One thing that I’ve taken upon myself is the question, “Are we a christian nation?”
Of course when I was an un-questioning christian, I believed that without a doubt America is a “christian” nation. This was another thing that I believed without doing any research whatsoever. I just took other peoples word for it. Assuming it was true since the majority of Americans at least claim to be a christian, even if they only go to church twice a year or live their lives like there is no god. Why would a believer that questions nothing think otherwise?
So one evening after hearing yet another christian make the claim, I decided to start my own research into the founding of the nation. Why did the founders decide to get away from Europe and start this whole thing? Who were the founders exactly? What does our Constitution actually have to say about religion, or for that matter christianity specifically? Since the claim is our country is a “christian” nation.
My first order of business was to read the constitution all the way through. As I was reading through it, it made me realize how much had to go into framing the country. I really can’t imagine all they had to go through. The level of detail in setting up the branches is amazing. It almost made me forget what I was looking for in it. But I did finally come across a couple mentions about religion.
The first being in Article VI: Paragraph III. No Religious Test Clause. It states “but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The Wiki link above says it all. Basically no religion or doctrine will be required to hold public office. This was important as the Church of England excluded anyone not part of their religion from holding government office. So hats off for this Clause.
The second mention is Amendment I stating “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”.
Here I see a good argument for the separation of church and state and keeping religion out of government. In other words, don’t use religion to determine how laws are made and don’t force others into a particular religion they may not agree with.
I also see that people should be free to exercise their religion. I have no problem with that. Just don’t force your beliefs and faith on to others who may not agree. What you do in your church is your business, so long as what you do is legal. Public forums or property is not the place for religion. I respect your right to believe, worship and (Freedom Of Religion). I ask that you respect my right to be (Free From Religion). And don’t use my tax dollars, public tax dollars for religiously based programs.
I also understand that a religion may require certain conduct or days of dedication to worship from a follower. Some of them conflicting with work schedules on work days. I guess take that up with your place of employment. The wiki page I found says that religious folks have taken their employers to court and won over their religion/ employment situations. I guess at the moment I would have to concede that is your right in accordance to the constitution. I respect your right to observe your religion on its given day. I wish non-believers were shown the same respect. That we simply want respect and consideration, even though we may not believe the same way you do.
These are the ONLY two mentions about religion that I found in our United States Constitution. I see no mention that America is a christian nation. On the contrary, the statement of freedom of religion says to me, freedom from religion. And I am just as American as the most devout religious person is. I mean I currently serve in the U.S. Navy. I served in Iraq. And I have to say that I am quite proud of that fact. I love America. And no one can ever take away from me the fact that I served my country in the most devout way. I raised my hand to serve my country. I put myself in harms way to protect the freedoms of religion and from religion that we all share. I know that troops going to Iraq is a whole other issue. But all I can say is my country called me and I answered. And I am still proud to have served.
So looking at the U.S. constitution alone, I see nothing that says we are a christian nation. But that we are truly free to chose a religion or to be non-religious. The fathers really knew what they were doing. In an upcoming post I will go into exactly who the fathers of the nation were. I know that some were strong christians and some were not. It is just interesting to get the facts about exactly who the individuals were and what they believed to their core.