Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

I have heard much impassioned debate lately about the question of whether America was founded as a Christian nation, so let’s set the record straight here. The concept of a Christian nation is not found in the Bible, because Christianity is the way of freedom and liberty. To receive Jesus Christ’s free offer of eternal life is a matter of personal choice and conscience, mysteriously wrought in the individual human heart, will, and soul as God’s Spirit draws all men to Himself.

Therefore, it is impossible to legislate Christianity into a nation. You cannot legislate morality any more than you can legislate saving faith. Here is another way of phrasing this: I believe with all my heart that the concept of a Christian theocracy, where both Christians and non-Christians are forced by the state to live a Christian-like life on the exterior, is abhorrent to the Christian God, just as forced conversions are abhorrent to the Christian God. We get a glimpse into how God views dead surface-level legalism in how Jesus dealt with the Pharisees – He reserved some of His harshest words for them. God looks at the heart, and that is an area of personal liberty, not political or institutional control.

At this point, I hope that those who come down on the side that America was not founded as a Christian nation are feeling somewhat vindicated, because while they may not be able to put their finger on it directly, something just doesn’t feel right about the harsh judgmentalism of the Religious Right and other cultural warriors who want the Bible to be America’s Constitution. I apologize that there are Christians who have a distorted view of God. But I wanted to challenge you with this thought:

America may not have been founded as a Christian nation, but it was founded as a nation that was pretty close to how the Christian God would found a nation: not one where people are forced to the Christian faith (you cannot force the human heart, so this quickly degenerates into hypocrisy), but rather, one where people from all faiths and walks of life are welcome and treated equally. My conviction is that, of all religions in the world, the pure, unadulterated Christian faith has stood out in championing the universal equality of men and women, regardless of race, belief system, culture, or anything else, because all people are made in God’s image.

America has tried to live out this heritage, and I would grade the past 200+ years as a D, or maybe a D+. I could list out the reasons, but they are too obvious. The slavery issue pretty much sealed the deal. But even so, the hallmark of freedom remains. Most Americans are no longer Christians today, and as a result, the landscape has changed. But this is all besides the point, for all of those who are lambasting broken families and blaming the culture of divorce and you name it for America’s decline. The point is that the underlying DNA of freedom is still here. My belief is that that ideal of freedom (in other words, limited government) – where we can choose to believe anything, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, you name it – has descended from the heart of the Judeo-Christian faith.

One corollary, and I’ll move onto final thoughts. Why is American conservative political thought dying? Because by itself, it is powerless. American conservative political theory is one of non-action on part of the state. It must be bolstered by an impassioned plea for individuals, families, and communities to be agents of progress and change, or else it is a dead political philosophy. Just ask Leslie Knope what she thinks of Ron Swanson’s political philosophy.

I digress. I end with an invitation for those who do not call themselves Christians to take advantage of our freedom here and continue to explore the truth. I especially invite you all to explore the Christian faith. If you come across stumbling blocks in the form of Christians who talk about people as if they are the enemy to be condemned, then I plead with you to brush them aside, and continue exploring.

My best wishes and prayers are with you all.

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