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States was founded as a Christian nation. The historical evidence for this is
so overwhelming that only someone resistant to the truth and the facts can
refuse to believe it.
At the time
of the founding, 99.8% of the population of the fledgling country identified
themselves, to one degree of sincerity or another, as followers of Jesus
Christ. And 98.4% identified themselves as Protestants. Catholics represented
1.4% of the population, and the other 0.2% were followers of Judaism. Virtually
100% of those living in America at the time of its founding were adherents of
the Judeo-Christian tradition.
States was founded by Christians, for Christians, and on the foundation of
Christianity. Of this there can be no historical doubt.
This truth is
reflected in our First Amendment, which, according to historian and
long-serving associate Supreme Court justice Joseph Story, was not about
religion in general but specifically about the religion of Christianity.
designed specifically to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith in
the new nation, and to prevent competition among the various Christian
denominations. It did this by prohibiting Congress from picking one Christian
denomination and making it the official church of the United States.
the other hand, were free to establish Christian denominations in their
individual states, and somewhere between six and ten of the original 13 states
did so. (The exact number depends on how strict the definition of
points out, the Founders were not thinking of any of the world’s other
religions when they enacted the First Amendment. They were dealing exclusively
writes, “The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or
infidelity by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian
sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national
government.” (Emphasis mine throughout.)
Merriam-Webster, “countenance” means “to accept, support, or approve of
(something), to extend approval or toleration to.” So the purpose of the First
Amendment was quite pointedly not to “accept, support, or approve of” Islam or
Judaism or atheism but to deal only with the expression of the Christian faith
in the new nation.
the United States is committed to freedom, other religious traditions enjoy the
presumption of religious liberty, unless and until (as is rapidly becoming the
case with Islam), it proves to be a menace and a danger to social order and
regulation of religious expression was left, in our Constitution, to the
exclusive province of the states.
Federer points out, in his June 20th “American Minute,” Maryland
provides an illustrative case in point.
charter for the Colony of Maryland, named for the Catholic wife of King Charles
I, was given in 1632 to Lord Calvert because of his “pious zeal for extending
the Christian religion.” Calvert was instructed to work for “the increasing
worship and religion of Christ” in the new colony, and to build “churches,
chapels, and places of worship.”
founded by Catholics, Maryland enacted the Toleration Act of 1649 to extend
protection to Protestants. The Act read, in part, “That no person...within this
province...professing to believe in Jesus Christ shall...from henceforth be any
ways troubled or molested...in respect of his or her religion.”
Over the next
125 years, the vicissitudes of English politics led to the ascendancy of
Anglicans in Maryland, followed by the ascendancy at other times of
Catholicism. But the growing crisis which led to the formation of the United
States changed the focus of Maryland politics, and Maryland’s first state
constitution, enacted in 1776, specifically granted religious freedom to every
denomination of Protestants and Catholics, i.e., to followers of the Christian
Article 33 of that first Constitution
read this way:
as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most
acceptable to him; all persons, professing
the Christian religion, are equally entitled to protection in their
no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate on account of
his religious persuasion or profession, or for his religious practice...
the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax for the support of the Christian
Article 55 laid down the following
requirement for anyone who wanted to serve in public office in the newly
every person, appointed to any office... shall... take the following oath:
swear, that I do not hold myself bound in allegiance to the King of Great
Britain, and that I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to the State of
Maryland; and shall also subscribe a
declaration of his belief in the Christian religion."
In other words, no one but Christians
were allowed to hold public office. Now Maryland’s constitution has undergone
subsequent revisions, but still to this day it requires “a declaration of
belief in the existence of GOD” as a qualification for holding elected office.
In 1835, French political writer Gustave
de Beaumont, a contemporary of Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote that “Maryland
Law...declares that, to be admitted to public office, it is necessary to be a
Was Maryland founded as a Christian
state? Without any doubt. Was the United States founded as a Christian nation?
Without any doubt.
Perhaps the way forward is for this
nation to return to its spiritual roots and rediscover the robust, unapologetic
allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ which animated this nation at its
founding. That allegiance made us the greatest nation in history. Our light has
dimmed, but a return to the faith of our fathers can make that light shine
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do
not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or
American Family Radio.)