Few matters ignite more controversy than America ’s Christian roots. The issue reverberates anew this electoral season where the faiths of both major candidates have been questioned. Religion imbues politics.
The battle over America ’s beginnings muddles wishful hero worship with efforts to commandeer America ’s past so to steer her future. The most vocal proponents of Christian America and their counterparts advocating a completely secular state necessarily cherry-pick data to prove exaggerations while discarding inconvenient details.
Moreover, Believers should refuse Big Government operating in Christ’s name. As empty pews in Europe testify, politicized religion impedes ministry. Beautiful cathedrals dot the Old World , but with scant congregants, they memorialize a funereal dearth of faith coming from state sanctioned pulpits.
Meanwhile, those most ardently challenging America ’s Christian origins wrongly portray the Founders as rank secularists. They would seemingly reduce religious liberty to mere freedom of worship letting Believers pray in their hovels, but in public: Be seen and not heard. Some liberals seem inclined on expunging Christianity. Democrats nearly revolted over a fleeting reference to “God-given potential” at their convention.
The hardcore Left once highlighted how they supposed the political establishment exploited religion to keep workers content. Karl Marx thought religion reflected a palliative. Modern denizens of political correctness reckon the Founders so irreligious that they had sought to diminish spiritual influence. Under this flawed auspice, the First Amendment justifies evicting crosses from parks, purging prayer from schools and ousting “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
President Obama, champion of religious pluralism, can’t even credit our “Creator” when quoting the Declaration.
The most damning evidence of a non-Christian past is a humiliating 1797 treaty with the Barbary Pirates. President Adams sought to stem unremitting Muslim raids against Mediterranean shipping and protect American sailors from African slavery. This obscure treaty submitted, “The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
But diplomacy in North Africa through studied weakness proved as futile then as today, so Marines took action inspiring the snippet, “… to the shores of Tripoli.” By the 1800s, replete with a burgeoning navy, subsequent treaties contained no such obsequious bows to Islam. Still, the secularists rejoice.
As historian John Fea notes, “If the Treaty of Tripoli is correct, and the United States was not ‘founded on the Christian religion,’ then someone forgot to tell the American people… The idea that the United States is a ‘Christian nation,’ has always been central to American identity.” But debate rages over whether the Founders were Deists and why the Constitution bears no mention of God.