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Do you consider America a Christian nation?

Separation of religion and state

Posted by BJake on 2008-07-30 22:38:16

The founding fathers made it clear that there should be a separation between church and state.

America has never been a christian country. Although the majority of those living in the USA are christian - although much fewer nowadays than there used to be, a christian nation would not provide for those citizens who are not christians. That was why it was wrong in the beginning of the fledgeling nation and why it is even more wrong today.

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment refers to the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...." Together with the Free Exercise Clause, "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" - ANY religion - not just christianity, these two clauses make up what are commonly known as the "religion clauses" of the First Amendment.

The establishment clause has generally been interpreted to prohibit 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress, and/or 2) the preference of one religion over another or the support of a religious idea with no identifiable secular purpose. The first approach is called the "separationist" or "no aid" interpretation, while the second approach is called the "non-preferentialist" or "accommodationist" interpretation. In separationist interpretation, the clause prohibits Congress from aiding ANY religion in any way even if such aid is made without regard to denomination. The accommodationist interpretation prohibits Congress from preferring one religion over another, but does not prohibit the government's entry into religious domain to make accommodations in order to achieve the purposes of the Free Exercise Clause. In other words, the Government can intervene only if one religion seeks to prevent people from following another religion.

Without actually stating it per se, it eloquently enshrines the separation of church and state AND enshrines the right of ALL Americans to follow ANY or NO religion without prejudice or interference from any other religion.

The clause itself was seen as a reaction against the Church of England, established as the official church of England (the nation - interestingly not in Scotland which is predominantly Presbeterian and where the church chose not to be involved in the affairs ogf the state - it was the church which separated church and state) and some of the colonies, during the colonial era including the colonies which became USA.

Posted by Tralhob on 2008-07-31 00:02:43

America is not a "Christian nation," nor has it ever been. And nor has it ever been "known as" one.

If it were, you would see this explicitly made clear in the Constitution. The Constitution would at the very least contain references to God, Jesus, Christ, Christianity and/or the Bible. America would be referred to by the founders as "a Republic in Christ" or some such.

But it does not. The Constitution is a purely secular document that nowhere provides for a Christian government or even an unspecified 'religious' government, despite the fact that the founders could have easily included such provisions and would have if their vision for their new country was that it should be Christian.

And of course there is also the First Amendment. And Madison and Jefferson's words from various letters clearly explaining their views, lest there be any doubt. So we've got the First Amendment AND we've got supplemental texts explaining the views of the men who wrote the damn thing, so we know exactly what they meant!

Arguments that this or that founder believed in God or admired Jesus, all fail.

Sorry, American Taliban. But not really. Congress isn't allowed to pass any law respecting you guys.

Posted by Rico Suave on 2008-07-31 02:40:39

Has this issue not been settled in the minds of the masses? Will we ever reach acceptable resolutions? Did we really need yet another survey on this topic?

Posted by Tralhob on 2008-07-31 08:09:03

No we didn't "need" one; all we "need" is food, water, air, and some minimum type of shelter, and perhaps clothing. And that's assuming we want to live, which we don't "need" to do.

Posted by BJake on 2008-07-31 13:34:35

Rico is quite right and so is Totoro - this matter has been settled - we don't need any polls - do we need to live? Maybe that's an idea for a poll?