Help, please...Is this a Christian Nation?

Anyone want in on this? I’m having an email debate with someone who is insisting to me that the United States is a “Christian Nation”. He does not mean there are a lot of Christians, he means that it is hunky dory for the president and the government to talk about Christianity and support Christianity specifically as, well, the state religion, because the government was “founded on Christian principles, and we are a Christian Nation.” N ot that people have to be Christian, just that we all have to put up with the idea that our govt. is supposedly “Christian”. I asked him to provide examples of what principles we were founded upon that are exclusive to Christianity, vs. principles that appear in some form in every major and most of the minor religions of the world, as well as among decent people everywhere who are not religious.

There’s more, and I’m working on it, but I wanted to throw this into the ring for my favorite debaters (and some of the smartest people I’ve ever met) to take a swipe at… thanks in advance.

Also, part of the debate became “What is a true Christian?” and my POV was…no one can say because there is too much dissention in the ranks, it’s personal, fatih isn’t science, etc. His position is: “I can say, others can say, and many are not, including Catholics”.

Again, more to follow but I have to run. I shall return.

Funny how those types are more than happy to include Catholics when they’re talking “# of Christians worldwide” (otherwise Islam becomes the largest single religion), but want to exclude them when it comes down to cases.

Bill of Rights
Amendment I

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.

(bolding mine)
Seems pretty clear to me.

I believe it was founded on christian ideals.
What of inaleinable rights?
Who gave those rights?
a buncha people standing around?
God gave us the right to things.
We don’t get to vote on them.

Too bad God didn’t bother to give those rights to blacks until much later. I guess the economic value of slavery was more powerful than God?

Well a good starting point is to point out several of the Founding Fathers were deists and didn’t believe in the Christian church at all.
Good quote mining
The average founding father would be more comfortable chatting up an atheist then a fundamentalist.

I didn’t see god lift a finger. Seems more like all those people that stood up and said a human being shouldn’t be treated this way and died for it. (well except for them blacks and women folk which should illustrate it was humans granting those rights not the spirit in the sky)

The Declaration of Independence attributes those rights to a Creator. To most of the world’s population, Creator does not equal Christ. The Declaration’s primary author, Thomas Jefferson, said :“I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other.”

But the Declaration of Independence is not the document that governs the United States. That would be the Constitution, which mentions God exactly zero times and mentions religion in the context of keeping government out of it.

Tell me: where in the Bible is expressed the view that factions are best controlled by a maximization of conflict across a large geographical area, all forced to contest via a system of the democratic election of respresentatives? What early Christian theologian ever stated this as a core Christian idea?

“Inalienable” means that they cannot be taken away. If there was a God in the business of givng and taking away rights, then they wouldn’t be inalienable.

In terms of who recognizes and enforces those rights? Yes, that’s exactly it.

If you are speaking in the sense of a Right, capital R, then the concept of “gave” is nonsense. You can’t give someone a Right. They either have it, or they don’t.

In terms of what rights the government recognizes and acts to enforce? Yes, that’s exactly what we do (albiet in a somewhat indirect fashion for Constitutional amendments)

Meh. Ask him to google a guy named “Thomas Jefferson” and spend a day in solitude meditating on the good man’s thoughts on religion and government, then have him come back and explain how he knows more about what the nation was foudned to be than Mr. Jefferson.

As for our rights coming from a god, you have to be nutty to think that. What possible definition of “right” are you using that implies that a god gave it to anyone? A right is simply something that conforms to justice. It is a right given by peers and/or government.

A bunch of people standing around? Yes, actually. The decided that the government would respect certain rights.

I don’t recall anything in the Bible where God says much about the freedom of press, religion, bearing arms, judgement by peers, to not self-incriminate, not house soldiers, freedom from unlawful search and seizure, etc. Maybe you would like to point that out to me?

Or are you alleging that the Bill of Rights is the Word of God? Isn’t that a little blasphemous?

Outstanding, Sir.

I think you all are arguing semantics.

The question really ought to be not whether the framers wrote about God, or even founded America under God; the question ought to be whether America became a nation based on Christian ideology.

In other words, step back from what the founding fathers said or even meant – and think about whether today America is a nation (as a whole) guided by the principles of Christianity.

(And I don’t mean the idiot in the White House…)

Very nice. I had never seen most ofl that… and especially not collected in one place.

Stoid, I’d be curious of your debater’s response to that website!

Like the Taliban guided Afghanistan by radical Islam?

OK I’ll bite. What are the principles of christianity? I’d be interested to see a list of principles that don’t appear as a subset of other religions or rules of successful societies in general.

Oh I forgot to add this link. Good quotes from Adams and Jefferson.

Come on now…that’s a bit silly, isn’t it?

If you read carefully you’ll see that I wasn’t actually arguing one way or the other. I frankly don’t know. It seems that many of our values and traditions are based on Christianity (or the vague, rather modern term “Judeo-Christian”); at the same time, we are such a diverse and complicated society that it seems absurd to try to categorize the entire nation under any banner.

However, I think it’s a fair question to ponder – one which won’t be fairly discussed if we limit ourselves to only what the FF’s said or did, and not to what the nation has become.

Again, good point. I mentioned above the term “Judeo-Christian”, which itself is a term of contention. But it does lead the discussion to – is then America a nation of religious values; i.e., are we a nation based on a shared set of beliefs that are derived from the common values of several religions? Or is our belief system an organic thing, created “naturally” from the values of people rather than indoctrination of religion?

As I said, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution don’t discuss Biblical values. It appears more like the FF constructed them to specifically not reflect religious values, and instead be a neutral set of social and legal constructs.

Like I and others have said, unless you can point to something in the Bible or Christian society before America that has much to do with a federal republic recognizing universal rights…

The question, then, is this. If our government is not Christian, is our society? I think it is safe to say that yes, our society was Christian, up until very recently, in fact. Since 1900 or so, it has been dropping sharply away. On the other hand, the fundamentalists (of any religion) have always been bitching and moaning about how the country is losing its religion and going to the devil.

Me? I “blame” the invent of mass media, transit, and urbanization for us losing our social Christiandom. These days, most people may be “Christian,” though most don’t go to a church, and those who do are as often viewed with prejudice as those who profess another religion. Socially, we are no longer Christian - which is just what the fundies want me to say, but so be it.