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A Christian Nation

Essay by review  •  November 3, 2010  •  Essay  •  852 Words (4 Pages)  •  917 Views

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There are many different opinions regarding the idea that the United States is a Christian nation. After reading the Church book, however, I believe it is obvious that our country was not in fact founded on Christianity. Even though many religious right groups insist our laws should enforce the doctrines of Protestant Christianity. The documents written by our founding fathers say otherwise. The U.S. Constitution has no mention of Christianity or Jesus Christ, and is evidence within itself that our country was not founded as a Christian nation.

The men who founded the legislature of our country had seen first hand the difficulties that church and state partnerships could create in Europe. The consequences of this partnership are the main reason a secular government was created in the United States. During the colonial period, alliances between religion and government produced oppression and tyranny on our own shores. Many colonies, for example, had laws limiting public office positions to Trinitarian Protestants. While some colonies had officially established churches and taxed all citizens to support them. Dissenters faced many obstacles of persecution.

Many people began looking for an end to religious testing. They argued that true faith did not need or want the support of the government. These protestors were not anti-religious. In fact they believed that by allowing people their right to freedom from religion, they would eventually find themselves true Christians.

Perhaps the most profound writing on the subject of church and state separation was The Landholder, No. 7, written by Oliver Ellsworth, who is also awarded for the creating the term "United States". In this document Ellsworth plainly states the meaning and affects of the omission of religious tests for office to the general public.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence he spoke of "unalienable rights endowed by our Creator." He used generic language that all sects would be able to respond to. Therefore, respect for religious pluralism gradually became more acceptable.

Some founders, such as Patrick Henry argued in favor of tax support for Christian churches. But, that battle was lost when Jefferson and Madison helped pass the Virginia Statue for Religious Liberty in 1786 allowing religious freedom to all. This concept was carried over into the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. If a Christian nation had been the goal of the founders, our nation's documents wouldn't ensure religious freedom for everyone.

Early presidential leaders understood that separation of church and state would be good for all faiths. Thomas Jefferson rejoiced about the religious freedom law, noting that it would ensure religious freedom for "the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, the infidel of every denomination." Even in the Treaty with Tripoli the United States stated that "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."

Today, many Americans say

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