America, Religious Freedom, and Christianity
Is America a Christian Nation?
That is a damn good question that I would like to discuss a good bit in this hub. In the past few months I have read and heard opinions from all types of people on whether or not America is a Christian nation and I now feel the need to address the issue head on. There are a lot of perceptions on this issue, which every person in America is entitled to. Why are they entitled to those opinions? It's because our founding fathers used the freedom of choice that God granted them, which they passed on to you, to make the laws of the land and the basis for our society.
In The beginning
the pilgrims left their home lands to be free of religious persecution. In 14th and 15th century Europe, you would face severe penalties for having beliefs that didn't line up with those who were in power at the time. If my memory serves me correctly, they would go as far as hanging people for publicly displaying a belief system that went against the ruling party. The Kings and Queens of the day were considered to be "gods" themselves, which meant they had an unbelievable amount of power and influence when it came to what you could and couldn't do, and that included what religion you practiced. If you did have religious beliefs that didn't match the status quo, you were only safe if you kept those beliefs completely to yourself. In modern times we'd call that savage, but back then, it was your only option.
Once Spain sent Columbus to "officially" discover America, the lay of the land changed quite a bit. A large number of those who had been persecuted for their faith sought religious freedom in the new country. This type of societal idea was unheard of in those times, and the flood of people who were interested in such freedoms grew larger and larger. It didn't take long until the population of the new country was booming, and the driving force behind that boom was this "freedom" thing that everyone loved so much.
A timeline of Christianity
What is religious freedom
Religious freedom is a wonderful thing. It grants each man, woman, and child in a society to believe as they see fit. It allows for acceptance of other cultures to hold on to their own beliefs. It encourages people to grow closer to their chosen "god" and practice what they believed in an open way. No longer did a person who didn't accept the current King's or Queen's beliefs have to face the severe penalties that were common at the time. However, there is something people seemed to have missed along the way. it doesn't, and never did encourage the people of the land to disrespect those who fought and died to create this utopian society by removing their beliefs from the national doctrine. It granted them the right to their own beliefs, not the right to change the religious foundation the new land was built on.
Over the course of the next 300 years, give or take a few, the population in the new land grew at a rate unparallelled in all of history. People from all over the world began to hear of the "freedoms" freely granted to those who lived in the new country, and that was as powerful of a force then as it still is today. Countless thousands risked life and limb to take themselves and their families to this place where they could be free to live, love, and worship as they seen fit. It was magical.
Even with England attempting to pull the strings of it's new colony from a distance, the crown's henchmen were not powerful enough to stop the tide that had begin to flow. There is an old saying that is very accurate for describing what was to come. "Ten paid men are no match for one man who fights for his home." That is not an exact quote, but the idea is just as powerful in modern times as it ever was. Those who came to the new country for freedom would not be denied their new right to choose their own fate, and they so believed in this idea that they risked their lives in order to preserve this new way of life.
As America grew
so did the number of different faiths being practiced by it's citizens. The "melting pot" that America was to be was well on it's way to becoming the most powerful country in the world. The most important link in the chain occurred in the 1770's, when the people of the new land come together to stand up and fight against the British forces to formally win our independence. As the war with the England come to a close, the leaders of the revolution were granted the power by the people to lay the framework under which our new nation would function. This collection of men would be responsible for writing our national doctrine, which they did, and did well.
George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and 37 other representatives from all but one of the colonies (Rhode Island) came together to draft, write, and sign the most important document ever written by mankind. They used their freedom, good will, and faith to forge ideas into legislation that would serve and protect all of those who would ever call themselves and American. They even went as far as to make certain there was a separation of the church and the state, so that no single religion ever be given the right to deny religious freedom to another religion.
And, that is where things get tricky. You see, even though they allowed for and accepted others who believe as they see fit, a great number of those who were responsible for drafting the American doctrine used the Bible and their belief in God to lead them in creating this framework for our newly founded society. The subject of how frequently the Bible was quoted is widely debated, but the fact that it's words and ideas heavily influenced the shaping of this new world can not be denied. If you read any of the documents written by the majority of the founding fathers prior to or after the writing of the constitution, you will see quotes and ideas that are directly taken from the Bible. Even though they were smart enough to accept all faiths, the founding fathers of America specifically used the Christian faith to build this country. Anyone who doesn't accept that is either ignorant to the facts, or living in denial for their own personal motives. Freedom of religion is just that. The freedom to practice your own faith. I repeat, it is not the freedom to censor, control, or change the ideals this nation was founded on.
So, is America a Christian Nation?
Honestly, that is a matter of perception. On one hand, the freedoms granted to each citizen allows for a wide berth when it comes to this subject. The many other cultures and religions that reside inside the boarders of America deserve to be respected and live with the same freedom from persecution that our forefathers sought out so many years ago. With that being said, they also should not and do not have the right to change what America has stood for for hundreds of years. "In God we trust" wasn't put onto all the currency in American by accident. The Constitution didn't quote the Bible because there weren't any other religions to choose from, either. America was built on the Christian faith, period. If you stand against that, you stand against America. If you stand against America, you should not and do not have a right to reside within the boundaries set forth by our government or receive any of the benefits that would be extended to someone who is an American. Don't like it? Hop on a boat or a plane and go back to the land where they fervently practice and violently protect your religious preferences. We already have ours.........
Now that I have said my piece, here's the factual bottom line. Freedom of religion is just that. The freedom to practice your own religion without having to worry about the rulers of the nation coming to take you away. However, in no form or fashion is it the freedom to censor, control, or change the ideals this nation was founded on. It is not an excuse to make a mockery of our ideals, and subject our children to a life that our founding fathers specifically set forth doctrine to protect. You can practice your faith as set forth by the Constitution, but it's high time you leave ours alone. To all of you I say have a very, merry Christmas. That, boys and girls, is the "American" way.