Was the United States of American Founded As A Christian Nation? A Look at the Facts

by Robert Driskell on November 12, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

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/6379/six-myths-of-american-history/#.UFUQn65o_KQ).  We would be wise to heed the words of Mr. Jefferson.

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

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/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html)

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.

Conclusion

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:

Sources

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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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert November 12, 2012 at 7:26 am

Great article. We need to pray for our leaders and our nation.

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Patti November 12, 2012 at 7:28 am

That comment was posted by Patti Driskell not Robert.

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Robert November 12, 2012 at 8:21 am

Thank you for clearing that up, dear. It’s pretty pitiful when it looks like I have to comment on my own article…ha…ha…LOL
Robert

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Pamela Rose Williams November 12, 2012 at 10:03 am

You two are so cute! This is really a good article. I am thankful for this little American History lesson. Truly, thank you Robert for reminding us about the true intent of our founding fathers. I pray that more Americans would do their homework such as you have done.

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Jack Wellman November 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Loved the first comment person…funny, I had a feeling it wouldn’t be you liking your own article! LOL But I DO love this. SO true Robert. It is indisputable and evidently clear that our roots are Christian and there is little room for debate on this. I am so thankful to God for you for you write with such clarity and intelligence that it makes it easy for slow people like me to easily discern the truth. Too bad they leave this out of the college and public school history books.

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Robert Driskell November 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Jack,
Thank you for your kind words. I’m sure glad my wife straightened that little comment thing out. I was getting ready to do a lot of explaining…ha…ha.
It is quite sad that it seems no matter how many times this message is proclaimed, no matter how many different places, there are too many people who just will not accept it. I think this verse may have something to do with it, “…while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (II Timothy 3:13 ESV). God bless you, brother.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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William November 15, 2012 at 6:46 am

I am not an American but I have always thought that The USA
is a Christian Nation.

The US Dollars notes have it written very clearly
” IN GOD WE TRUST ”

It always gave us Christian outside of the USA a feeling that
God created this Great Nation for his purpose.

One of the purpose is in fighting evil forces in the world and we are very grateful to God for the USA.

So, who do the Atheists think, is that “GOD” printed in the USA Dollars note ?

For us outside the USA it is no other greater than Jesus Christ that the printed note is DECLARING.

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Robert November 15, 2012 at 6:58 am

William,
Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree with your sentiment that God created America with a special purpose in mind. I’m not sure we’ve fulfilled that purpose, but it seems like we are drifting away from any kind of allegiance to Him. Atheist say that anyone who believes in God is simply deluded and believing in a superstition or a fairy tale. However, the Bible says that they know that there truly is a God and that they are without excuse for not serving Him (Romans 1). I pray that America, and the entire world, will realize the truth of God’s Word and begin to live for Him.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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William November 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Robert,
I pray to God to heals America and firmly believe that he
would not allow what he had created for his purpose, to be
destroyed by those who are ungodly.

I am very grateful to God for people like you who have stood up for the truth. God Bless you Abundantly.

Several articles which I have read concerning the decline of
Christian values in the USA is of great concern.

By God Grace, the US is the world #1 Power economically, militarily, politically and even culturally.

The American culture is very influential worldwide which is very evidence in developing countries.

What would the world be like if The USA have become an
Atheist Peoples’ Nation?

May God Bless America Abundantly.

Yours In Christ
William

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Shedrick November 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

I believe that the original settlers here were indeed christians. The Puritans were engaged in a pretty lengthy fight as the Protestants and the Catholics fought in Europe during that time. I also believe men such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did be live in God but they had a hard time believing in Christ. I only want to bring that up because believing in God but not Christ is oxymoronic. I know from studying Thomas Paine he was not too fond of the idea of the holy spirit. I also learned that George Washington did not partake in the holy communion as it says he would leave the church every time communion was taken. But I digress from the point at hand. This country was definitely founded on christian values, just the men who get credit for them is debatable. Awesome article and I think God for true knowledge and wisdom so we can continue to bring his kingdom down here on earth.

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Robert November 29, 2012 at 11:22 am

Hey Ryan,
The Bible tells us that Jesus is God, that’s why denying Him is to deny God. So, let me ask you (as your comments reveal to me that you do not think highly of Christianity): What do you believe about God and why? You don’t appear to believe the Bible, so your beliefs come from elsewhere.
As to your other question: I am not arguing for our founding fathers being evangelical. I am saying that they founded this nation on biblical principles because they believed we owe our existence to God.
As to the last statement of you comment, Jesus said that the gates of Hell would not overcome His church. Our nation does allow for religious freedom, however, God has set standards that are not legislated by any nation. Our choice lies in whom we will honor, serve, glorify, and worship. And our eternal destiny depends on our choice.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Ryan November 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm

If my comments have communicated that I do not think highly of your faith, then I apologize, as this is not my goal. I always appreciate when people are bold enough to talk about their beliefs and be willing to openly talk about the issues that matter, hence the reason I am spending time here (on this blog).

I believe it is highly probable that there is an intelligent creator to the universe. But, in the absence of %100 proof, I cannot claim to know. If there is, then god is amazingly complex. Much more than we give [him] credit for (or can understand).

“The Bible tells us that Jesus is God, that’s why denying Him is to deny God.”
*I agree that it would be contradictory for a bible believing christian.

I’m simply asking why it is so important that christians feel the need to establish that our founders used ‘biblical principles’ or that many of them believed in god. What does christianity stand to gain from this? Is it part of a movement to enact more biblical law?

Lastly, regardless of what human laws are written, wouldn’t the issue of laws and ordinances reflecting biblical principles go away if more people were christian? Majority rules in the US, if christians want more christians, energy might be better spent winning people with the true gospel message. Laws would just evolve (or not devolve) over time.

If the gates of hell will not overcome the church…what’s the fuss? Missionaries go to foreign countries to find non-christians. It seems that the mission field is just simply growing in america. Instead of sending the message to non-christians that they’re wrong, SHOW people what’s right.

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Robert November 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Hi Ryan,
No apology necessary. It seemed like you might be exiting our conversation, so I merely wanted to lay it all out there in case I would not get another opportunity to talk with you. Glad to see you’re back. I will answer your questions as honestly and as fully as I am able. So often it is difficult to read a person’s intent or demeanor in print (when one is face to face, body language, etc. help with understanding), that sometimes I am overcautious in my communications.

You speak of being 100% sure about God, but we take so many less important things on faith (not 100% provable). I agree totally that God is complex. In order to create the complexity we see in so much around us, the One who created it would have to be even more complex in order to create the complexity we see (okay, I used a lot of words to make a simple point, but you get the idea). And you are right about us not giving Him enough credit (that is what worship is all about). We will never be able to understand everything God does; He is a bigger God than that. But, once again, there is much about the universe that we do not understand but still accept.

To aid in my answering, I am going to copy what you have written and then answer. You wrote, “I’m simply asking why it is so important that christians feel the need to establish that our founders used ‘biblical principles’ or that many of them believed in god. What does christianity stand to gain from this? Is it part of a movement to enact more biblical law?”
Me: Ryan, the reason any true Christian (that is, one who seeks to obey God) is concerned with these things is that we actually believe the Bible is true; we believe that man has sinned against God and needs a Savior, we believe that Savior is Jesus Christ, and we sincerely do not want anyone to be separated from Him, in this life or the next. I have no other motivation. I do not gain points when someone converts to Christianity. We do it because we can love others with the love God instills in us.

You wrote, “Lastly, regardless of what human laws are written, wouldn’t the issue of laws and ordinances reflecting biblical principles go away if more people were christian? Majority rules in the US, if christians want more christians, energy might be better spent winning people with the true gospel message. Laws would just evolve (or not devolve) over time.”
Me: The Christian’s entire existence is to be lived for God’s glory. This means that I should do all I can to share His message with the world. I should live like He wants me to live, I should share His message with others, I should love and help others, and I should stand up for what He says is good and right. In other words, Ryan, I should live the way He wants me to, but I should also stand against those things He stands against. If I remained silent, my silence would actually enable the further corruption of our world. It has been said that, for evil to triumph, all it takes is for good men to do nothing. God does not want us to do nothing.

Lastly, the reason a true Christian does anything is because God loves us, we realize our tragic condition without Him, and we are so grateful to Him for saving us. (This could possibly be the longest comment I’ve ever written, but thanks for reading anyway)

Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Ryan November 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Lol, wow Robert. You can thank me later for helping you write a new article!

I agree, we do take things on faith. But choosing what god or religion to worship is a big deal. Even atheist families have inner conflict on which traditions to carry out. It’s because one is choosing the trajectory of their life. They only have one shot. So for most, probable is not good enough.

I can respect your answer on christian fervency in political matters.

In my opinion, I think that the christian message in the political arena would be better served if they started their own party and did not compromise on how they think the country should go…instead of joining another party that mostly agrees.

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Robert November 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Ryan,
I am giving you credit for research partner in my next article…ha…ha.

Yes, the destiny of one’s soul is a big deal and should be taken seriously, you are absolutely correct. Jesus even said that one should count the cost (Luke 14:25-33) because following Him is a total commitment and should not be entered into lightly. Jesus never said to just follow Him in blind faith, He stood in front of them, performed miracles (that they recorded in the Bible), died on the cross, and rose again, in order that they (and we) would believe.

It is to be expected that atheist families will have disagreements about a lot of things, since they are rebelling against the One who sets the standards for living. They are attempting to live life detached from Him who gives it. I gave your question about Christians not agreeing on everything and I believe that the answer lies in the fact that, even though forgiven, the believer is not perfect. The Bible also tells us that, even as followers of Jesus, we do not know everything, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:12-13 ESV). The passage also ends by stressing the importance of love over everything else.

I really cannot engage very knowledgably about political matters; I will leave that to someone else. However, Jesus does tell us to be “salt and light” in our culture.

You know, Ryan, if you continue to search for the truth about God, you will find it…and Him. I pray that that is your motivation, because I know He loves you. Read these verses as if you had never heard them before:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17 ESV).

God bless you, Ryan.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Kevin May 26, 2013 at 1:02 am

Was “The New World” (America) founded as a Christian Nation… the answer is a simple yet bold YES, the settlers settled the land found natives (indians) saw they didn’t believe in God, they decided to get religious (like the Government they were fleeing) and pressure/force religion on these new found people.
I’m a Christian but I felt that needed to be stated

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Robert May 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Kevin,
I’m sure there were some insensitive Christians at that time just as there are now, but I’m also sure there were well-meaning believers who simply wanted to share the good news of Jesus Christ with as many as they could. God bless you.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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