Why do so many Christians insist that the US is a “Christian nation founded on Christian values”?
They speak of “taking back America” or “returning us to our Christian roots.”
Why do they want so badly to say that the founding fathers were Christians, and that the first amendment says nothing about separation on church and state?
What it basically comes down to is using this “revisionist history” as a means to push a religious agenda within politics. I’ve head the same tired phrases repeated over and over from the religious right, they are preached such from their church leaders and the politicians they support, as well as other various right wind talking heads.
The problem is, it’s all a bunch of bullshit, the founding fathers were in no way Christians, the founding fathers did not acknowledge much of the Christian “message”, and in some cases out right denied it.
But, I can sit here and say this all I want, to get to the point of the matter, lets look at the actual words of our founding fathers.
The Founders of the American Revolution:
Thomas Jefferson -
Being uncomfortable with any reference to miracles in the New Testament, he took two copies of it, cut and pasted them together, excising all references to miracles, from turning water to wine, to the resurrection.
There has certainly never been a shortage of boldness in the history of biblical scholarship during the past two centuries, but for sheer audacity Thomas Jefferson’s two redactions of the Gospels stand out even in that company. It is still a bit overwhelming to contemplate the sangfroid exhibited by the third president of the United States as, razor in hand, he sat editing the Gospels during February 1804, on (as he himself says) “2. or 3. nights only at Washington, after getting thro’ the evening task of reading the letters and papers of the day.” He was apparently quite sure that he could tell what was genuine and what was not in the transmitted text of the New Testament…(Thomas Jefferson. The Jefferson Bible; Jefferson and his Contemporaries, an afterward by Jaroslav Pelikan, Boston: Beacon Press, 1989, p. 149) The Jefferson Bible
That’s right, Thomas Jefferson denied the miracles and resurrection of Christ, this would make him fall squarely within the area of “not christian”.
Christians will argue that separation of church and state was not in the mind of our founding fathers, that it was a concept invented by the supreme court in the 50’s and 60’s.
The phrase itself appears in a letter from President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, on Jan 1, 1802.
The Baptist Association had written to President Jefferson regarding a “rumor that a particular denomination was soon to be recognized as the national denomination.”
Jefferson responded to calm their fears by assuring them that the federal government would not establish any single denomination of Christianity as the National denomination. He wrote: “The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between Church and State.”
Thomas Paine -
I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
Regarding the New Testament:
I hold [it] to be fabulous and have shown [it] to be false…
On an afterlife:
I do not believe because a man and a woman make a child that it imposes on the Creator the unavoidable obligation of keeping the being so made in eternal existance hereafter. It is in His power to do so, or not to do so, and it is not in my power to decide which He will do.
Thomas Paine was a Deist, much Life Jefferson, in that he believed in a creator, he rejected the divinity of Christ.
John Adams -
Adams, the second U.S. President rejected the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and became a Unitarian. It was during Adams’ presidency that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli, which states in Article XI that:
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion…
This treaty with the Islamic state of Tripoli had been written and concluded by Joel Barlow during Washington’s Administration. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty on June 7, 1797; President Adams signed it on June 10, 1797 and it was first published in the Session Laws of the Fifth Congress, first session in 1797. Very clearly, then, at this early stage of the American Republic, the U.S. government did not consider the United States a Christian nation.
Benjamin Franklin -
Ben Franklin, when asked about his religious beliefs by Ezra Stiles, president of Yale, stated in a letter to him;
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble….
This would place Francklin’s beliefs firmly withing deism as well.
Aside from these quotes from the founding fathers, there is also the US constitution, in particular;
The U.S. Constitution, Article VI, paragraph 3:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
All of these statements point to the fact that the founders of this country intended for government and religion to remain separate from one another, that the state had no role in religion, and that religion had no role in state affairs.
What Christians are saying now (and have been saying) is revisionist, and they are repeating what they have been told in church, again, this is why proper education is so important.
These are the same people that try to deny proper science because it dis-agrees with their religious dogma, and they have been trying to deny history as well.
Many of the founding fathers were deists, free thinkers, and men of science, and I would venture to gamble, be horrified at the current political environment in the united states.