Most Christians today (evangelical or not) will jump up and down and yell, “YES! YES!” But what does it mean to be a Christian nation?
We were founded upon Christian principles. The founders called upon God for guidance and felt a self-governed people needed to hold to scriptural truths. So, in that respect, YES we are a Christian nation. But early Baptists believed God had defined a “civil state and a spiritual state” as in Matthew 22:21. We pushed to have James Madison amend the Constitution, strengthening this distinction.
While the term “separation of church and state” derived from a letter sent to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut in 1802, the idea was part of Baptist writings from Thomas Helwys (A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity) to John Leland (A Chronicle of His Time in Virginia). These Baptist forefathers wrote that “all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” They held that the government role is to “protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another.” So, in this respect, some may say that we do not have a Christian government. The founding of the US was arguably the first time a government did not establish a state religion. The United States was unique among the nations of the world.
I gave a talk to the Windsor Optimist Club on how Baptists were responsible for the First Amendment. During a Q and A at the end, the question was asked, “What about things like nativity scenes on display in public buildings?” Interesting question!
See more at “The Courage of Your Faith,” (www.coyfaith.com) in “The Revolutionaries.” The “The Courage of Your Faith” consists of 12 short stories from our history and 12 Bible Studies on issues as relevant today as they were in the past. Each study includes supplemental information and a Power Point slide presentation. I will feature different studies monthly…for example, Lottie Moon and Missions during November/December and “The Separates” in May.
All documents can be downloaded at no charge. Have fun and let me know what you think. If you like it, please pass it on.