Is America a Christian nation?
Comments from the Founders say that it is.
In the fall of 2010, not only did President Obama state that the United States was not a Christian nation; he also left out a few crucial words when he quoted from our Declaration of Independence. He said:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are equal with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Of course, these are not the words Thomas Jefferson wrote when he penned the Declaration of Independence. He wrote the following words (the ones in bold print are the ones Obama left out):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
For those of us who understand and value our history, it becomes imperative that we be able to understand and defend the Judeo-Christian principles this country was founded upon – that is if we wish to keep it Judeo-Christian. While throughout this article we will be referring to this country as being “Christian” it is necessary to understand that the Christian principles being discussed were first established in the Mosaic code. Therefore, while it is more accurate to say this is a Judeo-Christian nation, the common terminology is to refer to the United States as a Christian nation. It is the term our founders used and it will be the term used in this article, with proper acknowledgment being given that these principles were established in the Torah well before the advent of Christianity,
There are four distinctive principles that our founders understood that are evident in a large number of their quotes and in our foundational documents. Only the first two will be discussed in this article. They are:
- God is the author of our rights;
- Governments are instituted to protect our God-given rights;
- Man has a fallen nature; and
- Liberty cannot survive in a godless country.
In the Magna Carta of 1215, the king granted certain limited rights to citizens. In our Declaration of Independence, our founders declared that our rights come from God and not government. In contrast to the Magna Carta, our people grant limited powers to the government. This is a significant change in the hierarchy of power. Our founders continued further and clearly stated the principles of points one and two above in our Declaration:
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among them, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them…
The document goes on to specifically state what their reasons were, but they established their principle for separation clearly on the authority that comes from God and not man. When the President took God out of the equation, he transferred the author of our rights from God back to government. This is more than an insult to God and Christianity; it represents a significant change in the ideology of government. If we accept this change, then no longer can we argue that our representatives serve at our invitation or that we have “inalienable rights” that government can not intrude upon. Government then steps up to the plate and replaces God as the giver of our rights and in so doing, has the authority to decide what those rights are and what they are not.
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This point is so significant that it cannot be over-emphasized. In all other governments throughout the world, those in power control the rights of their citizens; in the USA, the rights of the people come from God and not government. It is important to understand that if our rights come from God and not from man or government, man or government does not have the authority to deprive us of our rights. Consequently, a government that rules by the consent of the governed cannot enslave its citizens – this is necessary if we are to retain our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our founders understood this to such a degree that when they wrote our Constitution, they designed a government with enumerated and limited powers. Noah Webster said:
The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles…This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.
Thomas Jefferson said:
Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?
And John Hancock said it with a little more passion:
Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual…Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.
As designed, our government can continue only so long as the standard of right and wrong rests upon a universal moral code. That universal moral code was and is the Bible. Without such a standard, then government ultimately has to step in and decide what is right and wrong. In the process it will inevitably violate the conscience of some while imposing the conscience of others upon us. Consequently, restrictive laws will need to be written as everyone does what is right in their own eyes. Should this happen, either the government steps in and legislates morality or a state of chaos and anarchy is born and tyranny will soon follow. James Madison drew a good balance when he stated,
If men were angles, we would have no need of government.
Is it any wonder that as faith in God and His Word is marginalized in the United States that government grows to fill the gap? For those living in the 21st century and who value our god-given rights, we would be wise to heed the words of John Hancock quoted above.
It is appropriate to end this part of the series with the words of John Adams:
Our Constitution was designed for a moral and religious people…it is wholly inadequate to govern any other.
If our government has become inadequate, then perhaps we should be looking more to ourselves than to our legislators.