Is America a Christian Nation? Fact vs. Fiction

Here's the truth about America being founded on Christian principles.
Here's the truth about America being founded on Christian principles. (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Christians are followers of Christ, whereas a nation is a group of people who share a common identity, and often, a common origin. Some of the founders, such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, were not considered Christians. For this reason, America was not a Christian nation in the sense that every citizen or Founder was a Christian or was required to be one, but America is often labeled a Christian nation because her foundation was built on biblical principles and Christian character.

Consider the following facts:

FACT: "From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation ... that this is a Christian nation" (The U.S. Supreme Court, 1892).

FACT: The Pilgrims and Puritans emerged when the religious climate in Europe changed in the early 1500s. This was a time when many Christians returned to the authority of God's Word and the purity of biblical doctrine. Their prayers, journals and writings, such as the Mayflower Compact, indicate that their intent was the furtherance of the Good News (gospel) of Christ and His teachings. "Remember ever, and always, that your country was founded by the stern old Puritans whose first act on touching the soil of the new world was to offer on bended knees thanksgiving to Almighty God," said Henry Wilson (1812-1875), 18th U.S. vice president.

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FACT: Newsweek magazine, on Dec. 27, 1982, in an article titled "How the Bible Made America," made this revealing statement: "Historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our Founding document."

FACT: For those who doubt this and believe that statements in the Declaration of Independence such as "the laws of nature and of nature's God" were products of the enlightenment, deism, or secularism, you may want to read quotes from founders such as Alexander Hamilton, Noah Webster, John Jay, William Findley, Rufus King, and James Wilson. All attested to the fact that "the laws of nature and of nature's God" refer to laws given by God Himself. John Quincy Adams stated that the phrase assumes the existence of a God, the moral ruler of the universe, and a rule of right and wrong.

FACT: If a proposed article for the Constitution was not supported by, or rooted in the Bible, it was not considered. In their early writings, many of the Founding Fathers quoted or referenced the Bible nearly four times more than any other source.

FACT: First introduced in 1766, William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws, served as the legal reference for the Founders, as well as for many early American lawyers. Blackstone's commentaries were deeply rooted in biblical principles. It's been said that Blackstone was the first to use the phrase, "the laws of nature and of nature's God."

FACT: John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, said the following in his last will and testament: "Unto Him who is the author and giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks for His manifold and unmerited blessings, and especially for our redemption and salvation by His beloved Son."

FACT: Many of America's founders did not support slavery—they were responsible for planting the first seeds of equality and for the eventual end of slavery. John Quincy Adams was often referred to as the "hell-hound of abolition movement" for his efforts against slavery. Richard Allen, founder of the A.M.E. Church in America, said "Many of the white people have been instruments in the hands of God for our good, even such as have held us in captivity, [and] are now pleading our cause with earnestness and zeal.'"

FACT: Noah Webster, the Founding Father of American Scholarship and Education, said, "In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed ... ."

FACT: The Delaware Constitution initially required that everyone appointed to public office must say, "I do profess faith in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ His only Son ... ." Many other Constitutions, such as those of Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and Connecticut, all acknowledged their reliance on God.

FACT: In 1790, Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, said this about public schools: "But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament ... ."

FACT: "Even though the issue of slavery is often raised as a discrediting charge against the Founding Fathers, the historical fact is that slavery was not the product of, nor was it an evil introduced by, the Founding Fathers; slavery had been introduced to America nearly two centuries before the Founders" (WallBuilders).

FACT: John Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, rightly said, "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were ... the general principles of Christianity."

FACT: The denial of God in America's history has less to do with facts and more to do with the bent of what a person is prejudiced to conclude. They don't want there to be a God; they enjoy being god. It's often an issue of the heart, not the intellect.

FACT: Those who challenge America's history often acquire their information from "revisionists," or from "secular interpretations" concerning what the Founders believed, rather than looking to the Framers' "original" writings. Revisionists often use omissions, broad generalizations, and half-truths in order to rewrite history—to take the exception and portray it as the rule.

John Winthrop's (1588-1649) words still ring true today: "We shall be a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world."

Watch the sermon about America here.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his seventh book, Desperate for More of God at shaneidleman.comShane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at wcfav.orgFollow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch.

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