There is no denying that the United States has a long historical and cultural connection to the Christian religion. From the pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth Rock to the Declaration of Independence, many of our predecessors, founders, politicians and platitudes have been directly influenced by the Christian values of Great Awakening ideals. But does this cultural history with the divine make this a “Christian” nation, as so many politicians, pastors and constituents seem to believe? In a word, no.
Of the myriad arguments proposed against a secular state, one of the most popular is the assertion that the founders of the nation were practicing Christians. There are two easy counters to this claim. The first and most apparent is that it simply is not the case. Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were certainly members of various Christian denominations. However, several were deists (a deist is one who believes in a creator deity, but not one who intervenes in human affairs). Some, like John Adams, took extremely critical views of religion in general. According to FreeThought.com Adams once said "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it."
The second counter-argument that comes to mind is this: the religious beliefs of the founding fathers is irrelevant. The personal opinions on morality and science of slave owners who believed that “bleeding” was an effective way of treating illness (this is how Washington died) have absolutely no bearing on the modern law of the land. The legal documents of this country determine what law is. Subjective, second-hand, often misquoted remarks do not. This brings up the topic of legal documents.
Many proponents of a Christian government point to the inclusion of the phrase “…endowed by their creator…” in the Constitution as evidence of the theological basis for the nation. The problem with this argument should be clear. “Creator” cannot be said definitively to equal “the Christian God, as defined by (insert one of 30,000-plus denominations here).” In fact, neither reference to any particular deity, nor the sovereignty thereof is mentioned in the Constitution of the United States. Furthermore, no reference of the aforementioned appear in any founding or legal document from that time. Conversely, the Treaty of Tripoli, signed in 1796, states explicitly that the United States is, “…not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." The evidence, in our legal documents, that this is a Christian nation simply does not exist. Our constitution, specifically the first amendment, does guarantee freedom of religion, but prohibits the formation of a state religion. It must be understood that freedom of religion must include freedom from religion. Otherwise, the distinction is nothing more than pretty words and meaningless platitudes.
It is also important to note that religion in general and Christianity specifically are completely incompatible with democracy and American ideals. Romans 13-17 explicitly states that one is not to stand against the established authority of a region. According to the verses, God has personally selected those who rule, so to question their authority is to question the authority of God himself. Had the founders taken this advice, there certainly could have been no revolution against the English crown. Washington et al kicked God out of the government the day they established the United States of America.
Finally, many argue that the Constitution is based on the ten commandments of the Old Testament, laid out in Exodus (they make no mention of the other 603 commandments, which forbid, among many other arbitrary things, the consumption of shellfish). However, when examined, it can only be found that two of those have found their way into American law: don’t kill, don’t steal (nothing on rape, strangely). Most of the others are simply commands to praise one particular God. I would even argue that “thou shalt not covet…” flies in the face of the capitalist system of economics, which many proponents of theocracy avow. So is the U.S. a Christian nation? According to both the Constitution and the Bible, the answer is a resounding “No”.