BY: Gregory Dearth
A particularly annoying claim made by Christians is that the United States of America is, or is meant to be a Christian nation. They assert that the nation was built on Christian values by Christians and that even our laws are based on the ten Biblical commandments. None of these claims are true. And there is definitely no evidence for these claims.
The laws of the United States of America were originally based on British Common Law, not the ten commandments of the Christian Bible. But merely making this factual statement typically only leads to a counter-argument that British Common Law was influenced by the ten commandments. Of course, this is not true either. So here is a comprehensive progression of British Common Law, going all the way back to the traditions of the Suebi, a large tribe of Germanic people that were in opposition to the Romans (and therefore the Church).
British Common Law is base on Norman Law, which was well established by 1245 AD.
Norman Law was created by the Vikings, and influenced by Frank Law by around 900 AD which is older than the Vatican and not influenced by Christianity.
These laws were based on Germanic Common Law, or Gemeines Recht, which was influenced by Salic Law. The Salian Franks and other tribes had established a basic civil and criminal law by 511 AD.
The Salic Law is derived from oral traditions of certain designated elders who were also not influenced by Old Testament teachings. Rather, the elders that contributed to Salic Law based their understanding on several sources.
The Suebi, a large tribe of Germanic people going back to 58 BC, contributed traditional laws to various compilations, such as the Lex Ribuariorum, Lex Alamannorum, and the Lex Suauorum. The Alamanni also contributed to these compilations from the 3rd to 6th centuries.
For the ten Biblical commandments to have contributed to the laws of the USA would require a link between Christianity and the Suebi, which is certainly not seen anywhere in history.
But besides the origin of the laws of the United States, the forefathers intentionally designed America to be secular or religion-neutral. The false idea that the forefathers were Christians and wanted to create a Christian nation can be easily shown by myriad quotes and documents. Here are some easy quotes.
“Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Lighthouses are more useful than churches.” – Ben Franklin
“This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it.” – John Adams
“Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, the tyranny in religion is the worst.” – Thomas Paine
“The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.” – James Madison
“The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.” – John Adams
“Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the People alone, without a pretense of miracle or mystery,” – John Adams
“Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law.” – Ben Franklin
Of course that last quote further validates the progression and evolution of British Common Law mentioned earlier.
Now, these quotes are merely statements made by the founding fathers. But the matter can be made even more concrete by using the legal documents and comments on those documents.
From the United States Constitution, Article VI, Section 3:
“No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
…and from the 1st Amendment (the Bill of Rights):
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercising thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
That last quote is often pointed to as defining a separation of church and state. Christians deny this separation by pointing out that the phrase is nowhere in the Amendment. But the point of the 1st Amendment is precisely this separation, as Thomas Jefferson had clearly explained in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association:
“…legislative should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
And that is where we get the phrase ‘separation between church and state’ from.
Even without this explanation and the Constitution or Bill of Rights, it has been made clear in yet another document that America is not a Christian nation.
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion, as it has itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of [Muslims] and the Said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
This was so perfectly stated in the Treaty of Tripoli.
So should a Christian theist claim the United States of America is to be a Christian Nation, they would be required to explain all of this historical evidence that clearly specifies the opposite position