No, America is Not a Christian Nation (and It Never Was)

Religious freedom doesn't matter to people who want to oppress others, which is precisely what most extremist Christians want to do.

Old image showing George Washington appointed as the Commander in Chief at the first Continental Congress, June 15th, 1775.
Currier & Ives, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In American Christian circles, especially among the far-right, a group well-known for its obsession with self-victimhood, there is a constant misconception that the nation is a Christian one. This is patently false. America was not founded as a Christian nation, the Founding Fathers were not all Christians, the Constitution does not mention God or Christianity, and America is a secular nation. Christians are not persecuted in America, but rather they enjoy the freedom of religion just like everyone else.

There's just one problem.

Religious freedom doesn't matter to people who want to oppress others, which is precisely what most extremist Christians want to do. There's a difference between being free to practice religion and depriving others of their freedom to escape practicing your religion. By touting the "America is a Christian nation" nonsense, hardcore Christians are able to claim they're persecuted whenever someone does something that doesn't jibe with their religious beliefs.

Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, both outspoken deists who believed that books couldn’t teach God and subscribed to the idea of nature as God, were two of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Both men were instrumental in shaping the country during its early years. Paine is best known for his pamphlet Common Sense, which was published in 1776 and helped to rally support for the American Revolution. Jefferson is perhaps most famous for drafting the Declaration of Independence.

In addition to their political contributions, both Paine and Jefferson also wrote extensively about the importance of keeping religion out of politics. Contemporary Evangelicals overlook these writings.

No, objectively, the United States was not founded as a Christian nation.

The Founding Fathers were mostly deists, and they wanted to establish a nation based on reason and the Enlightenment, not on Christianity or any other religion. They believed that religion was a private matter and that the government should not promote or interfere with any particular religion. This separation of church and state is enshrined in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the American Constitution.

This prohibits the State from endorsing any particular religion whatsoever.

Yet, many Christians simply cannot accept this fact.

They conveniently ignore this part of the Constitution. Without a hint of irony, they simultaneously tout the First Amendment as one of the most important American principles.

One of the most common misconceptions about the founding fathers of the United States is that they were all Christians. This is simply not the case. While some of the founding fathers were devout Christians, others were Deists, and still, others were atheists. The founding fathers came from a variety of religious backgrounds, which is reflective of the religious diversity of the United States as a whole.

The founding fathers believed that reason, not revelation, was the best way to understand the Universe and its will for humanity. This belief informed their understanding of democracy and religious freedom.

The American Constitution is one of the most essential documents in the entirety of American history. It is the foundation of the American government and the supreme law of the land. The Constitution does not mention God or Christianity once. This is because the Founding Fathers wanted to create a government that was not based on any religion. They wanted to create a government that would respect the freedom of religion and not favor any one religion over another. The Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religion and separation of church and state.

America is a secular nation, which means that religion does not play a role in government or public life. In a secular nation, the government treats all religions equally and does not favor any one religion over another. Secularism is a principle that the separation of church and state should be absolute.

Christians are not persecuted in America. They are a demographic with some of the most political power out of anyone in the country. Yet, religious extremists take great offense when someone says “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and they accuse Starbucks of waging a war on Christmas because of the designs of their cups. To them, this is “being persecuted.”

It just goes to show you how ridiculous of a belief system it is. It also illuminates the intention behind the ideology of extremist Christianity, which is about control, rather than religious freedom.

If a Starbucks cup design is “oppressive” and the mere existence of LGBTQ people is somehow deemed harmful to this group of religious zealots, the problem isn’t with these people (and even objects) it’s with the expectation that everything conforms to this absurd world view.

It's a cup. That's it. Just a cup.

Oppression is the point. It has nothing to do with freedom besides the freedom to oppress.