Are We A Christian Nation?
Nation: 1. a large aggregate (a whole formed by combining several (typically disparate) elements) of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory. Oxford Dictionary
For other uses, see Nation (disambiguation).
A nation (from Latin: natio, "people, tribe, kin, genus, class, flock") is a large group or collective of people with common characteristics attributed to them — including language, traditions, mores (customs), habitus (habits), and ethnicity. By comparison, a nation is more impersonal, abstract, and overtly political than an ethnic group. It is a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its autonomy, unity, and particular interests. Wikipedia
Discussions concerning whether or not the United States of America are a Christian nation always result in opposing worldviews declaring their side holds truth. For instance, be assured the US is not a Christian nation by these words: "The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion" John Adams. Where in the definition does it say anything about government? It does not. It specifically leaves out government because there are two types of government; those operated by a church, and those not operated by a church. Mr Jefferson adamantly stated the United States federal government proposed under the constitution would not tax the Anabaptists in Connecticut because there would be no state religion. The Wikipedia definition specifically notes nation is not to be confused with State or country, both of which are terms associated with government.
How does one determine if America ever was a Christian nation? One looks at the historical evidence. Start with Columbus because he has been the historical reference since the fifteenth century. Evidence mounts the Scandinavians touched here first by circa 1000 AD. However, they didn’t leave enough of a mark to create a nation of people.
Columbus’ story starts before his trip. He approached Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand six other times. They saw no reason to grant him a charter. On the seventh time of his audience, Queen Isabella decides to grant him his wish because Spain, three days before, successfully cast the Moors out of Spain. “On January 2nd 1492 Los Reyes Católicos marched into Granada and the last stronghold of Moorish Spain came to an end.” (http://www.spanish-fiestas.com/history/moorish-spain/) It is said she saw an opportunity to thank God for the miracle of repelling the Moors. She not only gave Columbus a charter (GIVEN at Granada, on the 30th of April, in the year of our Lord, 1492-I, THE KING, I, THE QUEEN.), but supplied him with a Jesuit to evangelize whatever lands Columbus found and claim them for the Spanish crown. Aside from the Spanish propensity for destroying the wealth of whatever nation it came up against by taking the riches back to Spain, Columbus also failed as a Christian by wrapping himself in greed. He lost all respect and died penniless. Yet the Catholic way continued to expand into the western American continent for another three centuries. For instance, Spanish priests founded San Francisco in 1776.
During the same time period the French took Jesuit priests with them down the St. Lawrence, across the Great Lakes, into the central plains, and down the Mississippi. By 1535 Cartier explored as far as Quebec City. Further penetration into the North American continent established colonies throughout the regions as far south as Louisiana. The Louisiana Purchase handily doubled the size of the United States’ possession in 1803.
The English Crown finally made a move with Roanoke, VA in 1587, but that colony failed when the Catholic Spanish Armada attacked Protestant Britain the following year, prohibiting any supplies or assistance from returning in 1588. Jamestown in 1607 became the first Protestant settlement on the entire east coast of the North American continent in over one hundred years of exploration.
This Christian settlement of the entire North American continent demonstrates how the nation of the United States came into being. The discussion continues with the coming of the Pilgrims in 1624. They were not separatists; they had a charter from the King of England to live “in the northern Virginia colony” as English subjects. They left England because of persecution by the Anglican Church of England. They wanted nothing to do with the Anglican Priest in Jamestown. They wanted to follow the Protestant Reformation practices, not those of King Henry’s church. Still, they were Christians.
So, when I hear comments concerning America and how she’s not, nor has ever been considered to be a Christian nation, I must object. Clearly, by definition, we are a people with a common heritage of Christianity in all its denominations. Were there Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and New Age religions represented within the continent. Of course there were. Muslims were primarily the North African slaves without influence at the time in neither government nor culture and the same applies to most other segments of society, especially concerning the Atlantic coastal colonies. This statement does not downplay the atrocities committed against African, Irish, oriental, Hebrew, or native inhabitants. It doesn’t belittle their contributions of hard work or research and development any of them did, voluntarily or involuntarily. It’s simply a statement concerning how a nation is considered to be Christian according to the commonality of the people settling it.
History determines what constitutes a nation. Whether or not a particular people group lived, worked, contributed or grew significant within the concepts of what a nation is or may become, remains to be seen. One might consider hesitating when prone to demand the United States cannot be considered a Christian nation when all of its foundation is laid upon Christ’s Word spread across the continent on which it sits.