Posted by: jhamon | July 5, 2009

The Great Strength of America

My dear friend Craig sent along a link to an article by David Barton entitled Is President Obama Correct: Is America No Longer A Christian Nation?.  It’s a little long and a little academic, but two quotes stood out for me.  The first is from Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) :

[I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.

And the second from prominent Jewish radio host and author Dennis Prager:

If America abandons its Judeo-Christian values basis and the central role of the Jewish and Christian Bibles (its Founders’ guiding text), we are all in big trouble, including, most especially, America’s non-Christians. Just ask the Jews of secular Europe.. . .  I believe that it is good that America is a Christian nation. . . . I have had the privilege of speaking in nearly every Jewish community in America over the last 30 years, and I have frequently argued in favor of this view. Recently, I spoke to the Jewish community of a small North Carolina city. When some in the audience mentioned their fear of rising religiosity among Christians, I asked these audience-members if they loved living in their city. All of them said they did. Is it a coincidence, I then asked, that the city you so love (for its wonderful people, its safety for your children, its fine schools, and its values that enable you to raise your children with confidence) is a highly Christian city?  Too many Americans do not appreciate the connection between American greatness and American Christianity.

What is most amazing about our great nation is not our freedom from religion, but our freedom of religion.  The founders contemplated not the elimination of faith from public life – far from it – but rather the prevention of the establishment of a coercive state religion.  In that we have succeeded admirably. 

I fear that those who would persuade us that the separtion of church and state means the separation of church from state have an ulterior motive – to eliminate the public proclamation of faith as a means to silence we many who believe.

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Responses

  1. I do like the summation from Supreme Court Justice David Brewer.

    So, if being a Christian nation is not based on any of the above criterion, then what makes America a Christian nation? According to Justice Brewer, America was “of all the nations in the world . . . most justly called a Christian nation” because Christianity “has so largely shaped and molded it.”
    David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 40.

    • Thanks, Craig, for the useful addition!


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