The Pilgrims Did Not Found America

The Pilgrims Did Not Found America December 5, 2013

David Lane, perhaps the most powerful Christian right kingmaker operating today, has a profoundly ignorant essay on Thanksgiving that does what wingnuts always do — conflates the people who founded the first British colonies with the founding of the United States.

The force that founded America was spiritual, indeed evangelistic. Landing at Jamestown in 1607 Pastor Robert Hunt erected a cross, took communion, and covenanted, “We do hereby Dedicate this Land, and ourselves, to reach the People within these shores with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to raise up Godly generations after us, and with these generations take the Kingdom of God to all the earth. May this Covenant of Dedication remain to all generations, as long as this earth remains, and may this Land, along with England, be Evangelist to the World.” In 1620 — blown off course, but not off mission — Mayflower Compact, “…for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.”

The Pilgrims “advanced significantly the Bible’s message that God’s kingdom is irrupting into the world for his glory and our good.” –Dr. Bruce K. Waltke, “An Old Testament Theology.”

As the nation survived and became independent, the Founders established America legally as a Christian nation at the state level, rather than the Federal (details here).

Almost everything about this is nonsense. Yes, the founders of Jamestown and the Plymouth Bay Colony (the Pilgrims) were devout Christians who established officially Christian colonies. But the key word there is “colony.” They were British colonies established by the rule of a monarch, which we overthrew 150 years later. The Constitution was an explicit rejection of both colonial rule and theocracy, which is what those colonies were founded as.

And the notion that the founders of the actual country “established America legally as a Christian nation at the state level” is blatantly false. In fact, many of them led the fight to disestablish the official churches in their home state. Jefferson and Madison succeeded in doing that in Virginia in 1786 and that became a model not only for the First Amendment but for other states as well. One by one the states did away with their church establishments, the last one doing so in 1833. The fact that the Constitution did not force them to do so does not mean that the founders “established American legally as a Christian nation.”

What America needs is a covenant renewal, a return to the Founders stated mission. Dr. Waltke says that “Anything that threatens the loyalty to I AM, such as the Canaanites [Secularism] without, or as pride within [American Exceptionalism], must be eliminated. Loyalty to I AM has such a high value that anything that threatens it must be eliminated.”

Does Lane not realize how frightening and totalitarian that sounds? Does he not care? Or is that really what he wants, the elimination of “anything that threatens the loyalty” to God?

To argue that America’s Founders were not Christians — and the foundation laid was not upon Christ Jesus — is at best ignorant, and at worst dishonest.

I’ll take psychological projection for $1000, Alex. Some of America’s founders (the real ones, not the ones who founded colonial theocracies) were certainly Christians. Some were not. But this notion that the Constitution is based on Christianity is utterly idiotic. And you can prove me wrong by pointing out all of the analogs in the Constitution that were found previously in the Bible or in Christian theology. Good luck with that.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!