Is the United States a Christian nation?

We often hear people referring to the United States as a “Christian nation”, something that actually pleases many Christians and persuades them to vote for politicians who tickle their ears with promises to bring law in line with a distorted biblical moral code. But a quick look at history shows us that many of our earliest lawmakers didn’t agree with that sentiment.

From the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, which passed the 5th Congress without a problem:

Article II
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion – as it in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion and tranquility of Musselmen, – and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by both parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

From Wikipedia:

Official records show that after President John Adams sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification in May 1797, the entire treaty was read aloud on the Senate floor, including the famous words in Article 11, and copies were printed for every Senator. A committee considered the treaty and recommended ratification, and the treaty was ratified by a unanimous vote of all 23 Senators. It was the 339th time a recorded vote was taken in the Senate and only the third time a unanimous result was obtained. The treaty was reprinted in full in three newspapers, two in Philadelphia and one in New York City. There is no record of any public outcry or complaint in subsequent editions of the papers.

The Reverend Billy Graham even said that our country is not a Christian nation during a televised interview with David Frost on May 30, 1997.

David Frost: You said, we are a society poised on the brink of self destruction.
Billy Graham: That’s right. I believe that. When one knows the little bit of the inside as you would of the chemical weapons and other weapons. But it is the moral thing I was thinking about. The fact that we are going down morally so fast until there’s no longer among our young people an understanding of right and wrong. You can see it in their faces, their searching for something. And I think that many of our political leaders are the same way. They want something but they haven’t found it yet.
David Frost: Say is this still a Christian Country?
Billy Graham: No! We’re not a Christian Country. We’ve never been a Christian Country. We’re a secular Country, by our constitution. In which Christians live and which many Christians have a voice. But we’re not a Christian Country.


Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

3 thoughts on “Is the United States a Christian nation?”

  1. Brian,

    You are absolutely right! And trumping any treaty or evangelist’s opinion is the Constitution. The Founding Fathers went out of their way NOT to make this a Christian nation, Jewish nation, or any specific religion or denomination. That doesn’t mean we are not a religious people–America is one of the most religious nations in the world precisely because we value and protect religious liberty for all citizens.

    The First Amendment’s intent was to secure religious freedom, and to do that the Yard Dog of Government had to be put on a double chain with not one, but two prohibitions:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” (intended to limit government and religious leaders who wanted their views to be the law of the land for everybody),
    “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” (which guarantees freedom of religious expression to every citizen).

    The “wall of separation” between church and state is being assailed from all sides. Some, like Huckabee, seem to want to tear it down completely. Others, like some outspoken atheists and popular authors, seem to want to make it so tall and thick that there can be no mention of god or religion outside the confines of one’s own home or house of worship—-both groups are wrong.

    Religious pluralism–rather than promoting one religion over another–is what America is all about. But that does not mean that religion is banned from public discourse and confined to the private quarters, out of sight from everyone else. While government should not promote or endorse religion, it also should not bar citizens from freely expressing their religious views…even in public.


  2. @ Michael: You’re welcome!

    @ jimthomp87: I agree with you completely. I know that I’ve been very resistant to religious expression in places of government, but I think that there is a way that it can be handled so that the majority on both sides are happy. There will always be a few who aren’t, unfortunately.

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