Given that we are on the doorstep of Independence Day, I thought this the appropriate time again to deal with the true heritage of this great nation. This is especially true in light of President Barack Obama again declaring that America is not a Christian nation.
First of all, we must define what exactly is meant by a "Christian nation." Is it a nation where the majority of the inhabitants are Christians? This is certainly true of the United States. According to most recent polls, around 80 percent of Americans consider themselves Christian (Gallup, 77 percent; ABC News, 83 percent; Newsweek, 81 percent).
Would a Christian nation have the majority of its leaders subscribe to Christianity? This is also true of the U.S. The vast majority (more than 95 percent) of the current Congress describe themselves as Christian. This could be said of every Congress in the history of the U.S. In addition, virtually every U.S. president has been described as Christian.
Nevertheless, according to noted historian David Barton, these characteristics in and of themselves do not make a Christian nation. So what does make a Christian nation?
In 1905, Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) wrote a book entitled "The United States: A Christian Nation." In his book he wrote, "This republic is classified among the Christian nations of the world. It was so formally declared by the Supreme Court of the United States. But in what sense can it be called a Christian nation?"
Justice Brewer answers his own question, noting that America is "most justly called a Christian nation" because Christianity "has so largely shaped and molded it." Barton adds that, "A Christian nation as demonstrated by the American experience is a nation founded upon Christian and Biblical principles, whose values, society, and institutions have largely been shaped by those principles. ... Christianity is the religion that shaped America and made her what she is today."
Prominent politicians, statesmen, and historians alike throughout our storied history repudiate Obama's assertion concerning our heritage. For example, John Jay, a Founding Father, member of both Continental Congresses, one of the authors of the Federalist Papers and first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, stated that, "it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians as their rulers."
John Adams, Founding Father, first vice president and second president, noted that, "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were ... the general principles of Christianity."
Noted historian Benjamin Franklin Morris (1810-1867) wrote that, "These fundamental objects of the Constitution are in perfect harmony with the revealed objects of the Christian religion." He added that, "This is a Christian nation, first in name, and secondly because of the many and mighty elements of a pure Christianity which have given it character and shaped its destiny from the beginning."
President Woodrow Wilson stated that, "America was born a Christian nation." In 1947, writing to the Pope, President Harry Truman said of America, "This is a Christian nation."
Regarding the U.S. Constitution, authors David Marshall and Peter Manuel wrote that the Constitution works so well because, "Aside from the divine origin of its inspiration, the Constitution was the culmination of nearly two hundred years of Puritan political thought. The earliest church covenants started with the (same) basic, underlying assumption" upon which "the Constitution was conceived and framed."
We don't only have to rely on the words of others to see the true heritage of this nation. Christianity is woven into the very fabric of America. For example, preceding the Civil War, 92 percent of the 182 colleges and universities in the U.S. were established by some branch of the Christian church. Everything from our calendar to our currency reflects Christianity.
In America, you are free to practice Christianity, any other religion or none at all. This freedom is a byproduct of Christianity. From the beginning God created us free to choose to follow Him or not, and so it is with Christianity.
This is not the case in Muslim nations, Communist nations, and so on. One finds the kind of freedom we have only under Christian principles.
For Obama to deny our Christian heritage is either the height of ignorance, the height of foolishness, or an arrogant attempt to paint the U.S. as something he would rather it be. Whichever it is, he must deny both history and the facts, and thus he is simply wrong.
Trevor Thomas is a Gainesville resident and regular columnist; Web site, www.trevorgrantthomas.com.