A lot of rhetoric gets spent in the political arena over our founding fathers and their intent in regards to our religious status as a nation. Many on the right contend that we are somehow a "christian" nation. Others, trying to seem more inclusive, call it a "judeo-christian" nation.
But fact is, we're not.
I've written in the past on this subject and have had discussions on the subject on other threads as well. I'm not gonna rehash old debates here, but just present a few key pieces of evidence that show that our founders, despite whatever faith each of them individually held, were intent on ensuring our church and state remain seperate.
Using metephoric "God" references does not make us a Christian nation. Einstein used metephoric references, but was indeed, an athiest. As have countless others thru history. That does not a christian nation make.
Remember, these founders, not only those who were directly involved with the process of writing our early documents, but the entire citizenry they represented, left England, many of them, to escape a country where a country's religion and government were one in the same. This caused them, members of different sects and faiths, to flee, seeking a land of non oppression.
When it was their turn to set things up, they did not want their religion and goverment mixed like a boilermaker. Thus the words in the 1st article of the Constitution.
But of course, everyone wants to disect those words for their own purpose or side of the argument. Let's do something different. Let's look at how the founders themselves acted after the United States was established.
In 1791, John Adams signed a treaty written by his predecessor and founding father, Thomas Jefferson. It was a treaty with the muslim nation of Tripoli. this is what the treaty said...
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion--as it has itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ...
-- Article 11, "Treaty of Peace and Friendship between The United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary,"
And Adams had this to say about the treaty...
Now be it known, that I, John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said treaty do, by and within the consent of the Senate, accept, ratify and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof.-- John Adams, upon ratifying the Treaty of Tripoli quoted from Hunter Miller, Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Vol. 2 (1776-1818), (1931)
This treaty was ratified by the US Congress and was extremely clear on how our nation, and our founders, were about church and state dating, let alone get married.
Jefferson also wrote to the Baptists and assured them that the Constitution article ensured they had "built a wall of seperation between church and state." And obviously, when he wrote the treaty of Tripoli, he hadn't changed his mind, nor was he isolated in his belief. President Adams and the Congress concurred.
Things like "one nation under God" which people argue is proof that we are a Christian nation, weren' teven added until the 1950's. "God Bless America" was another 20th century invention.
And the fact is we are a secular nation. And that 's the way the founders wanted it. It wasn't that they wanted religious freedom for all, but we were a christian nation, as they contend. The early work of the founders in official government business shows that all too clear. this non interventionist policy between government and religion does not only apply to christians and jews, but to all religions.
James Madison said...
" ...seperation of church and state is to forever keep them from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soils of Europe."
In the 1789 case, Minor v Ohio, the court again firmly and clearly established that government and religion should be kept as far apart as possible when they said...
Legal Christianity is a solecism, a contradiction of terms. When Christianity asks the aid of government beyond mere impartial protection, it denies itself. It's laws are divine, not human. Its essential interests lie beyond the reach and range of human government. United with government, religion never rises above the merest superstition; united with religion, government never rises above the merest despotism; and all history shows us that the more widely and completely they are separated, the better is for both.
Whereas certainly, Christian values did influence many of the founders to think as they thought or act as they acted as individuals, it is clear that when they were speaking as or for the government, they knew to keep their religion out of it.
They knew the dangers of co-mingling government and religion and kept them seperate. they saw how England and Europe had been hurt by that arrangement. We need to as well.
Or to paraphrase someone who once said some very wise words on the subject, "Only when the government is free from religion do we truly have freedom of religion."
That does not mean that individuals will not use their own religious faiths and values when making their own decisions. But when it is the government making the decision, whether or not god would be pleased or displeased should not be considered. The only thing that is under consideration is the health and well being of our nation.
As Jefferson said...
"Question even the existence of God. If there be one, he must approve of the homage of reason over that of blind folded fear."