“The question is, folks, is America a Christian country, or is she not?” This question recently posted has generated a little bit of angst in response. Responses have come in such as “No, it is a democratic republic” or “Christianity is a religion, not a government”. Perhaps it was not clear in the wording that it was not implied America should have a president that is a priest, or that all members of congress should also be members of the clergy? I think, however, that the meaning of the question was quite clear. The wording of the question is not the problem. The problem in our country is that a large and growing percentage of the American population do not want America to be a Christian nation. They either would like to pretend that America can function and provide “liberty and justice for all” without the Jedeo-Christian ethics that underpin her foundation, or they are not interested if all people have liberty and justice. They want, by default of their voting actions, what others in the world have: class systems, shared mediocrity, lack of freedom to choose marriage, profession, or number of children, and subservience based upon gender or race.
Let us assume for a moment that the question was unclear. What exactly does it mean to be a Christian country? Well, as is often the case in geology when looking at rocks or strata, it is sometimes easier to start with what something is not, as opposed to identifying what it is. As stated previously, being a Christian country does not mean that you have a theocracy. It does not mean that being a member of the clergy is a prerequisite for serving in public office. It does not mean that you must take an oath to serve God and Jesus Christ in order to operate a business. And perhaps, most importantly, it does not mean that you must be an avowed Christian in order to be a citizen. Being a Christian country does, however, mean that you use Judeo-Christian ethics as the basis for your foundation; which America did. Look at the founding documents. It does mean that the ethics and morals of Christianity are woven into the fabric of your laws and institutions; which they are in America. Look at the inscriptions on so many of our buildings, such as the Washington Monument and the inscription at its very top, “Laus Deo,” which means “Praise to God.” It means that those who choose to serve in the government, while they do not have to be Christians themselves, must agree to uphold those tenets whilst they are in office. Hence presidents swearing into office with their hand on a Bible, and the last line in the enlistment of military personal being the request, “so help me God” for help in executing their duties. It also means that while citizens do not have to be Christian in their individual lives, they must acknowledge the importance of those values and precepts in the continuing proper functioning and maintenance of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
So, was America founded as a Christian country? Except for those who refuse to have an honest discussion, there can be no doubt that she was. The Declaration of Independence declares that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights …” Our second president, John Adams, felt that, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other …” John Jay, the First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court believed that, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” And the earthly father of our nation, George Washington considered it, “an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life by commending the dearest county to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to His holy keeping.”
Also, by religious freedom, what were these men primarily referring to? George Washington on this subject stated, “I have often expressed my sentiments, that every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.” Our first president required men to be good citizens, and to be accountable to God alone in their personal relationship with Him. Notice President Washington did not say the public life of a person was only accountable to God; the public life of a person must also be accountable to the country. To clarify as seems necessary, it was a matter of being able to worship God without the controlling influence of the Church of England, not to worship other Gods or to keep God’s influence out of the government. Even Thomas Jefferson, who seems to be the modern darling of proving that Christianity did not or should not have any role in the founding and functioning of America, argued for religious freedom not in serving multiple different gods or no god, but specifically in serving God and Jesus Christ. “My views … are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from the anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.” President Jefferson was opposed to using religion as a controlling and persecuting factor, he was not opposed to Jesus Christ affecting either the citizenry or the government.
So why must America be a Christian country? The apparent answers are too look around and ask some questions. What other countries offer people the ability to worship any god they want in the privacy of their own homes? Even in much of western society, holding to the tenets of Christianity or Judaism is frowned upon if not outright outlawed; i.e. the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman or the belief that life is sacred. What county also offers men the ability to become whatever they have the merit to achieve? Certainly not in communist China, or the class systems of India, and even the mobility that is still present in Europe is a holdover of the influence of Christianity. There are a myriad of other examples too lengthy to offer up in a single article. In the end America must be a Christian country for a number of reasons. She was founded as one, and she functions only based upon having a citizenry that is “moral and religious.” The valuing of life, liberty, and freedom, regardless of race, or creed, come only under this Judeo-Christian system. When we see the county faltering, as in the civil war, as we do now, the cause is invariably our citizens straying from a sincere attachment to “his doctrines in preference to all others.” Without Jesus Christ at the center of our country, there is no America, at least not one that will do anything more than limp along as a bystander or serve as a disorderly tyrant to the rest of the world. Our founders knew this and so do we, some of us, for our own unknown reasons, simply choose to pretend otherwise.
-JT Cope IV