Is the United States a "Christian nation"? Some Americans think so.
Religious Right activists and right-wing television preachers often claim that the United States was founded to be a Christian nation. Even some politicians agree. If the people who make this assertion are merely saying that most Americans are Christians, they might have a point. But those who argue that America is a Christian nation usually mean something more, insisting that the country should be officially Christian.
The very character of our country is at stake in the outcome of this debate.
Religious Right groups and their allies insist that the United States was designed to be officially Christian and that our laws should enforce the doctrines of their version of Christianity. Is this viewpoint accurate? Is there anything in the Constitution that gives special treatment or preference to Christianity?
Did the founders of our government believe this or intend to create a government that gave special recognition to Christianity? The answer to all of these questions is no. The U. Constitution is a wholly secular document. It contains no mention of Christianity or Jesus Christ. In fact, the Constitution refers to religion only twice in the First Amendment, which bars laws "respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," and in Article VI, which prohibits "religious tests" for public office. Both of these provisions are evidence that the country was not founded as officially Christian.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;.
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The Founding Fathers did not create a secular government because they disliked religion. Many were believers themselves. Yet they were well aware of the dangers of church-state union.
They had studied and even seen first-hand the difficulties that church-state partnerships spawned in Europe. During the American colonial period, alliances between religion and government produced oppression and tyranny on our own shores. Many colonies, for example, had provisions limiting public office to "Trinitarian Protestants" and other types of laws designed to prop up the religious sentiments of the politically powerful.
Some colonies had officially established churches and taxed all citizens to support them, whether they were members or not.
Dissenters faced imprisonment, torture and even death. These arrangements led to bitterness and sectarian division. Many people began agitating for an end to "religious tests" for public office, tax subsidies for churches and other forms of state endorsement of religion. Those who led this charge were not anti-religion. Indeed, many were members of the clergy and people of deep piety. They argued that true faith did not need or want the support of government. Most critical to determining control of the chamber are likely to be prosperous, culturally dynamic suburbs — around cities like New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles — where Republicans are defending several dozen districts packed with voters in open revolt against Mr.
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