Sally Morisset’s Feb. 6 “Community Viewpoint” makes the repeated claim that America was “founded on the Bible.”
Let’s examine what the Founding Fathers and framers of the Constitution really had to say on this subject:
Nowhere in the United States Constitution do the words “Bible,” “Christian,” “Christ,” or “Jesus” appear.
The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli (ratified unanimously) states: “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
Article 7 of the Constitution prohibits requiring a religious test for public office.
Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Liberty provided religious protections for “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mehometan (Muslim), and the Hindoo and Infidel (Atheist).”
Jefferson wrote: “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by a supreme being in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter” (letter to John Adams).
Jefferson also wrote that the intent of the First Amendment is to build “a wall of separation between church and state” (letter to the Danbury Baptist Association).
James Madison opposed government-paid chaplains in Congress and the military, rejected a proposed census by profession because the clergy would be polled, and vetoed legislation granting federal land to a church. He felt those actions would violate the First Amendment’s intent to strictly separate the interests of church and state.
In his 1790 letter to Touro Synagogue, George Washington described his vision for a multi-faith society, where religions other than Christianity would not just be tolerated, but welcomed.
John Adams was a Unitarian who rejected the divinity of Jesus.
References to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and “the Creator” in the Declaration of Independence were commmonly-used Deist terms at the time of the country’s founding.
The words “In God We Trust” were not added to currency until the Civil War era, in response to pressure from a national organization of ministers.
The words “under God” were not added to the Pledge of Allegience until 1954, during the anti-Communist McCarthy era.
There is overwhelming evidence that America was never intended to be a “Christian nation,” and no amount of wishful thinking on the part of Christian fundamentalists will make it so.