President Barak Obama’s declaration that America is not a Christian nation has sparked debate and controversy throughout the country. So, how would you answer the question?
For me,the answer to this question would depend on your interpretation of what it is to be a “Christian Nation”. America is not is not a theocracy (a church run state) and Americans have never been compelled to believe in any one faith perspective. But it is undeniable that America has a distinctly Judeo-Christian heritage and that our history is rooted in Biblical principles from which all freedom flows. Absent these Judeo-Christian principles, there would be no America and no liberty!
Consider the following:
1.52 of the 55 Founding Fathers who worked on the Constitution were members of orthodox Christian churches and many were evangelical Christians (see David Barton’s resources at Wallbuilders.com).
2. A study conducted at the University of Houston involving a sample of over 15,000 writings revealed that 94% of the Founders’ quotes were directly or indirectly based on the Bible (David Barton).
3. Key components of our governmental structure are clearly derived from Scripture:
a. The rationale for the Separation of Powers comes from Jeremiah 17:9 based on the Biblical idea of fallen man
b. The structure of the three-Branch System of Government comes from Isaiah 33:22 and
c. Tax Exemptions for Churches comes from Ezra 7:24.
d. The concept of Federal, State and Local Governments comes from Exodus 18:21
4. Our Founders instituted prayer at the beginning of every session of Congress and a Chaplain system in the military.
5. The Motto of the American Revolution was “No King but King Jesus!”
6. The Bible was called the “Great Political Textbook of the Patriot.”
7. The Mayflower Compact, dated November 20, 1620, records the purpose for the Plymouth colony and subsequent expansion across North America, “for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith…” This is the American Covenant, that is, the document which organized the first civil government with linkage to the Great Commission and based on the principle of Christian self-government!
8. Our Declaration of Independence, dated July 4, 1776, makes four direct references to God and our dependence on Him.
9. Our US Constitution was ratified on September 17 “in the Year of our Lord” 1787 (Article VII, subscription clause)! Its principles are distinctly Biblical.
And if our founders were truly Deists, how do you explain the following quotes:
The first President of the United States in his Farewell Address (Sept. 19, 1796) stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars…”
The First Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court and one of the three men most responsible for the Constitution said, “It is the duty—as well as the privilege and interest—of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
Founding Father, Author of Webster’s Dictionary, educator, largely responsible for Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution “The religion that has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles… to this we owe our free Constitutions of Government. …No truth is more evident to my mind than that Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”
John Quincy Adams
America’s sixth President, said (in a speech delivered on July 4, 1837, at Newburyport): “Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”
These are not the words of Deists. These are Christian men declaring that the precepts upon which our nation is founded are indeed Christian and to preserve the blessings of this nation, we must preserve this Christian foundation.
What are these precepts?
1. Man is fallen and capable of wickedness (Jer. 17:9), therefore, the powers of civil government must be separated (and found the Biblical pattern for separation in Is. 33:22).
2. God-granted inalienable rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (private property and free enterprise): this stands in stark contrast to the idea of Man-granted privileges (“divine right of kings” which allows the sovereign to live “above” God’s and man’s law).
3. God’s principle of individuality: Exalts God and explains how He works through individuals and individual nations; each person is a unique and valuable creation of God.
It exposes the error of secular collectivism (i.e., the idea that the state has value, not the individual) and the error of individualism separate from Christ. (I Corinthians 12:4-11)
4. The Christian principle of self-government: In order to have true liberty, man must be governed internally by the Spirit of God rather than by external forces. Government is first individual, and then extends outward to the family, church, and community. The principle of self-government involves God ruling internally from the heart of the individual and is dependent upon man’s obedience to “the spirit of the law of Christ” (Rom. 8:2; Prov. 16:32; Rom. 8:2; Eph. 6:6; I Tim. 3:5)
5. America’s heritage of Christian character: The image of God engraved inside the individual brings dominion and change to his outside environment. The Founders understood that Christian Character (based on a strong sense of accountability to God) in governmental leadership is essential to the preservation of liberty in America. The model of Christian character is the Pilgrim and Patriot character. Becoming accountable for one’s individual actions and productivity is the fruit of Christian character. (Matt. 7:24-29; Acts 24:16; Phil. 4:13; II Tim. 4:7)
6. Private property with conscience as the most sacred of all property: Christians are required to exercise faithful stewardship of their God-given sense of right and wrong which is the key to the proper use of private property. Conscience is also a tool for the development of self-government as each child learns to submit his will. (Acts 5:4, 24:16; Eph. 2:10; I Tim. 3:9; II Tim. 1:3; Heb. 13:18)
7. Planting the seed of local self-government and the importance of the home: Identifies the Judeo-Christian home’s responsibility for maintaining religious and civil liberty under law (and the fruits of local sovereignty) including teaching and practicing industry, charity, and obedience to all laws not contrary to Scripture. (Deut. 6:1-9; 10:12-14; Is. 9:6; Lk. 9:6)
8. The Christian principle of voluntary union: God wants His children to cooperate and work together politically, commercially, and in meeting community needs through voluntary consent, without compromising a Christian conscience or Scriptural separation. (Ps. 133:1; I Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:1-3)
With all this, the question still remains, “Is America a Christian nation?”
If one were to judge based on our foundation the answer would be undeniably “Yes!” But as we turn away from these precepts, we become less and less a Christian nation. And despite what some would have us believe, this is not a good thing.