One of the more difficult things in life is to see the world as it is. Not the way we think it should be or how we wish it to be, but just as it is: perverse, compromised and with some outright lies.
There are others who refuse to see America in any other context than that it was founded as a Christian nation.
Some time ago I asked John Belew, then the Baylor University provost, how we can get such twisted views of history?
His reply was that some people can only justify their deeds by putting their bias on everything. It is the nature of some to rearrange the truth to get their viewpoint across.
I may not have quoted John exactly, but it reminded me there are people with little or no concern for honest research. The end justifies the means.
Our history books are full of such characters. But today, in this advanced age with churches and other religions on every corner, we just don’t expect to find so many skewed views about our “Christian nation.”
I don’t see our land as a Christian nation. But that must be said in love, not trying to set someone straight.
Our nation is one blessed of God, as many have been from time to time. I just find it difficult to accept in Christian love those who would re-write our history.
We are told that 52 of the 55 signers of the Declaration of Independence were orthodox Christians. This is not true. The records show 77 percent were members of a church, but for 23 percent there is no record of any religious affiliation. (For more information, see www.usconstitution.net).
Derek H. Davis writes in The Journal of Church and State that church membership in the 1770s was less than 30 percent. Davis goes on in his editorial to summarize the principal inaccuracies put forward in David Barton’s book, The Myth of Separation.
The argument is often made that the principles of Christianity were part and parcel of the principles of the United States government. The Constitution is a document that names the people, not God, as the ones who created and formed this government.
At the time, the founders of the nation were at war with England. They wanted to be free of foreign rule. Among their dreams were to do away with a state church. England was not the only country in Europe ruled by religious establishments. Lutherans and Catholics in Germany and Italy; Presbyterians in Scotland, were all supported by state taxes.
As Walter Berns notes, “The Constitution was ordained to secure liberty and its blessings, not to acknowledge God or even move people to faith in God.” Berns goes on to say in his piece, “Religion and the Founding Principle,” that “instead of establishing religion, the Founders established religious freedom.”
Reinhold Niebuhr, who taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, wrestled constantly with applying Christian ethics to political life. He put it this way: “When we talk about love we have to become mature or we will become sentimental. Basically love means … being responsible, responsibility to our family, toward our civilization, and now by the pressures of history, toward the universe of humankind.”
Those who would tear down the wall between church and state do not know what evil will be loosed if they ever get their way.