Monday, May 14, 2012

The United States Government: Secular or Christian?

By: Matthew Chatterton

It is often claimed by American Christians that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Some of them genuinely believe that. Others, however, are simply aiming to legitimize attempts to introduce their religiosity into legislation. Every now and then, they'll even say that the founding fathers were Christian. Now, we can simply reference the founding fathers to fact-check. Let us ask the founding fathers if that's true.

Founding Father's on Religion:

  • "Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies." - Thomas Jefferson
  • "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." - Thomas Jefferson
  • "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes" - Thomas Jefferson
  • "In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people." - James Madison
  • "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." - Benjamin Franklin
  • "I beg you be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution." - George Washington
  • "The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity." - John Adams

It seems quite clear that the founding fathers had a disdain for theocracy.

The Treaty of Tripoli:

The last quote is from John Adams. John Adams signed a peace treaty between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary in 1796. Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli states,

"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 tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] 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."

It says right there, in a document signed by founding father and second president, John Adams, that America was not founded on the Christian religion.

Separation of Church and State:

Christians will often state, "'Separation of church and state' appears nowhere in the US constitution." That is actually true. The first amendment instead reads,

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

If the underlined portion of the first amendment doesn't mean "separation of church and state", what does it mean? Where did we get that phrase from? In a letter in 1802, founding father and third president, Thomas Jefferson, wrote a letter to baptists in Danbury, Connecticut. In that letter, he referenced the first amendment saying,

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

These are the words of one of the most influential founding fathers of the United States.


It is clear that the United States of America was not founded as a Christian nation. Why is it that theocrats will lie about this? Many people hold the founding fathers up as great philosophers and pioneers of an unprecedented degree of freedom and liberty. If the theocrats could claim them as their own, that would give them an advantageous position as well as being perceived as already being the norm or "American". If the theocrats could actually succeed in making Christian rule appear "American", they could trick many voters into voting against the ideals of the founding fathers.

All it takes are persistent liars and their victims. I aim to shine light on the truth.

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