In recent years, many citizens and government officials have asserted we are no longer a predominantly Christian nation. They maintain the melting pot of America has gradually eroded and weakened this country’s spiritual heritage. Some even challenge the notion we were ever a faith-based society.
However, once you look beyond the distorted reasoning of today’s postmodern culture and find the Judeo-Christian principles our great Republic was built upon, it is still apparent their deep roots remain and reveal a dynamic and abiding faith. Our national DNA is embedded with the truths of God’s Word that were operational in the lives and work ethic of our Founding Fathers and no amount of political correctness, media bias or progressive thinking can undo this reality.
A Christian nation is not necessarily one in which all leaders or citizens are professing believers, or where its laws require everyone to strictly adhere to an overtly Christian theology. A Christian nation denotes that biblical principles are incorporated into the ongoing development of essential freedoms.
Inherent in this process is the recognition of certain unalienable rights given to us by our Creator, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For America, they breathe vitality into our Constitution and are evidenced in the executive, legislative and judicial functions of our government.
As former Supreme Court Justice David Brewer so clearly explained at the turn of the 20th century:
“[I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.”1
According to Justice Brewer, America was “of all the nations in the world . . . most justly called a Christian nation,” because Christianity “has so largely shaped and molded it.”2
Our Founders understood that basic rights, including the right to religious freedom, come from our Creator and therefore could not be taken away. Our First Freedom as noted in the Bill of Rights—the Freedom of Religion—gives citizens the right to worship God without the fear of government interference. Numerous national leaders over two centuries have reiterated the influence that Christianity, with lawful and moral standards derived from Scripture, has had on America. Listen to the words of Patrick Henry, known for his fiery oratory:
“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 here.”3
Justice Earl Warren, once Attorney General of California and later appointed as Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, declared:
“I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people. . . . I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.”4
Most scholars agree on the tremendous impact that Christianity has had in shaping America. Without it we would not enjoy:
- A representative republic versus a theocratic form of government.
- The institutional separation of church and state (as opposed to today’s enforced institutional secularization of church and state).
- Protection for religious toleration and the rights of conscience.
- A distinction between theology and behavior, thus allowing the incorporation of religious principles into public policy that promote good behavior, but which do not enforce theological tenets (e.g., religious teachings such as the Good Samaritan, The Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, etc., all of which promote positive civil behavior without imposing ecclesiastical rites).
- A free-market approach to religion that ensures religious diversity.5
In this short 4 minute video, Congressman Randy Forbes details our rich Judeo-Christian heritage; recounting the legacy of faith that precedes us. There is no question we were founded as a Christian nation. What needs to be asked is whether we will continue to embrace these truths that at one time, were self-evident? The legacy of America will only survive if we reclaim our heritage from generation to generation, making every effort to protect what has been given to us through the passion and sacrifice of others.
We must not turn a blind eye or fall asleep on our watch – instead let us turn to God to protect our nation’s freedoms and guide its leaders. As we work with national and state lawmakers to do just that, let me encourage you to continue praying for and seeking every opportunity to Put God Up in the public square. He will honor the nation that honors Him!
1 David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 13.
2 David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 40.
3 Bradford, M. E. (1991). The trumpet voice of freedom: Patrick Henry of Virginia. Marlborough, NH: Plymouth Rock Foundation.
4 Breakfast in Washington,” Time, February 15, 1954 (at: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,936197,00.html)
5 Barton, David, (2009). Is America a Christian Nation? (at: http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=23909)