There is no doubt that the founding population and culture of America was Christian. A quick search shows that the majority of the founders made definite statements about their religious beliefs, Roger Sherman (signer of the Continental Association, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and the Constitution) went so far as to lay out his personal creed leaving no doubt to his religious affiliation. Two are questionable, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
While I’m sure both considered themselves Christians and were definitely “cultural Christians” they both had doubts about the divinity of Christ. If Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, then he wasn’t the Christ, without Christ you have no Christianity. However, I’m less interested in their salvation than I am the following idea:
“But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
Jefferson from Notes on the State of Virginia
I disagreee with Jefferson, but I live in a “post-Christian” America with a muslim President who supports terrorists who kill Christians and a Congress/ media/education system who censors, if not outright bans, Christianity in public . Jefferson, on the other hand, lived in a nation of “cradle Christians” where even somebody who questions the divinity of Jesus Christ still held to the moral codes. Living in that society and fighting for independence from a monarchy with a corrupt hierarchical Church, like he did, I can see the temptation to say, “no organised religion, ever!” Its seems to be human nature to swing too far one way and then too far the other and Jefferson, sadly, has some of the qualities of the Ivory Tower intellectual. He never did any real work, spent most of his life in debt and there’s no evidence I can find of any business acumen. He was a lawyer and a theorist.
While he didn’t write the 1st Ammendment, his Statute of Religious Freedom (1777) influenced the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses, the main support for nonChristian religions’ legal equality (and soon superiority) with Christianity.
If immigration had remained largely Christian Europeans and had Lincoln’s war not happened, it would probably never have been a problem and any problem that might have arisen would have been mitigated by those States that did mandate Christianity for public office, like NC.
The problem is the relativism. A few muslims or satanists or whatever minding their own business aren’t a problem until they are in a position to influence and interpret laws, especially if they adhere to a system that demands dominance, like islam and secular humanism do. Unless you can publicly state that one thing is better than the other and then demand adherence to the better, you have no basis to reject a Presedential candidate who supports islam. All you have are economic arguments which, as we’ve seen, aren’t enough.
On this subject, too, we see the negative influence of unfettered immigration. If immigration had been restricted to those countries that are culturally similar to us we would have less problems, but we would still have communists and secular humanists. If immigration had been restricted to just professing Christians from cultural similar countries, we would have even less problems.
Alternatively, if the Constitution had been consecrated to the Christian God and had Christianity been named as the basis for its interpretation while restricting elected office to professing Christians, as several States did, it would be simpler to refute bad social policies. It wouldn’t necessarily have solved all of our problems, there are plenty of socialist Christians for instance, but it would have pretty much closed government to islam and atheism.
Opponents to the intent of the Constitution have used it’s freedoms of speech, religion, assembly and petition to reinterpret the document itself. Going back to colonial America, we see a largely homogenous culture. They shared mostly common values and ideals. The large amount of freedoms “guaranteed” by the Constitution work fine in that society. When society began to lose that homogenity and competing values were introduced, those freedoms began to diminish since there is no real guarantee of them. Islam’s allah doesn’t guarantee the right to free speech, religion and assembly, but muslims use these rights to restrict yours.
In the end, it all comes down to culture. If you have a unified culture, you have a lot of leeway in governing and can enjoy freedom. If your society is made up of several different cultures, peace and freedom will be lost. Do you want to argue with each other over details or foundational ideas and beliefs?
So, living in a society which generally held Christian morals and having participated in a struggle for independence against a monarch and a corupt Church, the enlightenment influenced theorist chose a libertarian approach to religion and government.
The US was founded by Christians, but not necessarily for Christians.
My Bill Monroe 4 disc set just arrived and I have lost all interest in this subject so I leave you with this:
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. -Psalm 146:3