Monday, July 13, 2009

Founded on Christianity? I Think Not

Time and again many religious conservatives invoke a most fallacious claim in defense of their ideologically bankrupt perspectives regarding the founding of our nation. If it has in fact been long-settled that the United States was founded precisely upon secular precepts, why do claims that our nation was founded on Christianity persist?

It is likely many of these arguments stem from the notion that the vast majority of early American settlers were indeed Christians. Much of what they were looking to escape from was in fact religious persecution. However, it was persecution from other religious groups they were seeking freedom from.

Nine of the thirteen original colonies did in fact establish official state churches. But as time went on, the same kind of persecution they had fled in Europe began to surface in the colonies. People fled from one colony to another in search of the freedom to practice the kind of faith they believed in. When the colonies morphed into the original United States of America, a conspicuously secular governing constitution was conceived. Nowhere is there a mention of a god. Further, the First Amendment to the Constitution specifically prohibits the making of any law which either establishes a religion or prohibits the free exercise of religion.

The important distinction to be made is that while the original New World settlers were indeed very religious people, it was a secular ideology which enabled the notion of free religious expression to thrive when the colonies later united to form the nation-state of America.

It's not complicated.

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