Vox Day's Christian Nation Confusion

Vox Day's Christian Nation Confusion September 7, 2011

Our old pal Vox Day has cranked up that world class IQ and cranked out another column full of nonsense at the Worldnutdaily. This time it’s on the question of whether America is a Christian nation. Get a load of this little gem of psychological projection:

Atheists, particularly the aggressive variety, tend to repeat the same talking points over and over with such assurance that the average historically illiterate individual, regardless of his religious faith, has a tendency to accept them at face value. But this is foolish, as historical arguments presented by atheists almost invariably rely upon taking one small piece of historical evidence and twisting it beyond all recognition while simultaneously ignoring the larger part of the historical record.

Change “atheists” to “Christian nation apologists” and that would be as true a statement as you are likely ever to read. He then cites the famous Treaty of Tripoli’s statement that “the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” and makes a terribly silly argument:

To the careless reader, this would appear to support the atheist position. But the argument that America was never a Christian nation relies upon a common atheist trick, in this case, the substitution of the word “nation” for “government.” What is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion? Is it “the United States of America”? Is it “the American people”? No, it is “the Government of the United States of America.”

But the historical debate is not, nor has it ever been, if the federal government was a Christian government. Obviously it was not. Indeed, many, if not most, Christians today tend to regard Washington, D.C., as being far more reflective of Satan than of the Lord Jesus Christ. But the fact is that a government is not a nation. This should be obvious, as the government of the United States of America presently consists of 4.5 million employees and elected officials, whereas the U.S. nation is comprised of around 312 million people, less however many millions of non-citizen immigrants are presently resident within its borders.

The Oxford English dictionary defines a nation as “a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory.” Since the overwhelming majority of the body of American people were Christians in 1776 and 1851, and since 76 percent of Americans still identify themselves as Christians, it is perfectly clear that America was a Christian nation at the time of its founding and remains a Christian nation today.

This is, of course, precisely the opposite of reality. The slight of hand here is done by Christian nation apologists, not by their opponents, and the whole purpose of their argument is to use it to define what the government can or should do. If the only thing David Barton and his ilk meant when they say this is a Christian nation is that most of its inhabitants are Christian, who could possibly disagree? This is indisputably true.

But that isn’t what they argue. They argue that the founding fathers intended to establish a government that would advocate and/or enforce Christian beliefs. If the only thing it meant was that most Americans are Christians, then it would have no use whatsoever in debates about government endorsement of religion or about how to interpret various provisions of the Constitution. Yet that is the whole purpose of their argument, to say that because we are a Christian nation, the government can or should or must do X (mandate prayer in schools, put gays in jail, post the Ten Commandments in public buildings, etc). None of those conclusions could logically flow from the premise that most Americans are Christians.

The United States of America is a Christian nation with a secular government. From its inception, it has been a Christian nation with a secular government. And, as de Tocqueville correctly noted, its liberty is directly linked to its Christianity. The main reason American liberties have been systematically reduced since 1851 is because the influence of Christianity throughout the nation has declined. How can freedom possibly be said to come from the U.S. secular government when most of the constitutional protections devised by the Founding Fathers were erected to guard against that very government?

American liberties historically stem from the Christianity of the nation, not the peculiar formation of its secular government. This is why focusing only on the political issues that involve the secular government will never suffice to restore America’s lost liberties, because a nation that does not remain Christian will not, and cannot, hope to remain free for long.

This is nonsense, of course, utterly disproved by history. If Christianity was the source of the concept of liberty, why is there not a single example of a Christian-dominated nation that had anything remotely like liberty until this one? Why were all of the officially Christian nations of Europe theocracies or monarchies with official religions and no liberty for the individual? Jefferson pretty much destroyed this notion when he wrote about the history of Christian religious establishments that he sought to end:

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.”

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