President Obama:“do not consider ourselves a Christian nation” (Part 1 of David Barton’s response)

America’s Founding Fathers Deist or Christian? – David Barton 1/6

David Barton provided an excellent response to President Obama’s assertion: “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” Here it is:

Is President Obama Correct: Is America No Longer a Christian Nation?

Over the past several years, President Barack Obama has repeatedly claimed that America is not a Christian nation. He asserted that while a U. S. Senator, 1 repeated it as a presidential candidate, 2 and on a recent presidential trip to Turkey announced to the world that Americans “do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” 3 (He made that announcement in Turkey because he said it was “a location he said he chose to send a clear message.” 4 ) Then preceding a subsequent trip to Egypt, he declared that America was “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world” 5 (even though the federal government’s own statistics show that less than one-percent of Americans are Muslims. 6

The President’s statements were publicized across the world but received little attention in the American media. Had they been carried here, the President might have been surprised to learn that nearly two-thirds of Americans currently consider America to be a Christian nation 7 and therefore certainly might have taken exception with his remarks. But regardless of what today’s Americans might think, it is unquestionable that four previous centuries of American leaders would definitely take umbrage with the President’s statements.

Modern claims that America is not a Christian nation are rarely noticed or refuted today because of the nation’s widespread lack of knowledge about America’s history and foundation. To help provide the missing historical knowledge necessary to combat today’s post-modern revisionism, presented below will be some statements by previous presidents, legislatures, and courts (as well as by current national Jewish spokesmen) about America being a Christian nation. These declarations from all three branches of government are representative of scores of others and therefore comprise only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg.”

Defining a Christian Nation

Contemporary post-modern critics (including President Obama) who assert that America is not a Christian nation always refrain from offering any definition of what the term “Christian nation” means. So what is an accurate definition of that term as demonstrated by the American experience?

Contrary to what critics imply, a Christian nation is not one in which all citizens are Christians, or the laws require everyone to adhere to Christian theology, or all leaders are Christians, or any other such superficial measurement. As Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) explained:

[I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world. 8

So, if being a Christian nation is not based on any of the above criterion, then what makes America a Christian nation? According to Justice Brewer, America was “of all the nations in the world . . . most justly called a Christian nation” because Christianity “has so largely shaped and molded it.” 9

Constitutional law professor Edward Mansfield (1801-1880) similarly acknowledged:

In every country, the morals of a people – whatever they may be – take their form and spirit from their religion. For example, the marriage of brothers and sisters was permitted among the Egyptians because such had been the precedent set by their gods, Isis and Osiris. So, too, the classic nations celebrated the drunken rites of Bacchus. Thus, too, the Turk has become lazy and inert because dependent upon Fate, as taught by the Koran. And when in recent times there arose a nation [i.e., France] whose philosophers [e.g. Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Helvetius, etc.] discovered there was no God and no religion, the nation was thrown into that dismal case in which there was no law and no morals. . . . In the United States, Christianity is the original, spontaneous, and national religion. 10

Founding Father and U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall agreed:

[W]ith us, Christianity and religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people our institutions did not presuppose Christianity and did not often refer to it and exhibit relations with it. 11

Christianity is the religion that shaped America and made her what she is today. In fact, historically speaking, it can be irrefutably demonstrated that Biblical Christianity in America produced many of the cherished traditions still enjoyed today, including:

  • A republican rather than a theocratic form of government;
  • The institutional separation of church and state (as opposed to today’s enforced institutional secularization of church and state);
  • Protection for religious toleration and the rights of conscience;
  • A distinction between theology and behavior, thus allowing the incorporation into public policy of religious principles that promote good behavior but which do not enforce theological tenets (examples of this would include religious teachings such as the Good Samaritan, The Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, etc., all of which promote positive civil behavior but do not impose ecclesiastical rites); and
  • A free-market approach to religion, thus ensuring religious diversity.

Consequently, 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. This definition was reaffirmed by American legal scholars and historians for generations 12 but is widely ignored by today’s revisionists.

1. Aaron Klein, “Obama: America is ‘no longer Christian’,” June 22, 2008,WorldNetDaily (at: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=67735).(Return)

2. David Brody, The Brody File, “Exclusive: Barack Obama E-mails the Brody File,” CBN News, July 29, 2007 (at:http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/204017.aspx).(Return)

3. “Obama says U.S., Turkey can be model for world,” April 6, 2009, CNN (at:http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/06/obama.turkey/index.html).(Return)

4. “Obama says U.S., Turkey can be model for world,” April 6, 2009, CNN (at:http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/06/obama.turkey/index.html).(Return)

5.See, for example, Robert Knight, “Obama Nation’s Low View of Christianity,” Townhall.com, June 08, 2009 (at: (at:http://townhall.com/columnists/RobertKnight/2009/06/08/obama_nations_low_view_of_christianity).(Return)

6. “The World Factbook (under North America; United States; People; Religions),” CIA (at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/US.html).(Return)

7. “Survey Reports: Beyond Red vs. Blue,” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, March 17-27, 2005 (at: http://people-press.org/reports/print.php3?PageID=953), reports that in 1996, 60% of Americans believed that America was indeed a Christian nation and that by 2004, the number had risen to 71%; the 2009 poll showed that the number had dropped to 69% and then to 62% (see “Newsweek Poll: A Post-Christian Nation?,” Newsweek, April 3, 2009 (at:http://www.newsweek.com/id/192311), in which 62% answered Yes, 32% answer No, and 6% answered Don’t Know to the question “Do you consider the United States a Christian nation, or not?” See also “This Easter, Smaller Percentage of Americans are Christians,” Gallup, April 10, 2009 (at:http://www.gallup.com/poll/117409/Easter-Smaller-Percentage-Americans-Christian.aspx), in which this statement appears: “The United States remains a dominantly Christian nation. More than three-quarters of all Americans identify as Christian,” according to this poll 77% of Americans identify themselves as Christians (55% Protestant, 22% Catholic). (Return)

8. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 13. (Return)

9. David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 40. (Return)

10. Edward Mansfield, American Education, Its Principle and Elements (New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1851), p. 43. (Return)

11. John Marshall, The Papers of John Marshall, Charles Hobson, editor (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), Vol. XII, p. 278, to Rev. Jasper Adams, May 9, 1833. (Return)

12. Stephen Cowell, The Position of Christianity in the United States in its Relations with our Political Institutions (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambio & Co., 1854), pp. 11-12, Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1847), p. 260, §442. (Return)

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