Monday, November 15, 2021

Anonymous Asks (171)

“Is the United States a Christian nation?”

I have commented before that the word “Christian” makes a poor adjective. It doesn’t tell you much that is useful. I have seen lies, error and heresy on sale in “Christian” bookstores, false believers in “Christian” youth groups, and atheists playing “Christian” rock.

Christianity is just not something you can ascribe to groups, especially groups as large as a nation. One becomes a Christian by trusting Jesus Christ for salvation and recognizing him as Lord. Groups can do all kinds of things an individual can’t, but only individuals can be saved.

So what is really being asked here? Here are a few possibilities:

Was the U.S. Founded by Christians?

Were the founding fathers genuinely Christian? Books have been written on the subject from both sides, but the founders are long dead and we cannot ask them to tell us. Many of the founders used language we find in our Bibles, but we cannot say with any certainty what they meant by these terms, and there is no guarantee they meant the same things we mean when we use them. There are also bits of historical evidence floating around that contradict the “Christian founders” narrative and make some out to be apostles of the Enlightenment, secularists, Freemasons and who knows what else.

The fact is that this question hardly matters today. Whatever the beliefs of America’s founders, generations have come and gone since they did anything to shape the moral character of America’s citizens or make the laws that govern them.

Was the U.S. Founded on Biblical Principles?

The Declaration of Independence uses language like “Nature’s God” and “their Creator”, from whom flows “certain inalienable rights”. Rights may be inferred from the Bible as part of any just society, but they are not the expectation of Christians. The assertion that “all men are created equal” is false, and has led to all kinds of disappointments and frustrated expectations. All men are equally accountable to God and should be treated equally before the law, but beyond that, men and women are manifestly unequal when judged by just about every other metric: wisdom, piety, strength, development of character, intelligence, ability to self-determine, value to society — you name the standard, we are unequal. That language certainly didn’t come from the Bible, which says next to nothing about equality.

The only mention of religion in the U.S. Constitution is to ensure no religious qualifications are required in order to run for elected office at any level. That sounds more secular than Christian, frankly.

The Bill of Rights prohibits the establishment of a state religion. This means that while Christianity could never be declared the official religion of the U.S., neither could Islam, Catholicism, Buddhism or any other religion. That is probably just as well.

The Declaration at least assumes the existence and sovereignty of God, but does not describe him or name him as the God of the Bible. There are no doubt principles of fairness and due process underlying all three documents, many of which could be said to have been derived from scripture.

Nevertheless, there is nothing explicitly Christian about the documents on which the U.S. is founded. At best we might say they are vaguely Christianized.

Does the U.S. Govern Itself in a Christian Way Today?

Let’s leave aside every other unchristian act of which the U.S. has ever been accused, including the invasion of other nations and the murder of their defenseless citizens, institutionalizing slavery, engaging in civil war, or oppressing indigenous peoples: No nation can claim to be a Christian nation that has legally enshrined the right to murder an unborn child and permitted over 63,000,000 abortions within its borders in the last fifty years, let alone promoted abortion all over the world with American taxpayer dollars. This is abject wickedness. Like all Western countries, America courts the judgment of God with such policies. There is nothing Christian about them.

Moreover, America is not even a nation at this point, at least not in the original meaning of the word. “Nation” originally denoted “a family or race of men descended from a common progenitor, like tribe”. This may have been roughly true of the U.S. at the time its founding documents were written, but has never been less true than today. Technically, today’s U.S. is an aggregate of many competing nationalities and interests. We might call it an empire, republic, state or maybe even nation-state, but America can only be called a nation today by abandoning etymology entirely.

So no, the United States is neither Christian, nor a nation.

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