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Switch to Forum Live View Was America Always a Christian Nation?
2 years ago  ::  Jun 13, 2012 - 7:52PM #1
solfeggio
Posts: 8,941

In a few weeks (3rd July), a new book is coming out, 'Nonbeliever Nation,' by secular advocate David Niose, in which the author argues that the idea of America as a Christian nation is largely a myth, and that America began with secular roots. 

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/...

And, in fact,, Niose challenges the reign of the Religious Right in America, claiming that nonbelievers are a rapidly growing group in the country,

www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/12-06-13/

www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/20...

So, did America really start out as a secular country?  Are the Religious Right wrong to assume that theirs is the 'true' America?

I'll be interested to see what Niose has to say in his upcoming book. 

 

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 13, 2012 - 8:15PM #2
REteach
Posts: 14,224

The reason the founding fathers were so vehement about a wall between church and state was because they were living in colonies with official religions. They saw up close and personal what Christians did to other Christians and were not happy about it. 


Many of the FF had unorthodox views--some were Deists. Jefferson created his own Bible by cutting out all the passages about miracles. Madison was a pretty devout orthodox Christian, even though he was very much in support of a wall between church and state (in part because it would also improve religion not to have pastors as government employees--see, government employees had a bad rap even then.)  In general, they were probably not all that unlike we are today. Some traditionally devout, some believing in something but not the full tenets of Christianity, some who probably didn't believe at all and hid it. Some who didn't believe at all and didn't hide it. 


There have been various revivals which swept the nation and led to brief increases in religiosity, but that doesn't mean those periods were the norm. 

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard was not what I meant...
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 13, 2012 - 8:55PM #3
mytmouse57
Posts: 9,782

Socially, America is a Christian nation. Although, Christianity is a hugely varied religion. Southern Baptists, Evangelicals, Catholics, Methodists and Mormons might all have widely varied ways of expressing it.


Legally, America is a representative republic, under the rule of secular law.

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 13, 2012 - 9:07PM #4
Roodog
Posts: 10,168

Hell F'ing No!


Being a Christian Country means that there is a direct tie between Church and State, like England, Spain and Imperial Russia. In these societies, the State enforces or have enforced  the doctrinal standards of their given State Churches.


The First Amendment prohibits any such relationship between any Church and the American Government. There is no Church of the United States. What the First Amendment does allow is that any and all religion may operate freely without having the damned Government peering over their shoulders, "upholding and defending orthodoxy". 

For those who have faith, no explanation is neccessary.
For those who have no faith, no explanation is possible.

St. Thomas Aquinas

If one turns his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 13, 2012 - 9:16PM #5
mountain_man
Posts: 38,790

Jun 13, 2012 -- 7:52PM, solfeggio wrote:

So, did America really start out as a secular country?


Yes. The Constitution specifically prohibits a state sponsored religion and any mention of any religious preference is purposely absent from any of our founding documents. This is a country filled with christians but not a christian nation.


Are the Religious Right wrong to assume that theirs is the 'true' America?


Of course they are wrong about that and many other things. You wouldn't want to live in a "True America" run according to the Religious Right.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 14, 2012 - 12:20PM #6
wohali
Posts: 10,227

America started out as a stolen country.

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 14, 2012 - 1:16PM #7
TemplarS
Posts: 6,599

Wohali, I had the same thought, but the link cited in the OP seems to mean America in the late 1700s.


I think Mytmouse got it right.  The United States of America was quite deliberately never defined as a Christian nation under the law, though the beliefs of the majority of its inhabitants would have been Christian, though of many different flavors (many of which today would probably not pass muster as Christian under the narrow definition of "Christianity" passed around by people like Mr. Santorum).

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 14, 2012 - 1:29PM #8
BDboy
Posts: 5,170

Jun 13, 2012 -- 9:07PM, Roodog wrote:


Hell F'ing No!


Being a Christian Country means that there is a direct tie between Church and State, like England, Spain and Imperial Russia. In these societies, the State enforces or have enforced  the doctrinal standards of their given State Churches.


The First Amendment prohibits any such relationship between any Church and the American Government. There is no Church of the United States. What the First Amendment does allow is that any and all religion may operate freely without having the damned Government peering over their shoulders, "upholding and defending orthodoxy". 




 


>>>>>>>>>> Exactly.


However Fox news network may try to sell you the concept of "The original Christian nation" theory.


Having said that, it is agreed that, "modern America" was founded by Christians in most parts.

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 14, 2012 - 1:55PM #9
TemplarS
Posts: 6,599

Again: what Fox and others on the right are doing is totally ignoring the distinction made by Mytmouse.


They are (intentionally, I think) mixing adjectives: arguing that since  America was (socially) a Christian nation back then, it should become (legally) a Christian nation now.


That only makes sense if you are either too ignorant or too dishonest to understand the distinction.


 

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 14, 2012 - 2:54PM #10
mainecaptain
Posts: 21,779

Jun 14, 2012 -- 12:20PM, wohali wrote:


America started out as a stolen country.




Very true, and very NOT Christian

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. Aristotle
Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. Plato..
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives" Jackie Robinson
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