The Christian States of America?

There has been much debate on this site and across the web over whether the United States is a Christian nation or a secular nation. The debates can be categorized into three distinct questions: Is America currently a Christian nation? Was America founded as a Christian nation? And finally, should America be(come) a Christian nation? On the extreme sides of this debate are fundamentalists and atheists. Fundamentalists who desire a ‘Christian America’ often are of the opinion that the nation was founded as a Christian nation but an encroaching anti-Christian sentiment has made it a secular nation in need of reformation. On the other hand, atheists who believe America should be secular are of the opinion that America was founded as secular and has been growing increasingly Christian in recent times. Both sides feel they need to save the country from the other group. Which group is right about which questions and to what extent? This article attempts to detangle the noise surrounding this debate and argues that the nation was founded as, is still, and should remain secular.

Question one: Is America currently a Christian nation? First it is important to define exactly what is meant by ‘nation’. According to About.com, “Nations are culturally homogeneous groups of people, larger than a single tribe or community, which share a common language, institutions, religion, and historical experience.” We clearly meet this definition with respect to language, institutions, and historical experience but what about religion? Clearly, Christianity is the majority religion with approximately three-fourths of America’s population identifying themselves as Christian. Despite this seeming hegemony, only 40% of these say they and everyone in their household do not regularly attend a church. Furthermore, only 36% of US adult population identify themselves as ‘born again’, and only 9% as evangelical. These statistics indicate that even within the majority religion, there is a vast diversity of beliefs and practices and that the more extreme the form of Christianity, the smaller the group. Not surprisingly, it seems that the largest ‘religious’ group in the United States consists of those who are nominally (non-practicing) Christian or moderate Christian. The only way such diversity can thrive is if the country is largely secular in behavior. Further evidence for this fact is that the United States has no official religion and certainly no state-sponsored religion (although it can be argued that Bush’s "Faith-Based Initiatives" are changing that).

Question two: Was America founded as a ‘Christian nation’. As demonstrated above, it is difficult to even define what a ‘Christian nation’ is due to the large diversity of beliefs. Again, from the Barna Poll, we can see that one-third of born again Christians believe abortion is morally acceptable, about one-half believe that Satan is "not a living being but is a symbol of evil, and over one-fourth believe that Jesus sinned during his lifetime. With such differing opinions, it is difficult to even define what a ‘Christian Nation’ would look like.

A similar type of diversity existed among the founding fathers. While pretty much all of them are associated with various Christian denominations, they held diverse opinions about theology and morality. In particular, two of the most influential founders, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin had beliefs that would be considered ‘non-Christian’ by today’s standards. They, in fact, considered themselves Deists and doubted all miraculous events depicted in the Bible including the divinity of and resurrection of Jesus.

To answer the questions, we can look at whether the founders intended the government to be a Christian one. Often and especially online, this argument takes the form of a battle of quotes where each side takes things said by the founders out of context and uses them to support their own agenda. Both sides of the argument are guilty of this. Compellations of quotes in support of and against the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation can be found all across the web. This article will not use this method but instead rely on historical context and the founding documents as proof that the nation was founded as a secular one.

The founders were eager to be rid themselves of European authoritarianism. They distrusted any kind of authority, including religious. This attitude is clear from the fact that not one of the three main founding documents, The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederacy, and The Constitution, endorse Christianity. Furthermore, only the Declaration of Independence has any reference to God whatsoever. The three references are "Nature’s God", "their Creator", and "Divine Providence". The language they chose probably seems a bit odd to modern day Christians. This is because these terms are more similar to the modern day "life force" or "higher power". The scarcity and vagueness of reference to God clearly indicates a non-Christian basis for government.

Many Christians point to the fact that "In God We Trust" appears on our currency as evidence that the US was founded as a Christian nation. The fact is, though, that the motto was not used on our currency until about a full century after the founding. Also, it did not replace the old national motto, E Pluribus Unum, until mid 1956, during the height of the McCarthy scare. The change was made in order to further differentiate the democratic US from the communist Soviet Union, which promoted atheism. The same legislation that changed the motto also add "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Looking at the most important founding document of all, the Constitution, in the section that defines and defends individual rights, the first ten amendments, the importance of not having a national religion can be seen by the fact that the first few words of the first amendment read, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…". England and, indeed, all of Europe had been torn apart by fighting over which form of Christianity should be the official religion, Catholic or a Protestant, over the century leading up to the American Revolution. The founders wisely chose to set aside their own Christian beliefs to prevent such strife by ensuring that no national religion was possible. Overall, it can be said that The United States was founded by Christians, but not as a Christian nation but a secular one.

Question three: Should the United States become a Christian nation? Very little time will be spent answering this question as it has already been answered in the previous two sections. The US should remain secular. One reason is that there is no consensus over what it means to be Christian let alone what it means to be a Christian nation. Furthermore, a national religion would inevitable lead to internal conflict. Christianity was the dominant and official religion of all the European nations yet many wars were fought over which version of Christianity should be the official one. In England alone, you had the English Revolution that was precipitated as a result of King Charles I imposing the Anglican liturgy on the largely Presbyterian Scotts. This was well after the bloody wars that displaced Catholicism in that country. It was also the English governments religious intolerance that lead to the Puritans freeing persecution (from other Christians) leaving Europe for America. The only way to avoid such religious conflict is to not have an official religion of any kind.

In conclusion, despite some of the claims put forth by many atheists, the founders were overwhelmingly Christian. Yet despite their religious beliefs, they chose reason over faith. They knew that endorsing Christianity as the official religion would lead to conflict that would tare apart the fragile new nation. They knew this through their knowledge of history of the influence of religion on government. For this reason, they left religion out of the founding documents, most importantly, the Constitution, which is the official basis for the United States. Having been founded as secular nation, the United States has thrived for over 200 years as a secular nation populated with mostly Christians. If we are to continue to thrive, we must remain secular lest we let our differing religious beliefs lead to conflict.

–Sidfaiwu

References:

http://www.sullivan-county.com/nf0/dispatch/fathers_quote2.htm

http://www.sullivan-county.com/id3/debate.htm

http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/8830/8830.ch01.html

http://www.eadshome.com/QuotesoftheFounders.htm

http://www.theology.edu/journal/volume2/ushistor.htm

http://www.lawandliberty.org/founders.htm

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/farrell_till/myth.html

http://geography.about.com/cs/politicalgeog/a/statenation.htm

http://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html#religions

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States

http://www.adherents.com/misc/BarnaPoll.html

http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=Topic&TopicID=2

http://www.msmagazine.com/fall2004/fightingwords.asp

http://www.ffrf.org/fttoday/1999/May99/lynn.html

http://www.religioustolerance.org/nat_mott.htm

http://www.usconstitution.net/articles.html

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/index.htm

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761563157/English_Revolution.html

50 Responses to “The Christian States of America?”

  1. Bravo for avoiding the quote war or calling to the Deist founders argument. Also the fact that the Establishment act was placed to protect Christians from Christians is a point alot of people over look. I’ll have to read through this further, but this looks like a great report.

  2. Naery says:

    Meh. If it WAS founded as a Christian nation, laws would be christian-oriented, not secular-oriented no?

    As for what it should become… well, that’s up to the most lound and obnoxious fanatics to decide, like Jack Thomson or those Wesboro idiots…

  3. J says:

    Although they did not state the word Christian or actually state directly Christian beliefs or anything, you will find that they based the nation on principles that are in line with Christianity and The Bible. Their goal was not for it to be a “Christian nation.” Christianity doesn’t even call for itself to be the govermental religion of nations and become a world-dominating government. The wanted to stress religious tolerance and did not want to restrict people’s beliefs. But they did found it on principles that line up with Christianity. Also, the writter is correct when saying it is not a Christian nation today. It is very far from it.

  4. Your Father says:

    “The wanted to stress religious tolerance and did not want to restrict people’s beliefs. But they did found it on principles that line up with Christianity.”

    Explain to me how these principles line up with christianity any more than with secular humanism.

  5. J says:

    “That all men are CREATED EUQAL, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable right.”

    Also, if you look into the history of America, the committee charged to write “The Fundameltal Orders of Connecticut” in Jan. 14 1639, which was the first consititution written in America was charged to makes laws “As near the law of God as possible.” If you look into some of the other state constitutions like New Hampshire’s of 1639 and “Colonial Legislature of New York Colony”-1665, they all mention Laws in line with Christianity and even mention phrases like “To maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we know profess.” )Preamble to Connectitcut. Now granted, these are not the actual “founding documents” of America but they set up and show the belief system of The Colonies at the time.

    John Eidsmoe on the influential thinkers of the DOI and US Constitution-”Two professors, Donald S. Lutz and Charles Hyneman, have reviewed an estimated 15,000 items, and closedly read 2,200 books, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and monographs with explicitly political content printed beween 1760 and 1805. They reduced this to 9167 items, about one third of all public writings longer than 2,000 words. From these items, Lutz and hyneman identified 3,154 references to other sources. The source most often cited by the fouding fathers was the Bible, which accounted for 34 percent of all citations. The fifth book of the Bible, Dueteronomy, because of its heavy emphasis on biblical law, was referred to frequently…” (“Christianity and the Constitution” pages 51-53). I am showing how influential CHristianity was at the time among founding fathers.

    There was alot of Christian ideals and principles in the Revolution as well. Read Samuel Adams:”Rights of the colonist” and especially the section The Right of the Colonists as Christians.

    A very important concept in forming America was the idea of a “higher law” Thomas Jefferson and James Madison’s ideas and thoughts were drew from the articles “The spirit of the Laws” by Baron De Montesquie, Lex Rex by Samuel Rutherford, and “Commentaries on the Laws of England” by William Blackstone. Lex Rex, for example, means Law is King. Before this, it had been rex lex or king is law. This is very important. Meaning that the law is higher than the government. This is a very Christian idea. in Lex Rex Rutherford balances the role of man and God in the estbalishment of government. Read it and see. It is all over the document. he says, for just one example, that “All civil power if immediately from God in its root.” The Spirit of the Laws and COmmentaries on the Law of England go into much the same thing. IN Commentaries, Blackstone says the Law is revealed through “Holy Scriptures.”

    Some key phrases in the DOI would be “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” “truths to be self-evident”, “with a firm reliance on the protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE.” DOI phrases like those can are found to be inter-related to documents such as the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, The “Westminster Confession” and the 3 documents of Lex Rex, etc.

    Secular humanism does not have this idea of a higher law.

    On the Constitution, it is important to note that Madison was trained in theology by john Witherspoon. A book “Never Before in History point this out, “The Key idea of the new Consititution was contained in the word federal, a term based on calvinist theology. In the american colonies, the words federal and federal head were widely and generally understood because of the widespread influence of Calvinist CHristianity. In the 1780′s, to say that America was a federal government with a federal constitution immediately implied that Calvinist principles were being employed in forming a new union.
    “The English word federal comes from the Latin word foedus, which means a permanent bonf or union. Foedus was often used in the Latin Bible to translate the Hebrew word for ‘covenant’.
    “In calvinist theology, thefore a federal union was unbreakable union based on a sacred covenatnt agreement. even in scular texts, the word federal came to refer to a permanent agreement.
    (pages 142-143)

    as you can see, there was a strong Christian influence on part of almost everyone involved from the time america was colonized. Its inevitable that it would not be based on principles that are in line with christianity. Secular humanism cannot share some of these like Creator, natural born right, and a higher law that even governs the ggovernment.

    “Laws of nature and natures God”

  6. J says:

    Just a note on all that..thats how it was supposed to be created by the founders. The U.S. does not necessarily hold to these beliefs anymore. I personally believe that the nation is secular humanistic now.

  7. JKM says:

    “That all men are CREATED EUQAL, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable right.”

    That sentence does not say created by who, just by their creator. I have always understood it in a way that if you believe you are created by Allah, God, Kami, Spaghettimonster or what ever you are created equal under the laws they were creating at the time. Law above gods and all allowed to believe to their own god while following the law.

  8. J says:

    But that is just my point. They didn’t directly say anything about Christianity or refer to “Chris” or anything. But that is in line with Christianity. it does not have to be exclusively in line with Christianity to be, in fact, in line with Christianity. But if you looked at the time, most founders agreed that this would be the Christian God, as well as most people in the nation. Part of the beauty of it is that that phrase could be used by any religion. The creators, meant it in the Christian way but did not require everybody to. Your Father Says was asking how it is different from secular humanism, not other religions.

  9. sidfaiwu says:

    Hello J,

    I’m just wondering if you actually read the part of the paper that deals with the references to a God in The Declaration of Independence. These references are vague in their language. Also, the very term “Nature’s God” is suggestive of a natural religion, not a revealed one like Christianity. The other two, “Creator” and “Divine Providence”, also deal only with the ‘nature’ aspect of God and not the Christian concept of God. More significantly, the documents that actually defined the government, The Articles of Confederation and The Constitution, have no references to God and only mention religion long enough to say that the government cannot get involved.

    Also, I don’t doubt that the founders had Christian influences (hell, they were Christians, at least to the public). What I find significant is the utter lack of endorsement of Christianity in all of the founding documents. It shows that, despite their Christian beliefs, the founders wisely chose reason over faith. I outlined the some of the reasons to their rational in the article.

    I also find your sources interesting. Just like in the evolution argument, you seek out obscure ‘authorities’ that are not really recognized by the experts in the field. Who are Baron De Montesquie and Samuel Rutherford? More influential and relevant writers of the time were Voltaire (a Deist) and John Locke (a Christian), both of whom wrote about natural law and strongly criticized religion’s role in government.

  10. J says:

    sidfaiwu,
    Baron De Montesquie as VERY influential writer. He was the most cited thinker in the 177os and 1780s. You need to look up your 18th century history some before you write them off completely. These were European writers. And if you have not heard of Lex Rex by Samuel Rutherforde (English 17th century), you need to look into history a lot more. He also was one of the fathers of the Westminster COnfession, which I am sure you have heard of. John Locke got most of his ideas from these men. You can look at their documents and compare. Locke bridged the gap between Thomas Jefferson and The 3 political philosophers. These sources were quoted by the Fouding Fathers the most. Its history, it cannot be changed. Experts agree with me. You can read the articles and see how much they parallet to the Fouding Fathers, DOI, and Constitution.

    The thing I don’t think you are realising is that I am basically agreeing with you. Religion should not control the state. The church and the state should not be one. I agree with freedom of religion.

    But you will find that the founding fathers indeed implied God in those quotes. You’re not being objective in your reasoning. I know you wish that this country was not influenced by Christianity, including DOI And the COnstitution, but it is a fact.

    As I’ve said all along, even though these documents do not directly endorse Christianity, they are based on Christian principles whether you accept it or not. The founders did not want to endorse christianity. They wanted to endorse a nation that would have freedom of religion. I think we agree on this. But nonetheless, the documents were founded up principles that are Christian.

  11. J says:

    wow i really need to proofread this, IS**** first sentence.

  12. J says:

    im way too tired WAS***

  13. The major point here though is that most people are pushing the Christian foundings of America as justification to push through the predjudices of the bible. While many people of many religions would agree that some of the 10 commandments are fine (I don’t go around killing, stealing, or lying on the stand as a witness and I’m not Christian) some of the others would be too far as laws in a country. I have no reason to keep holy the Sabbath and I’ve found that its an inconvenience to me that so much is closed to me on Sunday. Honoring thy mother and father? I don’t think we can legislate that. Coveting my neighbor’s wife of goods? Are we going to have a law against wishing I had a wife that hot or a Plasma TV that big? Taking the lords name in vain? Scary that some people would want me arested if I shouted “Jesus Christ!” upon dropping a box of books on my foot. And no gods before me? Then we just start rounding up all the infidels and non-believers.

    It goes past the Ten Commandments as well. If we took some of the other things said in the bible to law, gays would be jailed again in this country for their sexual preference, women would have to sacrifice doves or pidgeons when they became pregnant, keep away from men while on their cycle, and would have to stay quiet in churches. Oh and when we go to war with another country that believes differntly, we should kill all the males and women that have known men, but the virgin girls are ours for the taking.

    I’m not saying that you want this, J. But the problem is that alot of very visible and charismatic figures are trying to convince this country that we should put more of the Bible into the law books. If we open that door at all, its just going to let the fanatics in.

  14. skwerel says:

    First off, the reference to “natural religion.” If you are speaking of such naturalistic religions as that of the early moors, or of the more modern Wikka, such religions would not had a significant influence on the founding fathers. Their only exposure to such religions would have come from studying history, or vaguely possibly from contact with nomadic descendents of the moors living throughout northern england at the time. You must remeber where the fathers came from. They left England because they believed that they were oppressed by the crown and the Church of England. In fact, if most modern theologions would sit down and discuss theology with the founding fathers, they would most likely be disgusted by their extremest views and inacurate exegesis of the Bible. In light of their lack of exposure to naturalistic religion, and thier already known Christian background, to suggest that they were referring to natural religions is simply absurd. Similar argument can be made regarding the term “creator” and how, due to the fathers’ background, it cound not have referred to Allah or any other such god.

    As for the term “divine providence,” are you familiar with the term and what it means? It is a term used quite often in Theology to describe how the occurance of all events were both forseen and ordaned by God.

    It is true that the documents defining the federal government have very little mention of God, but the founding fathers did not want to form a “Christian nation.” They wanted to make a nation where anyone who felt oppressed were free to exercise their religion without restricion. It just happened that their particular religion was Christianity, (or in the case of some, mormanism.)

    On the matter of the sources aforementioned by J, I myself am not familiar with the baron; however, i am quite familiar with the writings of Rutherford. He was born in Scotland around the year 1600. At the time of his writings, he held the posotion of Professor of Humanity at Edinburgh college. He was exiled from the country as a result of his writings, which defended the theology of John Calvin and opposed the more predominant theology at the time, that of Joseph Arminius. (not sure of the spelling there…) He was later released in 1638 during the debates in Scotland regarding Presbyterianism vs. Episcopacy. Later that year, when the Church of Scotland restored Presbyterianism to the country, he was appointed Proffessor of Theology at St Andrews. During this time, he attended the Westminister Assembly in England, one of the gatherings held by Christians to discuss theolgy and establish “norms,” he was deeply involved in the formation of the “Shorter Catyclysm,” and he authored the book Lex Rex. The monarchy was restored in 1660, and in 1661 Rutherford was charged with treason, although he died before he could be executed.

    The reason that J mentioned him was that his book, Lex Rex, was one of the major documents that the fathers’ used when drafting the documents that defined government. It is not merely, as you say, some obscure source.

    As for the initial argument, I would agree with you that our nation is not Christian today, because of the lack of uniformity in what is considered Christian. I also agree that our nation was not specificly founded as a “Christian Nation,” but I do hold that it was founded using Christian beliefs and biases. You claim that they chose reason over faith, but I believe that because of the nature of their religion, their very reason was based upon their faith! I think that it would be a bad thing for our nation to become Christian, mostly based on previous models.

    May I point out, if it would be allowed, that the history of “Christian Nations” bringing about their own demise through internal conflict and corruption lies even deeper that the nations you mentioned. If you will recall, the fall of the Roman Empire, arguably the most influential empire of all time, came shortly after Constantine The Great transformed the Empire into a “Christian Nation.” The empire that had ruled for almost two centuries came to a screeching halt in 410, 73 years after Constantine’s death.

    In short, I agree with your conclusions, but not your reasoning.

  15. sidfaiwu says:

    Hello J,

    There is no need to stringently proof read posts. I know I make typos of that sort all the time.

    Anyway, could you provide a link so that others can verify the claim “Baron De Montesquieu as VERY influential writer? He was the most cited thinker in the 177os and 1780s.” Thanks.

    “John Locke got most of his ideas from these men”. Well, Locke may have been influenced by Samuel Rutherford (could you provide a supporting link?), since they were contemporaries, but Baron De Montesquieu (born 1689) was only 15 when Locke died (in 1704) and had not yet published anything of note by that age. Thus he could not have influenced Locke.

    I must admit that these men’s work is outside of my historical knowledge. I am very knowledgeable of English history (and of European history, to a lesser extent) from the end of the English Revolution through and slightly past the Protestant Reformation; roughly the years 1650 – 1700.

    It is also interesting that you reference John Eidsmoe. He is an evangelical who wants to end the separation of Church and State and believes that it was never intended by the founders. He is one is the obscure ‘authority’ that is not recognized by historical experts.

    “…you will find that the founding fathers indeed implied God in those quotes. You’re not being objective in your reasoning.” I never said that they didn’t recognize God in those quotes. My point was that the language does not fit with the Christian concept of God. How is that not objective?

    Also, I never denied the influence of Christianity on our government and culture. When you live in a democracy with a majority being Christian, it is inevitable. The founders wisely created the Bill of Rights to protect minorities from the “tyranny of the majority”. The only way to accomplish that is to form a secular nation.

    I realized that you largely agreed with me upon re-reading your post after posting my response. Where we disagree is over whether or not the founding documents were based on Christian principles or not. I definitely agree that some of the principles found in the documents are in line with some Christian principles, but certainly not all of them. For instance, the Bible only ever endorses one kind of government, a benevolent (by Christian standards) monarchy. All of the metaphors for the relationship between man and God in the Bible are taken from monarchies; Jesus was ‘King’, God is the ‘Lord’, etc. Also, the Bible is big on obedience whereas the Constitution’s first amendment promotes dissidence.

  16. Josh says:

    J,

    As with sidfaiwu, I’m talking about the main documents the country was founded on. The only thing that would make the principles “Christian” per-se would be if they referenced something uniquely Christian. If you take Jesus out of the equation, there is nothing “Christian” about it… it then becomes, well, generic principle.

    On a more basic level, I know plenty of people from all walks of life with various religions and drastically different levels of faith. And whether Atheist, Deist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or “I don’t know or care”… All of them share a COMMON set of principles, and it is ludicrous to say that they are unique to any particular religion (which is what “christian principles” implies).

  17. sidfaiwu says:

    Hello skwerel,

    I didn’t mean to suggest that the founders were anything but Christian. By ‘natural religion’, I was referring to how Deists understand God, not pantheism or animism. The Deist’s approach was one that the founders largely agreed with. They believed that through observing nature and using reason, one can arrive at the existence of God. It is this ‘natural’ route to God that the DOI is referencing. Granted, they believed that this God was also the God of the Bible, but they didn’t endorse the Christian revelation route. Hopefully, Humanistic Jones will be better able to explain this position in his up coming ‘Just Ask’ session.

  18. skwerel says:

    jones…

    consider this…

    The entirety of the Old Testament Law is based upon two simply philosophy: Love God with everything, and Love your Neighbor as much as you love yourself. If you loved your neigbor, you wouldn’t lie to him steal from him, murder him, or even wish to have things that are his. If your best friend marries the sexiest woman on the planet, you are happy for him. If you loved every one with this same love, you wouldn’t even have to try to obey the laws in the Bible; you would do it without trying!

    Now given, the laws in the bible that refer to loving God are probably not going to work in our country, because they would not be tolerated, but if we would simply have as much concern for others as we do for ourselves, the benefits would be unimaginable. Crime rates would plummit, virtually all murder, rape, theft, and extortion would cease, and political corruption would vanish.

    As for the commands about sacrificing animals and all that, when Jesus Christ came to earth, he came to abolish the old law with its regulations and policies. The Pharisees, religious nutcases of the time, had added to the law and twisted it into something that was no longer beneficial to the people, but instead had become burdensome to the point that no one could follow it perfectly. When Christ came, he came with a new law, and pointed out that the original old law was based on the two aforementioned principles.

    For this next part I am quite angry with myself that I do not have raw numbers to present, nor the time to research to find them, but if you wish to contradict these facts, feel free to conduct your own research.

    I will use the example of homosexuality in my explanation, simply because it is the one that you brought up.

    Homosexuality is explicitly forbidden in the Bible. Many people view this as “discrimatory” or “prejeduced.” However, homosexuality has NO benefits, and in fact is quite harmful to society.

    In the late 70′s, homosexuality was viewed as vulgar and disgusting, on the same level as pedophilia. A prominent gentlemen in the fight for gay rights said “Just make them laugh at it, then they will accept it.” Homosexuality began appearing in TV and movies, first as being mocked, then as being refered to as a joke, and then as a context for a normal lifestyle. Now, 30 years later, it is accepted.

    Studies have been made and surveys taken that show the following statistics (the specific numbers are not available to me, but they are overwhelming.)

    1. Gay men are, on average, less content with their lifestlyle than straight men.
    2. Sexually transmitted diseases are almost twice as frequent among homosexual partners than heterosexual partners.
    3. The suicide rate for homosexual individuals is neary 2/3 higher than that of heterosexual individuals.

    If homosexuality were outlawed, why would it be a bad thing for soceity as a whole???????

    i must apologize for my slight tangent there. Anyway, my point is, the laws laid out in the bible were put there for our benefit, not to restrict us. It is like when mom tells you not to touch the stove. It is not because she is a horrible person and hates you and wants to restrict your freedom and oppress you, it is because she loves you and doesn’t want you to get burnt. this is the way that the law should be. For our benefit, so that we don’t burn ourselves. If something is detremental to society, then it dosn’t belong!

  19. skwerel says:

    sidfaiwu,

    sorry about the confusion there, and thank you for clarifying. In light of your explanation, i think i could accept that the terms were referring to the “natural religion” that you were referring to. In fact, this is a very basic yet vital concept in Christian Theology. It is refered to as General Revelation.

    Once again, thank you for the explanation.

  20. To skwerel:
    I believe the intended meaning of Natural Religion is not so much Nature Religion as it is the opposite of Revealed Religion. Natural religions seek to find the spiritual by conemplation of our natural world where as Revealed religions have their spirituality outlined in divine revalation from their deity. Nature religions may be either Natural or Revealed, as the worship of Nature could have come as prescribed by the spirits in nature, or as a method of coming to spiritual understanding. Certainly the founders would have had little experience with Nature Religions, but they would have had much experience with Natural Religion.

  21. sidfaiwu says:

    Hello skwerel,

    I’m glad to help clarify the language I used. It was, admittedly, easy to misinterpret.

  22. skwerel says:

    Jones

    i know this is a little off topic and less debative than it is informative, but it may provide some insight to some of the ideas in Christianity.

    One major area of Christianity is the area of Revelation. This is the manner in which we are made aware of things, both things about the nature of God, and other, non-religous related topics, such as why you fall when you jump out of an airplane. Most Christians hold to the belief that this occurs in one of two ways, those ways being known as General Revelation and Special Revelation.

    General Revelation is an all-encompassing area that contains pretty much all of what we are doing here. It includes things like discovery through meditation, philosophy, debate and discussion, research, and the contemplation of how the stars got to where they are. Obviously, not all conclusions derrived from general revelation are true, they are merely human interpretation of various sensual inputs. (i refer to the five senses, of course.)

    Special revelation refers to that which man could not know by himself, but that which was revealed to him by the direct intervetion of God. Examples include the Bible, prophecy, etc. It is also believed by some that true faith cannot come without some influence by Special Revelation, ie, a pygmy who has never seen a bible and has never had anyone tell him about Jesus can’t be saved.

    Just some background info that may prove useful to you sometime.

  23. Your Father says:

    “1. Gay men are, on average, less content with their lifestlyle than straight men.
    2. Sexually transmitted diseases are almost twice as frequent among homosexual partners than heterosexual partners.
    3. The suicide rate for homosexual individuals is neary 2/3 higher than that of heterosexual individuals.

    If homosexuality were outlawed, why would it be a bad thing for soceity as a whole???????”

    As for items 1 and 3, if everyone accepted gay people and their lifestyle and there wasn’t biggotry toward them, do you really think they would be as depressed overall? Find me a study that shows causality of depression from gay sex.

    If homosexuality were outlawed, it would not stop people from being homosexual, it would just force them back in the closet.

    What if we outlawed eating anything high in cholesterol?
    Would it be bad for society as a whole???
    Of course not, but this isn’t about societal health, this is about human rights and freedom. I’m sure if that happened, all you christian types would be up in arms about your right to eat the tastier animals god put on the earth for you to slaughter.

  24. Josh says:

    Skwerel,

    Using the parental stove reasoning is interesting. They tell you not to, but you still can. It is your God-given right… free will. Should there be laws against? No way! Should trans-fatty acids be illegal? Alcohol? Tobacco? Driving your car? I’m pretty sure that cars are way more dangerous and do far more harm (kill/mame) within society than homosexuals.

    You mention the biblical laws were there to protect and not restrict? Not shaving my face is protecting me? What is the benefit of my not wearing clothing of mixed fibers? Do my wife and I really need to be protected from each other during her cycle? The list goes on…

    And if you take the Christian perspective of all the old laws being irrelevant now and that Jesus set the new ones… where does homosexuality fall within that? I don’t recall him taking issue with anyone except for scumbags and the foolish people who were closed minded and thought they had it all figured out.

  25. J says:

    Jones, you make an interesting point in post13. You have to take the view that when Christ came the old Jewish ritual laws like sacrificing, circumcision, and things of that nature were no longer necessary. For New Testament reference go to Romans, 2:25-29 and Romans 14 especially. Romans 3 and 4 explain alot as well. but there are absolute laws in Dueteronomy that are necessary for society.

    Further, read some of these sections from Lex Rex:compact, condition, material breach, and natural law for a good explanation of the basis of American civil law. He quotes the Bible numerous times.

    But I agree, there are some religious fanatics who want everything in the Bible to be in the Constitution, all the Mosaic Laws, but this would be wrong.

    On homosexuality, the U.S. defines marrige between a man and a woman. Where do you think this comes from? Homosexuality is tolerated but not completely. Also, it would not be bad if we outlawed homosexuality because of things like AIDS. IT is shown to be more frequent in homosexual relations.

  26. sidfaiwu says:

    We are getting off topic, so I’ll try to bring it back in. J, I’m still interested in any response you might have to my post at #15.

  27. Your Father says:

    “On homosexuality, the U.S. defines marrige between a man and a woman. Where do you think this comes from? Homosexuality is tolerated but not completely. Also, it would not be bad if we outlawed homosexuality because of things like AIDS. IT is shown to be more frequent in homosexual relations.”

    Where does it come from… tradition, superstition, and ignorance. Our country was found by people who burned witches.

    It would be a bad thing in that it restricts peoples rights, and that in a realistic application, it would probably cause more problems than it prevents. Should we also outlaw sex all together and insist that procreation be achieve artificially? Surely this would be safer. Instead of preaching against sex, which people are going to have anyways (straight or otherwise), it is better to teach safe sex.

  28. J says:

    sidfaiwu,
    On Montesquieu. Even though I don’t like Wikopedia much, here is an overview.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_de_Secondat,_Baron_de_Montesquieu
    Note when it says “Montesquieu is believed to have been a powerful influence on many of the American Founders, most notably James Madison, and English translations of his books remain in print to this day (Cambridge University Press edition: ISBN 0521369746).” They would not put this in here unless historians believed he had an influence.

    For more scholarly source
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/montesquieu/

    Especially note “This theory of the separation of powers had an enormous impact on liberal political theory, and on the framers of the constitution of the United States of America.” This is in Wike too.
    His belief that men are inherently evil, a christian idea, and given the oppurtunity they would want to accumulate more power and this is why his different branches are so important and had an impact on James Madison. There are many sources that say he probably had a large influence on the American political system.

    On the statistics. Dr. Donald S. Lutz and CHarles S Hyneman, did in fact do a study of documents from that time period. They are recent people and Lutz is a professor at University of Houston. These are expets. many sources confirm hey did the study. They even wrote a book on it if you want to read. One such confirmation is
    http://www.blackstoneinstitute.org/sirwilliamblackstone.html
    -which further confirm Blackstone’s influence. I got the original statistics from Christianity and the COnsititution but it is a fact that they have no affilation with that book that i know of.

    By influenced, i mean not directly but through ideas and writting.
    http://davekopel.org/Religion/Scottish-and-English-religious-roots-of-the-right-to-arms.pdf#search=%22John%20Locke%20and%20samuel%20rutherford%22
    John Locke continued the ideas of rutherford.
    http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b2lockej.htm
    quote – “Even after 60 years old, Locke published many books about philosophy, science, and politics. Samuel Rutherford’s book, Lex Rex was one of several works that influenced Locke.”

    as we have already discussed, the language is very consistent the the concept of a Christian God. Mainly talking about the DOI. I don’t know if you care much, but I did a project of inter-relating Vital Documents and i compared the quotes “Laws of nature and nature’s God” “Truths to be self-evidenct” “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” From the consent of the governed” and “with a firm reliance on the protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE” with the documents John Calvin’s “Institutes”, the Westminster Confession, Lex Rex, The Spirit of the Laws, Blackstones “Commentaries, and Locke’s Two Treatises. I found that they all had very similiar quotes and ideas in them.

    You are right about the monarchy. In the Old Testament, the Bible advocates a monarchy, but that is probably because it was easier with God actively and visibly working in Israel and that would make sense because there is one God. You will find that in the New Testament, one is not as advocated. Romans 13: 1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” It was also not a “law” that every nation must have a monarchy, but just Israel. And again, this was probably because of their special connection to God. It does not necessarily work for other nations in the sense that they are told to do it.

    So would you say that the U.S. Constitution is not big on obediance? No, you would say it emphasizes posible disagreement, but that has nothing to do with disobedience.

    Anyway, that is my 2 cents.

  29. skwerel says:

    If one can argue that things which restrict rights are bad, then how long will it be until murder is legal? Why have things like speed limits? Don’t they just encourage people to speed? In a realistic sense, I do not look forward to the day where pedophiles are considered normal and rape is just a part of life that no one cares about. Thirty years ago homosexuality was viewed as vulgar and disgusting, but now it is accepted. Where does the madness end?

    In a world where there are no absolutes, the law is unneccessary, and chaos reigns freely. The whole idea of government is to restrict some rights in order to bring order to chaos and to quelch the anarchy that naturally arises from doing whatever we want to do. Governments all struggle with where the line between individual rights and corprate prosperity. You feel safer when more security is established at an airport or when you see a cop driving down the street, but when someone tries to tell you that you’d be better off without a disease-carrying, unnatural occurrance in your society, you puff up your chest and say “You’re infringing on human rights?” Government’s job is to infringe upon your rights in order to make your life easier and safer.

  30. skwerel says:

    note, please don’t think that I am just trying to make a point for or against homosexuality, the same applies in all things the government does… taxes, immigration laws, etc.

  31. sidfaiwu says:

    Hello J,

    Thanks for the references. That’ll give me more to read and learn about. I also managed to look up the information on Dr. Donald S. Lutz and CHarles S Hyneman. That’s why I didn’t bring them up in my post. It’s amazing the number of intellectual connections of the time. I’ll definitely be reading Montesquieu in the near future. My apologize for claiming they were obscure.

    It seems we are largely reaching agreement. I think we agree that:

    1. The founders identified themselves as Christian
    2. They founded a secular nation
    3. This nation was influenced by Christianity due to it being the religion of the majority throughout its history.
    4. The nation is and should remain secular to protect people of all beliefs

    Have I missed anything?

    Where we disagree is how much of the US government is based in ‘Christian principles’. The first problem with this, as highlighted in the article, is that there is no consensus as to what principles are Christian ones. The second problem is that many Christian principles are not unique to Christianity. The ones that are universally accepted cannot really be called ‘Christian principles’.

    Based on my reading of Locke, Jefferson, Franklin, and Paine, it is the universal moral principles, like freedom, equality, the accountability of authority, etc, that form the basis of our government. These universals are, of course, shared by Christianity, but they are not all of the principles of Christianity nor are they ones that can be claimed solely by Christians.

  32. skwerel says:

    regarding post 24. Note the following New Testament, Post-Christ and New Covenent passages referring to homosexuality as a sin:

    Romans 1:26-27
    1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    1 Timothy 1:9-10]

    also, one of the reasons that the old law was done away with by Christ was that the Pharisees had distorted it and added to it to the point of burdensomeness, to the point where it no longer protected, but instead made it impossible to live without breaking a law.

    In respose to 23: this is crossing the line that I described in 29 between human right and society’s benefit, and btw if you will take note of the restrictions laid out in Deut. on diet, you will find that most high cholesterol foods were indeed outlawed, ie pork etc.

    In response to 27: Those same people who burned witches came from a country that burned witches. The relationship between a man and a woman, sexually, is one that is natural and beautiful, while that between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is unnatural and, quite frankly, disturbing. Without getting to graphical, look at the way men and women were created. (or evolved, spawned, came into existance, etc etc) I’ll let you figure that one out… point being, sex is a beautiful thing if exercised in a monoganous, heterosexual manner. Whether you believe that aids and other STD’s are a curse of God on those who don’t follow His guidelines, it doesn’t take an idiot to figure out that the number of STD outbreaks would be drastically reduced if not eliminated, if unnatural sexual relationships where also eliminated.

    Seeing as to how off-topic this homosexuality discussion has become, I will now try to attempt to bring it back on topic… if anyone wishes to further discuss this topic elsewhere I would be more than willing to continue it, but for the purposes of this discussion, I think it wisest if we discontinue the debate over homosexuality, lest the adminisrators of this website become angry.

    This was not my initial intention by bringing up the subject, but it does tie in with the topic at hand. Homosexuality is a fine example of something that was outlawed in our nation origially (thus marriage between man and woman, etc etc) but has since begun to become accepted. The original laws were put into effect by the founding fathers with their christian backgrounds. Their opinions about the subject, and many others, were influenced upon by their beliefs, because when one believes fervently in something such as Christianity, everything that they do is affected by it. We have come to the conclusion that our nation was not founded as a Christian nation, but was founded under the influence of Christian principles. As more leaders came into power that do not hold to those underlying principles, I believe that we will continue to see more of our older laws die out, because the principles behind those laws are no longer held. This is known as the decay of society.

    I think that it can be assumed that not only is our nation not a “Christian Nation,” but as time goes on, we will slowly become less and less of a Christian nation as old morals become abandoned and human rights become more important than a society’s prosperity as a whole.

  33. skwerel says:

    +1 31 and sorry about the topic deviations.

  34. sidfaiwu says:

    Hello skwerel,

    The purpose of the freedom-restricting laws you site are in place to protect the rights of others. Murdering someone is denying them of their right to life. Speeding can potentially do the same. Rape denies the victim of his/her right to property (their own bodies) as does pedophilia.

    Homosexuality and consensual homosexual sex restricts no ones rights. Unlike the other behaviors mention above, homosexuality has no victims. No one is harmed.

    Damn it! Now I’ve been pulled off topic!

  35. skwerel says:

    so the only laws which should be in place are those in which there are victims? what about laws concerning drugs, truincy, jaywalking, immigration, consentual sex between minors and adults, etc? I really didn’t mean to simply restrict it to homosexuality, there are other examples as well.

  36. The relationship between a man and a woman, sexually, is one that is natural and beautiful, while that between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is unnatural and, quite frankly, disturbing.
    I don’t know, my lesbian roomate didn’t seem to think it was that unnatural or disturbing, didn’t really strike me as a crime against my being or my senses either.

    Whether you believe that aids and other STD’s are a curse of God on those who don’t follow His guidelines, it doesn’t take an idiot to figure out that the number of STD outbreaks would be drastically reduced if not eliminated, if unnatural sexual relationships where also eliminated.
    I could see this being a valid argument if it weren’t for the Africa issue. AIDS is massively prevalent there, while their rates for Homosexuality are some of the lowest in the world. What is the predominent cause of the spread as viewed by many experts? The fact that most western influence in the area is filtered through Christian Missions, which teach abstinence only programs and claim the use of condoms to be a mistaken practice. Abstinence classes don’t help. People still end up having sex, but they then do it without knowledge of safety precautions.

  37. sidfaiwu says:

    Hello skwerel,

    Again, I think we should consider any laws effect on freedom. You bring up some good examples that could bring this philosophical basis for law into question. In the case of drug laws, truancy laws, pedestrian laws, etc, there is a victim, and the victim is the self. Suicide laws also fall under this category. Should there be laws that protect people from themselves? Or, put another way, should we restrict the freedom of someone so they cannot restrict their own freedom? These are not easy to questions to answer. I think that when the victim is the self, the laws need to be nuanced. For instance, I believe people should be allowed to eat food full of fat every day even though they will likely make them selves victims of a heart attack. I aslo believe that people should not be allowed to kill them selves. It’s too permanent of a solution to what is likely a temporary problem. Where the line should be drawn is somewhere in the middle. Notice, though, that homosexuality doesn’t fall into this category. The self is not a victim. It is still utterly victimless.

    The case of consensual sex between an adult and minor is not victimless. The minor is, of course, the victim. This is because the minor is not capable of consenting. Their will is too easily subverted by the adult.

    I hope this makes sense. I was rushed when writing it because I’m late for a dinner party. I’ll see you all tomorrow!

  38. J says:

    sidfaiwu (post 31),
    I completely understand about Montesquieu, I had never heard of him either before I did a study on the DOI and Constitituion and the founders, etc. a couple of years ago. Thanks for bringing up the subject though, I havn’t been over this stuff for a couple of years and its great rehashing it.

    I think Skwerel put it best when he says,
    “Their opinions about the subject, and many others, were influenced upon by their beliefs, because when one believes fervently in something such as Christianity, everything that they do is affected by it. We have come to the conclusion that our nation was not founded as a Christian nation, but was founded under the influence of Christian principles. As more leaders came into power that do not hold to those underlying principles, I believe that we will continue to see more of our older laws die out, because the principles behind those laws are no longer held. This is known as the decay of society.” Especially the part about when someone believes in something it affects what they do. This is so true. We see it everywhere from art, politics, writing, to everyday actions. People operate based on their world view.

  39. stever says:

    Treaty of Tripoli, Aticle 11

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/diplomacy/barbary/bar1796t.htm

  40. Yeah, I always feel that one kinda sums it up.

  41. sidfaiwu says:

    Hello stever,

    From the article up top:

    “Often and especially online, this argument takes the form of a battle of quotes where each side takes things said by the founders out of context and uses them to support their own agenda. Both sides of the argument are guilty of this. Compellations of quotes in support of and against the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation can be found all across the web. This article will not use this method but instead rely on historical context and the founding documents as proof that the nation was founded as a secular one.”

    While the particular quote that you choose (which I was already aware of) is unambigous and even though I agree with the quote, the Treaty of Tripoli is not a founding document.

  42. J says:

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen”

    We have already been over this. It is not founded on the Christian religion directly but influenced strongly by Christian principles and Christian people.

    just because it is not against “muslims” does not mean that much.

    Also, you have to consider the fact that muslims hate the U.S. One of the reasons could, and probably is, Christianity.

  43. stever says:

    A discussion without citing what the founding fathers had to say about the subject seems rather futile. While the Treaty of Tripoli isn’t a founding document, it was approved by President John Adams (also a founding father) and passed unanimously by the Senate. Unanimous doesn’t imply to me that there was much debate on this shortly after the birth of the nation.

    We could discuss the overlap in a few principles concerning the U.S. Constitution/DoI with the bible.

    Don’t murder.
    Don’t steal.

    These principles are hardly the signature of biblical influence. I think most would agree that these are conducive to society in general and can be linked with any number of other governments and religions predating Christianity.

  44. J says:

    stever…
    for an answer to your post…read the rest of the posts, mine on number 5 is a response to this statement. There is a little more involved than the “don’t murder/steal.”

  45. stever says:

    Thanks J, I have read the posts and reread #5.

    My point above with reference to the “Don’t steal” and “Don’t murder” is that there aren’t any uniquely Christian principles here. Surely if Christianity was so influential in the founding of the country we would see some distinct trace of it? Explain to us what the _unique_ Christian principles are in the founding documents. Maybe Liberty? Does the bible instruct equal rights to all of us that do not believe? For every citation you can give, there is one to counter.

    In addition to personal correspondence of the founders,
    George Washington, President John Adams, and a unanimous Senate addressed the issue head on shortly after the country was established. Such a statement addresses the world when putting forth the treaty of Tripoli. The U.S. was not founded, in any sense, on the religion of Christianity. Not only was it not directly founded, it wasn’t founded “in any sense.” The “in any sense” part doesn’t leave much room for the possibility.

  46. erin says:

    The Founding Father were not Christians, most of them were agnostic or atheists!!!!!

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