The Christian Nation Myth
or Why Can’t We Be More Like the Iroquois?
We so often hear the argument that this is a nation, “built on Christian principals.” It’s an argument frequently used by those who would tear down the wall of separation of church and state. Well, okay, maybe not the whole wall. Just the half that keeps religion out of government.
A recent example of this was when the 9th circuit court determined that the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag is unconstitutional as it currently stands since Congress unlawfully inserted the monotheistic ideal that we are a nation “under God,” in 1954. There were editorials, speeches, sound bites and motions on the floor of Congress all calling the decision “ridiculous” and “nuts” among other things. Most of these reactionary lampoons noted that the founding fathers were Christian men who founded this nation on Christian principals.
Well, there is no doubt that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were, or at least considered themselves to be Christian men. But does this mean that the country was founded on Christian Principals? I would submit that it does not. Certainly the same Declaration and Constitution could have been drawn up by devout Jews or Muslims or even atheists. In fact, there is strong evidence that the Constitution is just a slightly modified rewording of the Constitution of the Iroquois Nation. Did the Iroquois pattern their foundation on Christian ideals?
The fact is that some ideals are universal. Take the Golden Rule for example. There are versions of that sentiment which clearly predate Jesus. It is found in Janism, Buddhism, Judaism and many other pre-Christian religions. Arguably, the idea that one should “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the very basis of civilization.
However, there is a more definite argument that the U.S. government is not built on Christian principals. The simple fact is that the laws of the Christian Bible frequently conflict with the laws of our land. I’m not talking about recent laws here. Obviously the idea of legalized abortion is not in keeping with the biblical edict to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen. 1:22) Nor is it compatible with, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” ( Jer 1:5 ) Yet I am not talking about 20th century alterations to the legal code. I’m not even speaking of changes made in the 19th century. Therefore the fact that the Bible says that a slave should obey and fear his master (1 Peter 2:18) and Jesus tells slaves not to malign their masters (Matthew 10:24-25) is not a point that I wish to harp on regardless of the fact of the existence of the 13th Amendment, since that Amendment did not come about until late in 1865. No, I am speaking of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; the triumvirate of principals that formed the basis for our nation.
There is little doubt that the Holy Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, is the embodiment of Christian Principals. Also there is little doubt that the above mentioned triumvirate constitutes the foundation for the principals of American government. Consequently, an examination and comparison of particulars in the two document sets should be a fair way to determine if the country we live in was in fact founded on Christian Principals.
The Bible several times mentions of the Ten Commandments. They vary slightly from mention to mention, but one constant is the commandment that “thou shalt not kill.” Yet the Constitution grants Congress the right to “declare War,” (Article 1 section 8) (this article is also in opposition to Matthew 26:52) and to the states it grants the right to Capital punishment (Amendment 5.)
According to the Bible, Jesus said that a man should have his first loyalty to God, and that any who argue otherwise should be forsaken (Luke 12:51-2.) Yet the Declaration of Independence ends with the words, “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” Incidentally, even having a sacred honor is un-Biblical. “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.” (Prov. 11:2)
Then there’s the fact that according to Jesus, the meek “shall inherit the Earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Well, Declaration declares that all men are created equal and that the right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable, but according to Christ, only the meek are favored by God. This is further complicated by the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment and the establishment of the elitist Central Bank and the Capitalist System which clearly favors the strong. However, since these latter developments are not canonical to the triumvirate, it can be argued that this is irrelevant to our discussion.
The entire judicial branch established in the third Article to the Constitution flies in the face of, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged, Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you shall be forgiven.” ( Luke 6: 37 )
The fourth Amendment as well as much of the Declaration of Independence is in conflict with Jesus’ directive to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s.” (Luke 20:25)
The eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment is a little vague, but I would maintain that it conflicts with the books of Judges, Leviticus and Deuterotomy. Not to mention what happened in Sodom and Gomorra.
Finally, since the Bible is said to be perfect, and if this country was founded on those perfect principals, why then would the founding fathers see the need to include the Fifth Article granting Congress the right to amend the Constitution at all?
Having therefore proven that this is not in fact a Christian nation, I would like to point out that neither is it an atheist nation. It is a nation founded on religious neutrality. A nation that admits no particular God as the sovereign over all of its people, but allows those people to determine for themselves which God or gods (if any) they choose to recognize as their personal sovereigns. And God love the founding fathers for it.