Christian Nation? 18 Reasons Why the USA Doesn’t Fit the Label

SharePinEmailIf you ask Americans which religion is synonymous with their nation, the majority will say Christianity. Most Americans indeed identify as Christian today, totaling two-thirds of America’s adult population. But America has never been a Christian nation, despite popular belief. Here are 18 reasons why the USA cannot be classed as a Christian nation. The…

If you ask Americans which religion is synonymous with their nation, the majority will say Christianity. Most Americans indeed identify as Christian today, totaling two-thirds of America’s adult population. But America has never been a Christian nation, despite popular belief. Here are 18 reasons why the USA cannot be classed as a Christian nation.

The First Amendment

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The First Amendment of the US Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Many colonists settled in America to escape religious restrictions so religious liberty needed to be sought in “the land of the free”. The First Amendment made it clear that the government was not aligned with any religion and that no religion would be preferred over another. 

Separation of Church and State

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Thomas Jefferson famously included the paraphrase “separation of church and state” when discussing the First Amendment. Some colonists understood the need for religious freedom due to the persecution they had personally faced, yet some groups, such as Puritans, were pushing for a fully Puritan country. Jefferson made this comment to the nation to stop a push for religious conformity.

Free Exercise Clause

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As part of the First Amendment, there is a clause that enhances the right to practice any religion. The free exercise clause ensures that the government will never support one religion over the other, ensuring that the government does not encourage or stop anyone from practicing the religion of their choice.

Founding Fathers

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The Founding Fathers are not thought to be traditionally religious. Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, and Madison are all considered to be “Deists”, believing in the fundamental teachings of Christianity yet rejecting miracles and revelation in favor of reason. 

Founding Documents

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The Founding Documents of the United States do not mention Christianity concerning the laws of the nation. It was intended from the beginning that America was to be a secular country and possessed secular governance. With many of the Founding Fathers practicing Deism and disbelieving in the miracles of Jesus Christ, complete religious freedom was a necessity of the US Constitution.

Religious Pluralism

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In a culturally diverse society such as America, religious pluralism is required, gathering together many people to form one nation. Religious pluralism intends to ensure one religious group does not dominate the rest. In this way, people from all countries and any religious observance could settle in America without fear of persecution.

Secular Laws

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The American legal system is secular, focusing on secular principles and the right way for people to act in society as opposed to how God wants us to act. This is a further extension of the separation between the church and the state in America.

Secular Education

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Public education in America is secular, reinforcing the separation of the church and the state across the nation. No public school is allowed to promote any religious doctrine and must remain religiously neutral. Private schools can endorse religion, however.

The Treaty of Tripoli

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Signed in 1797, Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli states that, “The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” The purpose of the treaty was to protect America from Muslim Barbary pirates and secure rights related to commercial shipping. The treaty was drafted and Signed by Joel Barlow who did not think kindly of any religion. He stated elsewhere that Christianity “had committed greater ravages than any other religion”, stating that the “cross of the west… was the wandering demon of carnage.”

Non-Christian Foundations

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Whilst the majority of settlers to the colonies were denominations of Christianity, there were elements of Deism and Enlightenment followers, as well as smaller influences of Judaism and Islam. The early settlers were a true mixture of religions, with the additional influence of the indigenous population who brought forward their own complex array of religions.

American Diversity

Today, America is a diverse country consisting of 3.45 million American Muslims along with 5.8 million American Jews. The influence of other religions provides a rich tapestry for Americans to thrive.

Declining Christianity

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In the 1990s, over 90% of Americans identified as Christian, but Christianity in America is in decline. Today, this number has dropped to a staggering level of only two-thirds of the American population. Interestingly, the cause of the decline is mainly due to a rise in secularism as opposed to other religions.

Secularist Rise

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Almost a third of Americans are non-religious, stating that they are not affiliated with any organized religion and lead a secular lifestyle. These individuals are labeled as ‘nones’. The number of Americans identifying as ‘nones’ has grown dramatically over recent decades, with over a quarter of people now following no religion.

Political Alignment

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Often, American politics blur the line between church and state separation. The Republican party typically represents Christian values and attracts many Christian Voters, whereas many atheists are interested in the Democratic party. A vast difference in political alignment is one thing in a secular society but would be questionable in a Christian country.

Civil Rights

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The infamous Civil Rights movement was driven by morals and ethics, instilling the right way to treat others in American society under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Similar movements today are not focused on religion but are motivated by secular values, creating a fair and just society for all.

Secular Culture

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American culture is undoubtedly secular, influenced by a powerful media and an occasional anti-Christian bias. Together with a secular education, young Americans are faced with an unapologetic secular society and cultural influences.

Civic Institutions

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Civic institutions across America provide secular leadership and are independent of any religion. They do not promote Christianity nor any other religion whilst their officials must remain religiously neutral at all times.

Supreme Court Rulings

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Whenever Supreme Court rulings are made, they refer to the US Constitution and abide by the First Amendment. This means that the secular identity of America is upheld along with the wall of separation between the church and the state.

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