NOT A Christian Nation
It keeps coming back from the dead, this idea that America was founded as a Christian nation.
All you have to do is ignore much of the Constitution, the back and forth in the Federalist Papers and the context of religious intolerance that made many of the founders flee Europe.
James Rudin, a rabbi writing for the Religious News Service, outlines the history of this country and why it is certainly NOT a Christian nation in his article (posted on the Huffington Post last week).
Rudin also notes a little mentioned event in the early history of the nation that may have been the tipping point for how religion would be handled in the Constitution.
In 1785 Virginia, governor Patrick Henry proposed a tax on residents to pay for churches.
A variety of public figures, including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison allied to defeat the measure with the introduction and passage the next year of Jefferson’s Statute of Religious Freedom.
The statute reads in part:
” No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever … nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”
Interestingly, Jefferson later penned these words in a much-talked about, but apparently seldom read document:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
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