Should America be a Christian nation?

Britain is officially a Christian nation. Because it is, America is not. That distinction was intentional because America's founders had chaffed under the abuses of a state faith. However, it is a serious mistake to believe America's founders were anti-Christian.

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In 1776, the colony issued the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which included this clause: “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

Each of the other colonies had similar clauses embracing our Christian heritage in their charters and subsequent constitutions. Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Jersey, Delaware and New York had no official religion. However, each had statements such as found in Delaware’s 1701 charter stating:

“Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I do hereby grant and declare, That no Person or Persons, inhabiting in this Province or Territories, who shall confess and acknowledge Our almighty God, the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the world; and professes him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the Civil Government, shall be in any Case molested or prejudiced, in his or their Person or Estate, because of his or their consciencious Persuasion or Practice, nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious Worship, Place or Ministry, contrary to his or their Mind, or to do or suffer any other Act or Thing, contrary to their religious Persuasion. And that all Persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World, shall be capable (notwithstanding their other Persuasions and Practices in Point of Conscience and Religion) to serve this Government in any Capacity, both legislatively and executively…”

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Similar statements are found in Georgia’s founding documents, such as its 1732 charter, which stated: “[R]epresentatives… shall be of the Protestant religion… All persons whatever shall have the free exercise of their religion; provided it be not repugnant to the peace and safety of the State; and shall not, unless by consent, support any teacher or teachers except those of their own profession.”

William Penn signing a treaty with Indians

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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