What is with all the public references to Christian religion? In reality, those that would argue against the United States being a Christian nation would have a hard time proving it to anyone on the outside.
From the outside, foreigners believe that we have strange, puritanical beliefs compared to the “free” Western societies.
But, one does not have to go to the effort of asking a foreigner– just look at some examples of a society that proclaims that America at least was Christian:
The history of America’s laws, its constitutional system, the reason for the American Revolution, or the basis of its guiding political philosophy cannot accurately be discussed without reference to its biblical roots. Every President, from George Washington to George Bush, has placed his hand on a Bible and asked for the protection of God upon taking office. Both Houses of Congress open each daily session with a prayer. The phrase “In God We Trust” is emblazoned on all U.S. currency. Witnesses are expected to swear on a Bible before testifying in a court of law. The Christian Sabbath is a national day of rest; many states restrict the sale of liquor and the operation of restaurants on the Lord’s Day in order to encourage religious worship and time spent at home. A government official opens each day’s session of the Supreme Court with the plea, “God save the United States and the Honorable Court.” The Ten Commandments appear on the wall above the head of the Chief Justice in the Supreme Court; which is ironic when one considers that it is this very judicial body that declared it unconstitutional for states to do the same in the public schools. These laws and customs all have their origins in America’s Christian past and provide a clue as to the assumptions guiding the creation of America’s form of government, assumptions the founding fathers had about man’s nature, his place in eternity, and the character of the God to whom he is accountable. It is these ultimate concerns that determine the shape of society.
So you see, the argument that we are a secular society must rest squarely on the absence of God in the Constitution, but a quick glance of what was important to the founders and what was ruled into law and practice is more important.
Look at the kinds of things the early Federal government did and what the founders said and you will see a group of people that believed that the Christian God was God. They may have differed on which religious sect should be in charge– and why shouldn’t they? Most of them had escaped from a land that was persecuting a certain sect because another was in power. At that time, a majority of the states had a state church– preferences given though there was freedom for all.
To the people of the time, there was no difference in who to worship, just how. There was a desire that the federal government stay out of the states’ affairs and for a weak federal government. One of the problems that we have in trying to understand the problem is that we see the Federal government as it is now– strong, with far reaching tentacles. That, I believe, is not what the Founders intended.
Take a look– the evidences of our Christian heritage are all around. What we will become, though is still up for grabs as more of that heritage is removed.