Conversation with an Atheist - Founded on Faith, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 6, 2016 1 comments

by Steve Risner

This week will be the last in a 3-part series on America's status as a Christian nation, which is part of a larger series concerning a conversation I had with an atheist. You can catch the first 2 parts of this series here and here. The first was concerning things the Founders said that confirm we were a Christian nation founded by Christian men on Christian principles to govern a Christian people. The second included acts of the government primarily under the Founders that confirm the government of the United State of America was not secretive in their attempts to Christianize the Native Americans, hold church services in government buildings, or print Bibles using tax money. This week we'll take a short look at what I believe is the only real defense a person could use to suggest this nation is not a Christian nation or was not founded on Christian principles. That is a fragment of a sentence found in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli.

Thomas Jefferson negotiated the Treaty of Tripoli. What's that and why did we need it? For nearly 2 decades shortly after the American Revolution, we had no Navy to speak of. Our cargo ships heading into the Mediterranean and surrounding areas had little to no defensive capabilities. The Muslim nations in the area saw this and began to capture these ships, take their cargo, and enslave the sailors on board. There were a number of treaties written in this time period with several different Muslim nations. Jefferson, who signed into law many acts that funded the Christianization of the Native Americans including sending missionaries, building and staffing churches, and printing Bibles, was the American primarily responsible for this treaty's writing. Knowing how Jefferson felt about Christianity, the Bible, and our nation, does it seem likely that Jefferson would write a treaty that stated we were not a Christian nation? What is often quoted in the Treaty of Tripoli by those who hold we are not a Christian nation is this: “The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion…” That seems pretty straight forward, right? Slam dunk for the secularist. The trouble is, this is a very short part of a very long sentence in one treaty of which there were many over a long period of time. This is classic quote mining. The sentence in question is literally over 4 times longer than this little snippet. But greater than this, if we understand the point of the treaty and the foundations of the conflicts in question, we see the issue a little differently. The entire quote reads: “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

This was literally America's first war on terror and also, quite literally, our first war as a sovereign nation. The European “Christian nations” had long battled against Muslims. It was a war between Christians and Muslims. The Muslim nations in question saw America as another “Christian nation” like the rest. But we see in this quote that Jefferson was saying we're not at war with Muslims. We respect them and their religion and respect their right to be Muslims if they so choose. He states clearly (and this is easy to miss) that the GOVERNMENT of the United States is not a Christian government. I stated this in a previous blog post—the difference between America being a Christian nation versus being a Christian state. He was simply saying Christian America is not interested in being at war with Muslims because they're Muslims. However, Jefferson was Commander-in-Chief over the first military action we took as a sovereign nation. This was the US Navy sending ships to Tripoli to stop the piracy that was happening regularly and costing us nearly 20% of the federal government's annual budget. Ever wonder why the US Marine's hymn contains the phrase “the shores of Tripoli” in its opening line? This encounter is exactly why.

The circumstances of the conflicts in question strongly support my contention that we are a Christian nation. The attacks on our ships were because we were a Christian nation, specifically, and because other nations alleged to be Christian attacked Muslims regularly over the years. Jefferson's words that we've quoted were his attempt to separate our Christian nation—a nation that recognizes the religion of Islam and respects their right to practice it—from the Christian nations of Europe that had engaged in warfare against these Muslims simply because they were Muslims. Other portions of this treaty, as well as other treaties for the same purpose, essentially said, “We're not like the Christian nations you've had trouble with in the past. We're a Christian nation that is okay with you being Muslim in your countries all you want. We just want to buy and sell goods with you.”

“But what about the separation of church and state?” you may ask. Do you know that this phrase is not found in the US Constitution? The First Amendment to the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” and goes on to outline the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and petition. It says nothing of a “wall of separation” which is the phrasing so often quoted. Jefferson, again, is the man responsible for this terminology. In a personal letter to a Christian denomination, he wrote, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” He is simply stating that the church he was writing to, as well as every other church, need not fear that the government would officially declare a state religion. This is something that we had recently broken free from when we revolted against England. But the US government cannot interfere with your right to express your religious conviction (unless you are harming someone else). It in no way means the government must sever all religious ties from itself.

President Andrew Jackson rightly said, “The Bible is the rock upon which our republic rests.” How could the foundation of our nation, as claimed by numerous Founders, be intentionally excluded from every part of the functioning of the government? Look at all the things the Founders did using federal tax money and buildings. Look at the Supreme Court and the obvious Scriptural references all over it as well as the Library of Congress and Capitol. Monuments are littered with Bible references. The National Archives note how our laws are based on the Bible. Look at the fact that Congress opens with prayer. How about the fact that our money says, “In God we trust.” Where does that come from? Our national anthem contains this verse:

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Even the Star Spangled Banner declares our Christian heritage, stating we are a land rescued by heaven and references praising the “power” that made and preserves our nation. Also, obviously, there is the reference to “In God is our trust.”

The US House of Representatives stated in 1854: “The great vital element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Our nation is so very far from this truth right now. We are victims of revisionism and deception. How can one argue, knowing the facts, that this nation was not founded by Christian men on Christian principles to govern a Christian people? Sure, we've come far from this in the last 100 years or so, but that doesn't change the fact that our founding was based on our God given rights as human beings. If you don't believe this, you have no basis for your rights as an American. Let's consider how, since at least the 1960s, our nation has slid faster and faster down a slope of depravity and immorality. Consider the state we are in right now. As we've forgotten our foundation and Who it's built upon, we've become a place our Founders would be disgusted by, I'm certain.

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Jason DeZurik said...

Did you know???