Is America a Christian nation? Well, it depends on what you mean. Do you have to be a Christian to live in America or to serve in politics? No. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from forcing people to practice a religion -- including Christianity. As well, Article VI of the Constitution states that "no religious tests shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
However, America is a Christian nation in other ways. First of all, the vast majority of American citizens identify as Christians. Just in terms of population, America is a Christian nation.
Second, America is a Christian nation in the sense that it was founded upon ideas and principles that come from the Bible. Now this is where it gets controversial, but only because many are ignorant of our nation's history. The following is a short list of examples showing that our nation was indeed founded upon Christian principles.
32 Reasons America Is a Christian Nation
- The first act of the First Continental Congress in 1774 in Philadelphia was to request a session of prayer. The prayer was led by an Episcopalian pastor named Reverend Duche. As he read from the Book of Common Prayer, several of the Founders knelt in prayer, including George Washington, Patrick Henry, Edmund Randolph, John Rutledge, John Jay, and Richard Lee.
- The Declaration of Independence mentions God four times. When Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he mentioned God only twice. Before the Congress would sign it, they insisted on two additional references to God:
- The Author of nature and nature's laws;
- The Creator who endowed in us our rights;
- The Judge to whom we appeal in witness that our motives spring not out of seditiousness, but from a dear love of liberty, and a deep sense of our own proper dignity;
- And a trust in Divine Providence. ("Faith and the American Founding: Illustrating Religion's Influence," by Michael Novak.)
- On December 11, 1776, the Continental Congress put out a proclamation that every American state set aside a day of prayer and fasting. "December 11, 1776: Resolved that it be recommended to all the United States as soon as possible to appoint a day of solemn fasting and humiliation to implore the Almighty God to forgiveness of the many sins prevailing among all ranks and to beg the countenance and the assistance of his Providence in the prosecution of the present just and necessary war."
- In 1776, Patrick Henry wrote, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."
- In his Farewell Address, George Washington said, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness – these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens."
- James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution of the United States, said this: "We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments."
- President Thomas Jefferson was on his way to church on a Sunday morning when a friend asked him where he was going. Jefferson replied, "To Church Sir. No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has ever been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example. Good morning Sir."
- Thomas Jefferson wrote on the front of his well-worn Bible; ‘I am a Christian, that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator and, I hope, to the pure doctrine of Jesus also.’
- In a letter to Daniel Webster, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the Bible will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”
- John Adams, our second president, who also served as chairman of the American Bible Society, in an address to military leaders said, ‘We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.’
- In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution: "The congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools."
- In 1787, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Northwest Ordinance, which chartered a government for the territory, provided a method for admitting new states to the union from the territory, and established a bill of rights for the territory, including the freedom of religion. The Ordinance said, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
- The first freedom protected in the Constitution is the free exercise of religion.
- John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court said, “God has given us the privilege in this Christian nation of choosing our leaders.”
- John Jay also advised that Americans should vote for Christians to be their leaders. "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian Nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
- "God" or "the Divine" is referenced in every state constitution at least once, and nearly 200 times in all.
- Our national motto is “In God We Trust."
- The pledge of allegiance says that we are “one nation under God.”
- When the president takes the oath of office he places his left hand on the Bible and ends the oath with a prayer, “So help me God.”
- Congress begins every session with prayer.
- The Supreme Court begins every session with the prayer, “God save the United States and this honorable court.”
- In 1800, Congress voted to allow the Capitol building to be used as a church building. One of those who voted in favor of this was the president of the Senate, Vice President Thomas Jefferson. In fact, Jefferson attended church at the Capitol building while he was Vice President, not even allowing bad weather to prevent him from doing so. Church services continued to be held in the Capitol Building until after the Civil War.
- William Holmes McGuffey is the author of the McGuffey Reader, which was used for over 100 years in our public schools with over 125 million copies sold until it was stopped in 1963. President Lincoln called it the "Schoolmaster of the Nation." McGuffey wrote, "The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our notions on character of God, on the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions. From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology."
- David Brewer, Supreme Court Justice from 1837-1910 said, “We constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.” He went on to say that America was “of all the nations in the world… most justly called a Christian nation.”
- President Theodore Roosevelt said, "The nation should be ruled by the Ten Commandments."
- In 1952 the Supreme Court declared, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being…. When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities, it follows the best of our traditions."
- Of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 were distinctly Christian, including the first, Harvard University, founded in 1636. In the original Harvard Student Handbook, the first rule was that applying students must know Latin and Greek in order to study the scriptures. "Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3); and therefore to lay Jesus Christ as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him (Proverbs 2:31)." For over 100 years, more than 50% of all Harvard graduates were pastors.
- President Andrew Jackson said the Bible was "the rock on which our republic rests."
- President Woodrow Wilson said of the Bible, "I ask every man and woman in this audience that from this day on they will realize that part of the destiny of America lies in their daily perusal of this great Book."
- Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President of the United States wrote, "The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country."
- Addressing the Republican National Convention in 1984, President Ronald Reagan said, “America needs God more than God needs America. If we ever forget that we are 'one nation under God', then we will be a nation gone under.”
- President Reagan also said, "Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged."
America is great because it is good, and it is good because it was founded upon Christian principles. Whether you are a Christian or not, we should all agree that it is wise to hold on to the traditions, principles, ideas, morals, and beliefs that have made this country so great.