Monday, December 27, 2010

Are we a 'Christian' nation?

Ever since 9-11, many Americans want to distinguish our country from those Muslim countries that harbor terrorists by claiming the U.S. is a Christian nation.

Oh, really.

First off, there is nothing in our Constitution or Declaration of Independence that says we are a "Christian" nation.

Yes, most Americans identify themselves as Christian, but that still does not make us a "Christian" nation.

America was founded on the ideal of religious freedom because the First Amendment (sorry NRA, the "right to bear arms" doesn't show up until the Second Amendment) to our Constitution is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

This First Amendment means that Americans enjoy freedom "of" religion and freedom "from" religion being imposed upon them. And that includes Christianity.

Of course, within Christianity we have Catholics who believe they are the original Christians, we have Baptists who believe that there is no way in hell that Catholics can make it to heaven and we have Mormons who believe that your marriage carries on after you die in heaven.

Let's just say that Christians don't exactly see eye to eye regarding matters of Christianity.

Any student with a thumbnail-size grasp of history knows that religion has more often been a cause of strife than of harmony. This is not to say that religions don't do good work. They do, just not when they're running a country.

Protestants and Catholics couldn't even agree on the wording in the Bible until King James I of England convened a conference in 1604 to reconcile differences between the two camps and in seven long years they had a new Bible.

And, let's not forget all the wars between Catholics and Protestants after the Reformation. Again, Christians vs. Christians.

Now, we have fundamentalist Muslims waging war not just against the "Christian" west, but also among each other. Shiite and Sunni mirror the ridiculous and tragic conflicts in the Christian camp.

Of course, when all else fails, Christians and Muslims unite in their distrust of the Jews.

In short order, basing a country on any religion is a recipe for disaster.

Can anyone say that Israel or Northern Ireland or Iraq are models of peace and prosperity?

So, it is disconcerting that so many Christians want to impose a religion on our country when our Founding Fathers had the good sense to frame our Constitution against such a concept.

Of course, many Christians claim that the Founding Fathers never said we aren't a Christian nation.

That's true.

It's also true that they never said we "are a Christian nation."

In fact, their are papers and treaties that say religion should have no role in our government.

Want some proof?

Well, check out the treaty between the U.S. and the "subjects of Tripoli" on the Barbary coast of Africa.

Article 11 reads: As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

This treaty was read aloud in its entirety on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1797 and unanimously approved. President John Adams signed it and proudly proclaimed it to the nation.

John Adams is known as one of the "Founding Fathers."

So is Thomas Jefferson, another "Founding Father," who wrote, in 1802, to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptists of "the wall of separation between church and state."

Read about it here from the Library of Congress.

As I've written on this blog before, no religion can lay claim to the moral high ground.

That is why the United States is a nation of laws and common sense.

We don't need any religion to tell us that it is wrong to hijack our jets and crash them into the World Trade Center killing thousands of innocent people.

Likewise, we don't need any religion to tell us it is wrong to blame all practitioners of Islam for those terrible attacks in 2001.

We are Americans. We don't need any religion to tell us right from wrong.

I hope.

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