brought up in conversation. This article will be a presentation of the evidence that would lead one to believe that a belief in God played a huge part in the formation of our country. All of the founding fathers may not have been Christians, but the record is unarguably clear, they definitely believed that faith in God was foundational to establishing and maintaining the new government. For a related article that I wrote last month see: Can America Rightly Be Called A Christian Nation?
Key Quotes from people influential to our nation’s birth
In 1620, the Pilgrims, upon arriving in America, formed a compact called the Mayflower Compact that begins with these words: “In the name of God, Amen…Having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian Faith…a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the Northern parts of Virginia” (HWJV, p. 224).
James Madison reveals his viewpoint, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, but upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God” (WIJHNBB, p. 71).
In 1778, George Washington wrote a letter to a fellow patriot in which he noted how he had seen God’s hand at work, “The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations” (WIAWACNA, p.10).
Patrick Henry, a patriot of the Revolutionary period, said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!” (WIJHNBB, p. 67). How do those who deny that our nation had a Godly beginning ignore statements like this?
At the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Samuel Adams said, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven, and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come” (WIJHNBB, p. 67).
Even Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, the two men most difficult to pin down as to their beliefs, spoke positively of God: Ben Franklin said to George Washington, at the Constitutional Convention, “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God Governs in the affairs of men” (Barton, p. 109 [emphasis his]).
Thomas Jefferson: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever…” (http://americanvision.org/
The First Amendment
Early on, America was largely populated by people fleeing from England. England had a state religion, which was actually a melding of the government and the church, which had become so powerful that it was oppressive to the citizenry. The people who had come from England to America did not want a similar situation to arise in the new land. They drew up documents specifying certain guidelines for the new country.
The First Amendment, which is part of our Constitution, is known as the establishment clause. It was written in order that no government institution would meddle in the faith practices of the people. Here is the part that pertains to this article: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” (http://www.archives.gov/
The first phrase of the Amendment prevents the government from forcing people to observe certain, or any, religious beliefs or practices. Atheists often say that this part of the First Amendment means that all vestiges of faith, or any kind of spirituality, must be banished from anything remotely associated with the public life of our country.
However, these non-believers conveniently ignore the second phrase of the Amendment that reads, “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Atheists seem to believe that only they have the right to express their beliefs (just read some of their comments on internet blogs). These godless people attempt to use the Constitution, especially the first phrase of the First Amendment, as a muzzle to silence the voices of Christians and others who believe we are responsible to Holy God. It is vital, to the future of our nation, to the future of our children, and to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that believers do not buy into this type of thinking. Christians have the most important message in the universe; and that message must be shared with a lost and hurting world. We cannot allow those who oppose that message to deceive us into thinking it is against the law to share that wonderful good news.
The First Amendment of the Constitution does two things and two things only:
- it prevents the government from forcing us to belong to a state church, and
- it prevents the government from interfering with the lawful expression of our beliefs.
Bluntly, the Amendment limits the power of the government, nothing more. These are facts, no matter how loud the atheistic bellowing to the contrary.
Some other facts to ponder
Contrary to the opinion of those who would have us believe America was founded on secular humanistic values, the percentage of professing Christians in America in 1776 was around 99.8% (WIJHNBB p. 70). In addition, the founding fathers cited the Bible in their speeches more than any other book (WIJHNBB p. 70). God, and His Word, played a huge role in the founding father’s worldview and their vision for our nation’s future.
To varying degrees, the founding fathers truly trusted God with their destinies. There were no ulterior motives for the founding fathers to cause them to pretend to believe in God. Contrary to today, where many people fake allegiance to Christ in order to gain votes from Christian groups or to attempt to gain monetarily from them, no large organized Christian bodies existed during the birth of our nation for anyone to court. There would have been no reason to include all the references to the Bible, Jesus, Christianity, or God if they were not sincere.
Whether or not America was founded as a Christian nation will continue to be debated. However, it can become a Christian nation. There are no laws preventing the spread of the Gospel, no matter what atheists claim. We serve a mighty God; we must live as if we believe Jesus’ words when He said, “…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18 ESV). When Christians get serious about serving God, spreading the Gospel and living it out in their lives, God’s power will work mightily in the hearts, minds, and lives of the people of our nation.
“…those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord”
(WIJHNBB, p. 76).
Interested in more articles about the United States of America and Christianity? Take a look at these:
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV)
Kennedy, D. James, and Jerry Newcombe. What if Jesus had never been born (WIJHNBB). Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1994. Print.
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