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Is America a Christian Nation?
Catholic Educator's Resource ^ | 2001 | Carl Pearlston

Posted on 08/16/2004 3:15:24 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe

The use of Christian religious references in the recent Presidential Inauguration prayers has served to reopen the debate over religion in America's public life. Professor Alan Dershowitz led off with an article strongly objecting that America wasn't a Christian nation; Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby replied that it certainly was. Who is right? Is America a Christian nation? The answer is both yes and no, depending on what one means by the phrase.

When President Harry Truman wrote to Pope Pius XII in 1947 that "This is a Christian nation.", he certainly did not mean that the United States has an official or legally-preferred religion or church. Nor did he mean to slight adherents of non-Christian religions. But he certainly did mean to recognize that this nation, its institutions and laws, was founded on Biblical principles basic to Christianity and to Judaism from which it flowed. As he told an Attorney General's Conference in 1950, "The fundamental basis of this nation's laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and Saint Matthew, from Isaiah and Saint Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State."

Woodrow Wilson, in his election campaign for President, made the same point: "A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.... America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the tenets of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture."

The crucial role of Christianity in this nation's formation is not without dispute, although as Revolutionary leader Patrick Henry said: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship."

John Ashcroft was roundly criticized for his "No King but Jesus" speech at Bob Jones University, but he was only reminding us of our colonial and Revolutionary War heritage. In a 1774 report to King George, the Governor of Boston noted: "If you ask an American, who is his master? He will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ." The pre-war Colonial Committees of Correspondence soon made this the American motto: "No King but King Jesus." And this sentiment was carried over into the 1783 peace treaty with Great Britain ending that war, which begins "In the name of the most Holy and Undivided Trinity... ."

Samuel Adams, who has been called 'The Father of the American Revolution' wrote The Rights of the Colonists in 1772, which stated: "The rights of the colonists as Christians...may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institution of the Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament."

It is frequently asserted by those seeking to minimize Christianity's central role in our nation's founding and history, that the founders themselves were not practicing Christians, but rather were Deists or Agnostics. In a 1962

speech to Congress, Senator Robert Byrd noted that of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 29 were Anglicans, 16-18 were Calvinists, and among the rest were 2 Methodists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 lapsed Quaker-sometimes Anglican, and only 1 open Deist — Benjamin Franklin who attended all Christian worships and called for public prayer.

Samuel Chase was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a Justice of the US Supreme Court, and, as Chief Justice of the State of Maryland, wrote in 1799 ( Runkel v Winemiller): "By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion... ." (Maryland was one of nine States having established churches supported by taxpayers at the time of the adoption of the Constitution; these churches were gradually disestablished, the last in 1833. The Maryland constitution, typical of many of the States, restricted public office to Christians until, in 1851, it was changed to allow Jews who believed in a future state of rewards and punishments to also serve).

Christianity pervaded the laws and the legal system of the States and the federal government. For example, Judge Nathaniel Freeman in 1802 charged Massachusetts Grand Juries as follows: "The laws of the Christian system, as embraced by the Bible, must be respected as of high authority in all our courts... . [Our government] originating in the voluntary compact of a people who in that very instrument profess the Christian religion, it may be considered, not as republic Rome was, a Pagan, but a Christian republic." In 1811 ( People v Ruggles), New York Chief Justice James Kent held: "'...whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government... .' We are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity... . Christianity in its enlarged sense, as a religion revealed and taught in the Bible, is part and parcel of the law of the land... ." In 1824, the Pennsylvania Supreme court held ( Updegraph v The Commonwealth): Christianity, general Christianity, is and always has been a part of the common law...not Christianity founded on any particular religious tenets; not Christianity with an established church, but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men... ."

Our sixth President, John Quincy Adams said "From the day of the Declaration...they [the American people] were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of The Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledge as the rules of their conduct"

John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court said: "Providence has given to our people the choice of their ruler, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." This was said despite the explicit provision in the federal Constitution forbidding any religious test for federal public office.

Justice Joseph Story, who was appointed to the US Supreme Court by President Madison, said in an 1829 speech at Harvard: "There never has been a period of history, in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundation." Story wrote several respected treatises or Commentaries on Constitutional Law, in which are found the following: "Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the [First] Amendment...the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship. Any attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation."

"The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national government".

Justice Story wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court in 1844 ( Vidal v Girard's Executors): "It is also said, and truly that the Christian religion is a part of the common law... ."

In 1854, The United States House of Congress passed a resolution: "The great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

During the Civil War, The Senate passed a resolution in 1863: "...devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God...encouraged ...to seek Him for succor according to His appointed way, through Jesus Christ, the Senate ...does hereby request the President ...to set aside a day for national prayer and humiliation." President Lincoln promptly issued a Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day, stating "...in compliance with the request and fully concurring in the view of the Senate... ."

The US Supreme Court forbade polygamy in 1890 (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints v United States): "It is contrary to the spirit of Christianity and the civilization which Christianity has produced in the Western world." Two years later, the Court, by Justice Brewer, approvingly cited many of the earlier cases cited above, discussed the history and prominent role of religion in laws, business, customs, and society, and held (Church of the Holy Trinity v United States): "...this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation... . These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian Nation... .we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth."

Congress in essence summarized all this preceding history when it passed a Joint Resolution designating 1983 as The Year of the Bible, stating: "Whereas the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people; ...deeply held religious convictions springing from the Holy scriptures led to the early settlement of our Nation; ...Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States....designate 1983 as a national 'Year of the Bible in recognition of both the formative influence the Bible has been for our Nation, and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures". In 1988, a Joint Resolution of Congress declared that the first Thursday in May of each year is to be a National Day of Prayer.

The historical record from the foregoing quotes from past Presidents, leaders, Congressmen, Jurists and court decisions, seems firmly on the side of those claiming that America was born and maintained as a Christian nation whose laws, morals, and customs derive from Christian (and Jewish) scriptures. The opponents of this view, however, point to the first sentence of Article 11 of the obscure Tripoli Treaty of 1797 as seeming conclusive proof that America was never a Christian nation. Before discussing that critical sentence, the treaty itself should be read in context with all of the Barbary treaties.

The Barbary States on the coast of North Africa, comprising the Moslem States of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, attacked ships in their coastal waters which would not pay tribute, and held captives for ransom. The European nations had treaties with those states, under which, in exchange for tribute, shipping was protected. After the Revolutionary War, our new nation followed the lead of those European nations and entered into similar treaties. Breach of those treaties by the Barbary nations led to the Barbary wars in 1801.

The first treaty was with Morocco in 1786, negotiated by Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin. It was written in Arabic with an English translation. The treaty language assumes that the world was divided between Christians and Moors (Moslems), e.g. "If we shall be at war with any Christian Power ... .", "... no Vessel whatever belonging either to Moorish or Christian Powers with whom the United States may be at War ... .", "...be their enemies Moors or Christians." These along with numerous references to God, e.g., "In the name of Almighty God,", "... trusting in God ...", "Grace to the only God", "...the servant of God ...", "... whom God preserve ...". are the only references to religion in this treaty of Peace and Friendship.

The next was the Treaty of Peace and Amity with Algiers in 1795,written in Turkish. The only reference to religion was in Article 17 which gave the Consul of the United States "... Liberty to Exercise his Religion in his own House [and] all Slaves of the Same Religion shall not be impeded in going to Said Consul's house at hours of prayer... ." The Consul's house was to function in lieu of a Christian church.

The Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation with Tunis in 1797 was in Turkish with a French translation. It begins "God is infinite.", and refers to the Ottoman Emperor "whose realm may God prosper", and to the President of the United States "... the most distinguished among those who profess the religion of the Messiah, ...." Other than a reference to "the Christian year", there is no further mention of religion.

The Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli was signed in 1796 in Arabic, and was later translated into English by Joel Barlow, United States Consul General at Algiers. Except for the typical phrases "Praise be to God" and "whom God Exalt", there is no reference to religion other than the aforesaid remarkable Article 11, which reads,

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

The treaty, with this language, was submitted to the Senate by President Adams, and was ratified. Thus, opponents of the 'Christian nation' concept point to this seemingly official repudiation of the very idea. Yet the language is less a repudiation of the role of Christianity in the nation's heritage than a reminder that there was no national established church in the United States as there was in the European states with which Tripoli had previously dealt. This provided reassurance to the Moslem Bey and his religious establishment that religion, in of itself, would not be a basis of hostility between the two nations. None of the other similar treaties with the Barbary states, before or after this treaty, including the replacement treaties signed in 1804 after the Barbary Wars, have any language remotely similar.

And there is a deeper mystery: As noted in a footnote at page 1070 of the authoritative treatise by Bevans, Treaties and other International Agreements of the United States of America, citing treaty scholar Hunter Miller.

"While the Barlow translation quoted above has been printed in all official and unofficial treaty collections since 1797, most extraordinary (and wholly unexplained) is the fact that Article 11 of the Barlow translation, with its famous phrase 'the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.' does not exist at all. There is no Article 11. The Arabic text which is between Articles 10 and 12 is in form a letter, crude and flamboyant and withal quite unimportant, from the Dey of Algiers to the Pasha of Tripoli. How that script came to be written and to be regarded, as in the Barlow translation, as Article 11 of the treaty as there written, is a mystery and seemingly must remain so. Nothing in the diplomatic correspondence of the time throws any light whatever on the point" (Emphasis added)

In sum, the phrase was no doubt an invention of Mr. Barlow, who inserted it on his own for his own, unknown, purposes. It was duly ratified without question by the United States Senate, which would no doubt be hesitant to object to any phraseology which was represented as desired by the Bey of Tripoli, with whom the United States wanted peaceful relations. It remains a mystery.

Can America still be called a Christian nation? It is certainly a more religiously pluralistic and diverse society than it was during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. There are increasing numbers of non-Christians immigrating to this country, and there has been a rapid rise in adherents to Islam among our population. There are millions of Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Shintoists, Unitarians, Hindus, Wiccans, Naturists, Agnostics, and Atheists, but Christians comprise roughly 84% of the population. Our constitutional legal system is still based on the Jewish/Christian Bible, not the Koran or other holy book. We still observe Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, as an official holiday. Easter and Christmas still have a special place in the holiday lexicon. The Ten Commandments are still on the wall behind the Supreme Court Justices when they take the bench. Our coins still display the motto "In God We Trust." The US is still firmly part of a Western Civilization fashioned by a Judeo-Christian religious ethic and heritage. Alexis de Tocqueville observed more than a century and a half ago, "There is no country in the world, where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America." That is still true today. We live, not under a Christian government, but in a nation where all are free to practice their particular religion, in accommodation with other religions, and in accordance with the basic principles of the nation, which are Christian in origin. It is in that sense that America may properly be referred to as a Christian nation.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: christianity; christiannation; churchandstate
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1 posted on 08/16/2004 3:15:24 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

This thread should be good.


2 posted on 08/16/2004 3:16:44 PM PDT by cyborg
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To: Tailgunner Joe

No, the U.S. is not a Christian nation. The goal of the U.S. Constitution is to recognize God-given rights, not to advance the goals of Christianity.


3 posted on 08/16/2004 3:22:20 PM PDT by No_Outcome_But_Victory (Reagan preferred to shoot the bear... the verdict of history will be simple: nice aim.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
I tend to agree with Robert Bork, who made the case in one of his books that the United States has never really been much of a Christian nation. We've always tended to be more "religious" than our European counterparts in a nominal sense, but it is clear from history that religion has never really served as a well-informed basis for our public morality.

If anything, we as a nation have done a marvelous job of what I call "back-filling," regardless of whether this is done from a religious standpoint or from an atheistic one. I use this term to describe the manner in which political action is taken, after which the rationale/justification is given.

4 posted on 08/16/2004 3:22:41 PM PDT by Alberta's Child ("Ego numquam pronunciare mendacium . . . sed ego sum homo indomitus")
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To: No_Outcome_But_Victory; Robert_Paulson2; Modernman; tpaine; TheBigB; Dave S; malakhi; ...
"Is America a Christian Nation?"

Inasmuch as its majority religion is Christianity, yes.

Legally and Constitutionally, no.

"The goal of the U.S. Constitution is to recognize God-given rights, not to advance the goals of Christianity."

Good summation.

5 posted on 08/16/2004 3:30:27 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: Long Cut
Good summation.

Thanks. What's a NATOPS?

6 posted on 08/16/2004 3:34:47 PM PDT by No_Outcome_But_Victory (Reagan preferred to shoot the bear... the verdict of history will be simple: nice aim.)
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To: Long Cut

Exactly, but some peopel can't seem to see the distinction, or disagree that there is a distinction.


7 posted on 08/16/2004 3:39:06 PM PDT by tdadams (If there were no problems, politicians would have to invent them... wait, they already do.)
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To: No_Outcome_But_Victory

N-Naval
A-Aviation
T-Training
O-Operating
P-Procedures
S-Standardized


8 posted on 08/16/2004 3:46:40 PM PDT by xone
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To: cyborg
Is God In Your State Constitution?
9 posted on 08/16/2004 3:49:11 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: No_Outcome_But_Victory
NATOPS...Naval Aviation Training Operating Procedures Standardized. Each Naval aircraft has its own NATOPS, which its Aircrewmen must learn, live, and know by heart. They're the operating instructions for the aircraft. They explain the systems, promulgate the safety and emergency procedures, and specify crew duties.

The Constitution, as the "how-to" manual for running the country, provides an apt metaphor.

10 posted on 08/16/2004 3:50:48 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: No_Outcome_But_Victory; Long Cut
Thanks. What's a NATOPS?

NATOPS = Naval Aviation Training Operating Procedures Standardized. These are the manuals that tell you how to operate aircraft in the US Navy. Also known as "blue sleeping pills" from their blue plastic covers and incredibly soporific content.

11 posted on 08/16/2004 3:53:10 PM PDT by Poohbah (If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
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To: Long Cut
Well said.

I would go one step further and say that a primary reason the USA remains the most religious of Western democracies is that we do separate church and state.

My former Episcopal Church would have been a likely denomination to become the established church, but absent government support, it is withering (as it should) as it turns from the Gospel message. Contrast this with the Church of England, which has long been irrelevant to most British citizens, yet persists in its threadbare splendour due to taxes levied on the populace for its support.
12 posted on 08/16/2004 3:53:51 PM PDT by good_fight
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To: Long Cut

Agreed. I have no problem with this being a christian nation. I don't object until the notion that it is or should be an exclusively christian nation. Then we have a problem.


13 posted on 08/16/2004 3:55:16 PM PDT by Melas
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Surely we've long been a religious people or nation or society, though this wasn't reflected in government policy. Things worked pretty well for two centuries with a religious populace and a more or less secular federal government, but such a compromise may unfortunately be a thing of the past. Now what we're facing is a situation in which religion may become as unimportant to many people as it is in official government policy. That's not a very good sign for the future. It makes it likely that we will be a less moral people than we were in the past, and it has probably inspired some people to want to make religion more explicitly the basis of our political system and political culture.
14 posted on 08/16/2004 3:55:51 PM PDT by x
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To: Tailgunner Joe

The USA is a country which contains many Christians but that is not the essence of this country. The essence of this country is FREEDOM. The freedom of individual choice. That essence has been eroded over time and we now have much less freedom of choice than was intended. But, that is the consequence of a lack of vigilance.


15 posted on 08/16/2004 3:56:17 PM PDT by Semper
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To: Tailgunner Joe

No, not necessarily. But the vast majority have had a judeo christian influance somewhere in their past.


16 posted on 08/16/2004 3:56:56 PM PDT by Joe Boucher (4 more years)
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To: Long Cut

Amen!


17 posted on 08/16/2004 3:57:16 PM PDT by NCPAC ((Live without Fear: Don't worry about what may happen. Concentrate on what must be done.))
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To: Tailgunner Joe

You can call America "The Domain of the Giant Asparagus God" for all I care, just keep church and state separate.


18 posted on 08/16/2004 3:57:37 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber
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To: good_fight
" yet persists in its threadbare splendour due to taxes levied on the populace for its support."

One of the best arguments against an official religion is the fact that, at some point, taxes will be used to pay for some aspect of it. Taxes, incidentally, taken from EVERYONE, not just the faithful.

19 posted on 08/16/2004 3:58:19 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: Melas

I agree with you. I also do not even want any one religion elevated above all others by government fiat. That patently violates the rights of those not following that religion.


20 posted on 08/16/2004 4:00:36 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: Poohbah; Long Cut; xone

Thanks. I was a jarhead and could never figure out all those acronyms in the Navy.


21 posted on 08/16/2004 4:01:39 PM PDT by No_Outcome_But_Victory (Reagan preferred to shoot the bear... the verdict of history will be simple: nice aim.)
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To: Poohbah
"Also known as "blue sleeping pills" from their blue plastic covers and incredibly soporific content."

Tell me about it. I've got a checkride this week.

22 posted on 08/16/2004 4:02:36 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: No_Outcome_But_Victory

Marine Aviators use them, too. They don't change the name for Marine aircraft.


23 posted on 08/16/2004 4:03:35 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: good_fight
"I would go one step further and say that a primary reason the USA remains the most religious of Western democracies is that we do separate church and state."

If a faith is coerced, even passively, by a government, it is a farce.

24 posted on 08/16/2004 4:05:20 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: NCPAC

I cannot fathom why so many people seem to want to commit political suicide by demanding that the Republican Party support some sort of State Religion.


25 posted on 08/16/2004 4:07:00 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: No_Outcome_But_Victory

>> No, the U.S. is not a Christian nation. The goal of the U.S. Constitution is to recognize God-given rights, not to advance the goals of Christianity.

You are a leftist, right? Only a leftist could have "interpreted" the constitution so poorly.



26 posted on 08/16/2004 4:08:05 PM PDT by PhilipFreneau
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To: Long Cut
I cannot fathom why so many people seem to want to commit political suicide by demanding that the Republican Party support some sort of State Religion.

I have never heard of these people. No one I know would ever conceive of such an absurd idea.

A "state religion" is what the establishment clause is all about. The founders wanted no part of a Church of the United States.

27 posted on 08/16/2004 4:11:25 PM PDT by Skooz (My Biography: Psalm 40:1-3)
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To: Long Cut
I also do not even want any one religion elevated above all others by government fiat. That patently violates the rights of those not following that religion

Note that this includes radical athiests as well. The U.S. is not a Christian Nation, but it is a nation which recognizes religious principles based upon religion and English common law.

Compulsory religion and compulsory atheism are both repugnant to the constitution.

28 posted on 08/16/2004 4:11:31 PM PDT by No_Outcome_But_Victory (Reagan preferred to shoot the bear... the verdict of history will be simple: nice aim.)
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To: PhilipFreneau
You are a leftist, right? Only a leftist could have "interpreted" the constitution so poorly.

You apparently do not read well.

The Founding Fathers were devout men, but were not interested in re-nacting the religious wars of Europe.

Furthermore, I make Jerry Falwell look like a flaming liberal.

29 posted on 08/16/2004 4:15:41 PM PDT by No_Outcome_But_Victory (Reagan preferred to shoot the bear... the verdict of history will be simple: nice aim.)
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To: Long Cut
Marine Aviators use them, too. They don't change the name for Marine aircraft.

I was a combat engineer. I blowed stuff up real good :)

30 posted on 08/16/2004 4:16:50 PM PDT by No_Outcome_But_Victory (Reagan preferred to shoot the bear... the verdict of history will be simple: nice aim.)
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To: No_Outcome_But_Victory
Compulsory religion and compulsory atheism are both repugnant to the constitution.

Both are impossible as well. A man believes what he believes. You can't force a man to believe anything against his will. At best you can force outward compliance.

31 posted on 08/16/2004 4:18:35 PM PDT by Melas
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To: PhilipFreneau
"You are a leftist, right? Only a leftist could have "interpreted" the constitution so poorly. "

The Preamble:

"We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

No mention of "promoting the goals of Christianity" there.

Article I: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free excercise thereof;..."

Seems pretty clear on the subject, actually.

32 posted on 08/16/2004 4:20:14 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: Melas
Both are impossible as well. A man believes what he believes. You can't force a man to believe anything against his will. At best you can force outward compliance.

Yes, that's right. But apparently I am a leftist for saying so.

33 posted on 08/16/2004 4:20:16 PM PDT by No_Outcome_But_Victory (Reagan preferred to shoot the bear... the verdict of history will be simple: nice aim.)
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To: No_Outcome_But_Victory
"Yes, that's right. But apparently I am a leftist for saying so."

No. You are a religious man who is secure enough in his faith that he does not need the government to "bless" it, or to force it upon others.

To the less secure, that might SEEM to be Leftist, or possibly just worthy of a slur or two. Ignore them.

34 posted on 08/16/2004 4:25:45 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: No_Outcome_But_Victory

>> You apparently do not read well. The Founding Fathers were devout men, but were not interested in re-nacting the religious wars of Europe.

You either don't read well, or you don't want to know the truth. I suspect the latter. For over 150 years American's believed this to be a Christian Nation without the slightest suspicion they were wrong. It was not until the ACLU-influenced Hugo Black court in 1947 usurped power from the states and the people that the so-called "Separation of Church and State" myth came into existence. Frankly, the ACLU can go straight to hell where it belongs, and so can all the fools that believe the ACLU's lies.


35 posted on 08/16/2004 4:26:07 PM PDT by PhilipFreneau
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To: PhilipFreneau
"For over 150 years American's believed this to be a Christian Nation without the slightest suspicion they were wrong."

Which does not, of course, mean they weren't wrong.

In addition to the Preamble and Article I I posted above, need I also point out the prohibition on religious tests for office, or the lack of any reference to "Jesus Christ" in the Constitution, despite the Founding Fathers' ample opportunity to put it there if they chose?

36 posted on 08/16/2004 4:29:52 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: PhilipFreneau
For over 150 years American's believed this to be a Christian Nation without the slightest suspicion they were wrong.

So for 150 years Americans believed it was the purpose of the United States to convert the world to Christianity? So much so that compulsory religion was established in the constitution?

Prove it, then.

37 posted on 08/16/2004 4:30:29 PM PDT by No_Outcome_But_Victory (Reagan preferred to shoot the bear... the verdict of history will be simple: nice aim.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Excellent article. Yes we are a Christian nation, always have been. Those who disagree should learn to tolerate it; our prayers, our God Bless America, our 10 commandments posted all over, and our Jesus dash board bobbleheads. Stop crying about it.


38 posted on 08/16/2004 4:32:10 PM PDT by Rightwing Conspiratr1 (Lock-n-load!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
In 1854, The United States House of Congress passed a resolution

The what?

39 posted on 08/16/2004 4:38:20 PM PDT by SedVictaCatoni
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To: Rightwing Conspiratr1

Ping to you Rightwing.


40 posted on 08/16/2004 4:49:28 PM PDT by NurdlyPeon
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To: Long Cut
You wrote:

The Preamble:

"We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

No mention of "promoting the goals of Christianity" there.

Article I: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free excercise thereof;..."

Seems pretty clear on the subject, actually.

No offense, Long Cut, but your "analysis" is weak. Jefferson's quote, 'Separation of Church...", has been distorted by leftists, even though it is clear Jefferson did not mean his quote the way the leftist courts interpreted it. In general, Jefferson declared original intent to be the only valid interpretation, as follows:

"On every question of construction [of the constitution], carry ourselves back to the time when the constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." -- Thomas Jefferson, June 12, 1823

Another point: Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, in his 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution, was clear in his belief that this was a Christian nation. The same was expressed in the opinions of all Supreme Court rulings on religious matters prior to 1900 (maybe even as late as 1946). I trust them far more than the new-fangled interpretations of godless leftists inflenced by the vile ACLU. You should, too.

41 posted on 08/16/2004 4:50:34 PM PDT by PhilipFreneau
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To: Long Cut
To the less secure, that might SEEM to be Leftist, or possibly just worthy of a slur or two. Ignore them.

I highly doubt that those of that ilk do much good for attracting others to Christianity.

Who wants to be hit with a cement bible? These types have forced my family out of lots of churches, since I don't want to walk, talk and think just like them.

42 posted on 08/16/2004 4:51:30 PM PDT by No_Outcome_But_Victory (Reagan preferred to shoot the bear... the verdict of history will be simple: nice aim.)
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To: Rightwing Conspiratr1
This discussion crops up again and again in right-wing circles. As a devout Christian, I feel that no "official" state variant of my faith could exist without watering down the truth of the Gospel. Despite the fact that many of our founding fathers were Christians and the populace at large has identified, in varying degrees, with Christianity, any Constitutional effort to declare the USA a Christian nation would harm both state and church.

Do you really want the order of worship of your church to be approved and established by an Act of Congress? Do you want Congress to approve the leadership of your denomination? I seriously doubt that the demands of the Gospel will be clearly proclaimed in any Federal Government version of the faith.

This is what happens in nations with established religions.
God forbid that it happen here in America!

Having said that, I believe the First Amendment has been abused by extremist groups such as the ACLU who seek to obliterate all traces of Christianity from our common life as a nation. To deny that Christianity played a vital role in the founding and expansion of our great nation -- and continues to this day to be the at least nominal faith of the majority -- is as patently absurd as a sermon written by a Senate sub-committee would be.
43 posted on 08/16/2004 4:54:17 PM PDT by good_fight
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To: PhilipFreneau
"Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, in his 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution, was clear in his belief that this was a Christian nation."

Ah, so the guide should be what a judge BELIEVES,instead of what the document actually SAYS (as long as we agree). I get it now...

44 posted on 08/16/2004 4:54:26 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: Everybody; Long Cut
"Is America a Christian Nation?"

Inasmuch as its majority religion is Christianity, yes.
Legally and Constitutionally, no.

"The goal of the U.S. Constitution is to recognize God-given rights, not to advance the goals of Christianity."

Good summation.
-Long Cut-

___________________________________

I always shudder a bit when I see people seriously claim that our rights are "God given".

I foresee that an insistence upon a 'Creator' that gave us our rights presupposes a scenario where 'He' could take them away.
[Assisted by his earthly disciples, of course.]

There are far too many sects & cults that firmly believe that they can enforce 'God given rights', -- as they see fit to interpret them.

45 posted on 08/16/2004 4:55:19 PM PDT by tpaine (No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another. - T. Jefferson-)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

My favorite site for topics like these:
http://www.wallbuilders.com/


46 posted on 08/16/2004 4:55:56 PM PDT by cyborg
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To: Long Cut

>> Which does not, of course, mean they weren't wrong.

Do you really expect us to believe that for more than 150 years the people did not understand the Constitution? That an accurate interpretation required a communist-front organization, the ACLU, helping Hugo Black and the 1947 Supreme Court interpret the Constitution?

That is the stupid thing I have heard since John Kerry's last speech. And it doesn't get much 'stupider' than that.


47 posted on 08/16/2004 4:56:14 PM PDT by PhilipFreneau
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To: No_Outcome_But_Victory
"Who wants to be hit with a cement bible? "

LOL! Excellent one!

"These types have forced my family out of lots of churches, since I don't want to walk, talk and think just like them."

They are likewise one of the reasons I no longer follow any organized religion, and do not wish to.

48 posted on 08/16/2004 4:57:02 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
btt



49 posted on 08/16/2004 4:58:11 PM PDT by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat)
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To: PhilipFreneau
Well, you are claiming that for 150 years, the people of the US believed it to be a Christian Nation, when the Constitution specifically prohibits the establishment of religion (and I'm not at ALL sure that ALL of the people belived that - do you have some polling data?). Since the document's wording is quite clear, it must be that they were either misinformed, ignorant of the implications of the First, or just hadn't read it.

BTW, as the actual wording shows, the 1947 court wasn't the first time anyone thought of this. The FF's could have written it specifically into the Constitution, or the people could have passed an amendment at any time after that. They didn't.

50 posted on 08/16/2004 5:02:44 PM PDT by Long Cut (The Constitution...the NATOPS of America!)
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