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The United States a Christian nation? More on the Republican/Christian dichotomy

Updated on March 2, 2015
This is not a conspiracy theory article, I promise.
This is not a conspiracy theory article, I promise. | Source

The beliefs of the Founding Fathers

I realize I'm flirting with conspiracy theory with this subject, but that is not my intention and I will aim to steer as clear as possible from anything too whack-a-doodle. But the fact remains that many of the Founding Fathers were Freemasons (just FYI, one of the requirements for Masonic membership is a belief in a supreme being, no matter what form it takes), and a good number of them were deists.

Deism (according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary): a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe.

Or, as a professor of religion and philosophy I had a few years ago put it: "The belief that God created the universe, put in place certain immutable laws - like physics and human intellect - and then moved on to bigger and better things."

David L. Holmes of the the College of William and Mary in his book The Faiths of the Founding Fathers, breaks the belief system of the early bureaucrats down into three general categories:

The "hardcore" deists, those who left their Judeo-Christian faith altogether and advocated Enlightenment thought on nature and reason. Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen and possibly Thomas Jefferson are among those that fall into this category. This is the smallest group, but highly influential nonetheless.

Those who retained Christianity and a supernatural, interventionist view of God and Christ, such as Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams (yay beer!) continued to adhere to their denominational beliefs. The second largest category. Holmes also notes that most of the FF's wives fall into this category as well (see James Madison, below).

Then there were those that were a mixture. They were deists, but believed that Christ had a moral code worth following while eschewing the idea of a Trinity. This was the largest group and included George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and James Monroe.

Thomas Paine even went so far as naming Jesus a purely mythological being:

"The fable of Christ and his twelve a parody of the sun and the twelve signs of the Zodiac, copied from the ancient religions of the Eastern world.... Every thing told of Christ has reference to the sun. His reported resurrection is at sunrise, and that on the first day of the week; that is, on the day anciently dedicated to the sun, and from thence called Sunday..."

There is ample albeit speculative evidence that Washington and Jefferson were Christ mythicists as well.

Jefferson, in a letter to Adams, wrote:

"...the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."

Thomas Jefferson was a deist and a Biblical revisionist; he wrote a version of the Bible that discluded any divine intervention and miracles. He was also the one who created the idea of separation of church and state. Consequently, in 2010, the Texas Board of Education, an elected body with a Republican majority, voted to have any mention of Jefferson as an influencer of the forming of the US removed from history books in the state. He was replaced by the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. Yay, Texas! Let's keep 'em stupid, fat and gun-totin'!

James Madison, the primary author of the US Constitution, was nominally Christian (Baptist), but only because his wife was very devout and he was a devoted husband. But in Virginia at the time, Baptists and Anabaptists were killing each other and burning down each others' churches and homes. He didn't think very highly of "Christians."

This painting is actually misnamed as it is actually the drafting committee presenting its work to Congress. The only remotely Christian iconography is on the British flags hanging on the wall.
This painting is actually misnamed as it is actually the drafting committee presenting its work to Congress. The only remotely Christian iconography is on the British flags hanging on the wall. | Source

"Christian" nations of the past

Virtually every Western empire in the current era labeled itself "God's Country" and used the concept of divine right to conquer and pillage other European nations and foist their beliefs and lifestyles upon the "savages" of other continents. Most of these countries were Catholic, with the notable exception of England, a country that had a king (Henry VIII) who was so egotistical he refused to take orders from the Vatican and therefore named himself Pope, creating the Anglican (Episcopalian in the US) Church in the process.

England - Once God's country, now known for beyond-fascist immigration laws, rampant racism and bad teeth. Good bands and TV though.

France - Once God's country, now known for wines, cheeses and adultery.

Spain - Once God's country, now known for anarchist terrorism and past (shame!) tolerance of Jews and Muslims..

Portugal - Once God's country, now known as Brazil.

Germany - Once God's country, now known for beer, schnitzel, harsh accents and Hitler.

The United States - Still God's country but more well-known for bigotry, jingoism, financial inequality and lots and lots of guns.

All of these European "Godly" empires fell into disarray and financial hardship. Guess who's next?

Poll on US religion

Does the First Amendment prohibit religious-based legislation?

See results

The table below shows a breakdown of registered voters political and religious affiliations. Notice that less Democrats are religious yet tend to be the ones that vote for policies that reflect the teachings of Christ, such as welfare, raising the minimum wage and subsidized healthcare.


What the US would look like if it really were a Christian nation

If the US' government was truly founded on Christ's ideals, here are some of the policies and realities that would be in place:

There would be no homelessness. The unemployed, mentally ill, shell shocked veterans of unjust wars and others would have roofs over their heads and three squares a day. And not in squalor, prison or psychiatric hospitals. Not necessarily living in luxury, but comfortable. According the the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there were 610,042 people experiencing homelessness in January 2013. This may not be a huge percentage in relation to a population of nearly 320 million, but the number should be zero - if this were a Christian country.

Capitalism would not exist in its current form. Capitalism as it stands today is leading to a polar opposition in class: The Very Rich and The Very Poor. Bye-bye Middle Class.

Perhaps capitalism wouldn't exist at all. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, envisioned a future Utopian society in which supply so vastly exceeded demand that paying for just about anything became a thing of the past. Working would be a matter of choice. No one on the USS Enterprise drew a paycheck, not Captain nor lowly crewman. Why? They have everything they need through replicators. Today's leaders of industry would not like replicators. Maybe that's why we don't have them.

Without financial inequality, crime rates would plummet as there would no longer be have-nots, only haves.

Being sick would not be a cause of financial hardship. Medicine is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Not because it needs to be, but because being sick somehow makes one less of a person and it takes money to become more of a person apparently. Profiting from hardship is a time-honored American tradition.

The US would have an open immigration policy. Extending from the "God's country" bullshit paradigm, it seems that non-Americans are less than human and we don't need them rubbing elbows with our daughters. Not that the US was ever a bastion of diversity. We put our native diversity into concentration camps, ahem, reservations as soon as humanly possible. But "love they neighbor" means inviting them into our "home" even if they are Hispanic.

Truly equal rights. No one would be looked down upon because of their sex, lifestyle or skin color. Women's bodies would be theirs to govern. Equal pay for equal work (or no pay as Roddenberry would have it).


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    • Trevor Wallace profile imageAUTHOR

      Trevor Wallace 

      3 years ago from Outside Houston, Tx

      Thank you, Credence. The Star Trek economy is fascinating to me. Here's a fun albeit lengthy read you may enjoy:

    • Credence2 profile image


      3 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Great article, Trevor. Iam intrigued with your comparison of our current circumstances with that of Gene Roddenbury's vision through Star Trek.

      In the episode from Star Trek Tng, entitled 'The Neutral Zone' where 3 20th century people were found in a deep space capsule and revived from cryogenic freeze.

      Reading your article reminded me of this episode and how archaic these people were and how they not could appreciate how much time had passed.

      As Capt. Picard said the human race had evolved beyond its infancy. People free from the pressures of material want, without the obsession for the mere possession of things. This is replaced with a new life goal of enriching and improving ones self. Combine this with the invention of pattern molecular replicators, we have a new human paradyme.

      The concept, if possible at all, lies at the end of many revolutions, and may well not be considered 21st century science. One thing is certain though all those grubby capitalists would become men without a country.

    • Trevor Wallace profile imageAUTHOR

      Trevor Wallace 

      3 years ago from Outside Houston, Tx

      I'm going to have to slightly disagree with you here, Rodric. Paul absolutely softened some of Christ's admonishments. Why? Because what Christ proposed was difficult even for the most kind-hearted. What if you taught a man to fish, but he refused to do it himself and asked for a hand out? Well, according to Christ you are still required to feed the lazy ^%$^! Paul came back and said if that person was not willing to work, he would not be fed, opening the door for judgmentalism to creep back in after Christ forbade it.

      Sure, it's not easy to follow Christ's words to the letter, so Paul made it slightly easier. But is the easy way the best or most correct way?

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      3 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      A careful reading of the Bible reveals that the changes that Jesus offered were not changes but clarifications. The Jews had to live by the same laws as the new cult of Christianity that developed from it, but had clauses for exception. Reading Deuteronomy shows that the gospel Moses taught was the same that Jesus taught.

      The Lord was the one who commanded people to fight or not, which did not change with Christianity. He commanded Christians not to fight. It was a clear pattern that God established since Moses.

      Unfortunately there are those who do not believe that God called any more prophets who could give a new word from God to command otherwise. That does not mean Christianity is different, just impotent compared to Judaism in that vein of thought.

      What you call "Paul's softening of the law" is actually a prophet-apostle clarifying what Jesus taught to avoid the assumption that Christians should not resist evil ever. That would mean the demise of that people which historically God only permits because of disobedience.

    • Trevor Wallace profile imageAUTHOR

      Trevor Wallace 

      3 years ago from Outside Houston, Tx

      You're right about that, Rodric. No study of history and society is complete without looking at religion. Religion, for better or worse is ultimately a cornerstone of any society. But just as society evolves, so does religion, or in the case of 'Murican "Christanity," devolve. American Churchians owe more of their dogma to Leviticus and Paul's softening of Christ's message than to the Messiah's own words, which pretty much overturned the entirety of the reactionary commandments in Leviticus.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      3 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      I agree that we can be different (me smiling). Atheists are the products of their society. If they are reared in a Christian society, they will adopt the morals of that society to some extent. Atheist with morals are indirectly related to the majority religion of a nation. They may chose not to participate in a theism, but they enjoy a society created by theism. Without religion, our society or ANY society would not exist.

    • Trevor Wallace profile imageAUTHOR

      Trevor Wallace 

      3 years ago from Outside Houston, Tx

      Thanks, Rodric. You make some very good points. But I don't necessarily think that morality and philosophy are inexorably linked to religion. There are plenty of moral atheists. I think maybe we're viewing the concept of "Christian nation" from different angles. Which is fine. Diversity of thought is a good thing.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      3 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      Does the First Amendment prohibit religious-based legislation?

      It depends on what you mean by religious based legislation. If you mean the forming of a state church then no! If you mean laws based on the moral and philosophical perspectives of the voters then yes!

      Being a Christian nation is not about the laws upon which it is founded, but the faith of the citizens within the nation. We are a Christian nation by majority only. Our government is not Christian. It recognizes that God exists. There is not mention of Christ in the government. Since most Christians believe that God and Christ are the same though it poses no problems.

      All of our laws are religious based. Think about it. We base our laws on our collective morals. Most of us in this nation are Christians currently, so I expect that most of our laws will reflect the population, though that is changing now.

      We are not a Christina nation in the sense that Christ rules the government. You are correct that there would be no homelessness, financial hardships for sickness, shady capitalism and such. It would be outlawed!

      We are not a Christian government, but a Christian nation until there are more non-Christians than Christians. Then we will be a Fill-in-the-blank nation.

    • Trevor Wallace profile imageAUTHOR

      Trevor Wallace 

      3 years ago from Outside Houston, Tx

      I think you're right in a lot of ways, Kathleen. Don't get me wrong, I'm not so blind that I don't see hypocrisy in the left-leaning party as well. The Dems just don't thump the Bible while doing things I believe Christ would not approve of quite as much.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I think Democrats tend to think the only way for the nation to do Christ-like things is to make sure the government sees to it because people, left to their own resources, are too self-centered or unorganized. They care about the masses of people. I think Republicans tend to think it is the job of the local churches to get the Christ-like things done. They care about helping the people they know, but not so much about people they don't know. Just my opinion. I also think both groups want religious freedom to impose their religion on others but don't want anyone else's religion imposed on them.

    • Trevor Wallace profile imageAUTHOR

      Trevor Wallace 

      3 years ago from Outside Houston, Tx

      Very interesting, theman. I love learning new stuff.

    • theman6007 profile image

      Steven Jerome 

      3 years ago from Baltimore

      The King James version was actually written by thirty six masons, Francis Bacon was the thirty seventh mason. The bible is understood in different ways by different denominations, however the symbols in the bible take on a different meaning to high ranking masons.


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