The Instigator
Ozymandias
Con (against)
Winning
64 Points
The Contender
robzilla180
Pro (for)
Losing
59 Points

America is a Christian Nation

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/10/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,566 times Debate No: 208
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (16)
Votes (37)

 

Ozymandias

Con

Hi! This is my first debate on this site, so I thought I'd start of with a hello to the community! I would also like to apologize if I miscategorized the debate. It seemed like it could fit equally well into politics or religion.

That being out of the way, I shall begin. It is often said-- particularly by right wing politicians and pundits-- that America was founded as a Christian Nation and that we must therefore pass laws in accordance with the Christian religion.

However, it is my view that the evidence-- especially the writings of many of this nation's founders-- indicates otherwise.

I shall begin by pointing to the Treaty of Tripoli[1], also known as the Treaty of Peace and Friendship.
Article 11 of this treaty states:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Interestingly enough, this article was apparently not in the Arabic copy of the treaty-- however, that is irrelevant, because it is the English version of the treaty: the version that included the above article, that was ratified by the US Senate in 1797. The entirety of the treaty, including Article 11, was read aloud on the senate floor, and it was ratified by a unanimous vote-- indicating that every senator agreed with the contents of the treaty.

Indeed, after being approved, the treaty was reprinted, in whole, in multiple newspapers, and again, there was not a single complaint from the general populace. If the US was indeed founded upon the Christian religion, then you would think that the people of the time-- a majority of whom would have been alive during the nation's founding-- would have objected. As this is not the case, one can only conclude that Article 11 is a valid claim.

Predating this treaty, however, our own Constitution denies any religious founding principle for our nation. It explicitly forbids any religious test to hold public office, and the Bill of Rights forbids any establishment of an official state faith, or any restriction on the free practice of religion.

Furthermore, many of the founding fathers were not actually Christians. They were students of the enlightenment, and a large number of them, not surprisingly in this context, were deists. Even the Christians among them, however, were ardent secularists-- they believed that the government and religion had no business interfering with each other.

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org...
robzilla180

Pro

I disagree with your point here. While this treaty that you brought up is rather interesting, I believe if we look deeper at this treaty and in context, I bet that what the treaty meant isn't that America is not a Christian nation, but that the treaty was being adopted out of the wisdom of it's adopters.

Secondly, if we go further back before the War for Independence, it is historical fact that many of the American colonies were founded on religious beliefs. The Puritans and Separatists were very influential in the founding of America. Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Plymouth were some of these places that were founded by church congregations and pastors.

Thirdly, I'm afraid that you are mistaken when you say that the founders of the United States were not Christian.
Here are some good quotes from our founders:

John Adams and John Hancock:
We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus! [April 18, 1775]

John Adams:
" The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God."
• "[July 4th] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty."
–John Adams in a letter written to Abigail on the day the Declaration was approved by Congress

Samuel Adams:
" He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all… Our forefathers opened the Bible to all." [ "American Independence," August 1, 1776. Speech delivered at the State House in Philadelphia]

Benjamin Franklin: | Portrait of Ben Franklin
" God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel" –Constitutional Convention of 1787 | original manuscript of this speech

"In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered… do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?" [Constitutional Convention, Thursday June 28, 1787]

In Benjamin Franklin's 1749 plan of education for public schools in Pennsylvania, he insisted that schools teach "the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern."

In 1787 when Franklin helped found Benjamin Franklin University, it was dedicated as "a nursery of religion and learning, built on Christ, the Cornerstone."

Patrick Henry:
• This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed."
—The Last Will and Testament of Patrick Henry

"It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here." [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]

"The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed."

Thomas Jefferson:
" The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man."

"Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus."

"I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever." (excerpts are inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in the nations capital) [Source: Merrill . D. Peterson, ed., Jefferson Writings, (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), Vol. IV, p. 289. From Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, 1781.]

James Madison-Father of the Constitution:

" We've staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart."

"We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We've staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]

• I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare the unsatisfactoriness [of temportal enjoyments] by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.
Letter by Madison to William Bradford (September 25, 1773)
• In 1812, President Madison signed a federal bill which economically aided the Bible Society of Philadelphia in its goal of the mass distribution of the Bible.
" An Act for the relief of the Bible Society of Philadelphia" Approved February 2, 1813 by Congress

Thomas Paine:
" It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author."
" The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal." "The Existence of God--1810"

George Washington:
Farewell Address: The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion" ...and later: "...reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle..."

" It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible."

"What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ." [speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs May 12, 1779]

"To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian" [May 2, 1778, at Valley Forge]

Our founders were Christian. We were founded as a Christian nation. The only reason I think we are such a progressive nation is those that are in opposition to the secularists do not have the time to get as involved as those that are advancing a secularist agenda on America. And with 80% of the population professing to be Christian, how can you say we are not a Christian nation?
Debate Round No. 1
Ozymandias

Con

Firstly, if you disagree with my assessment of the Treaty of Tripoli, you should provide evidence that it does not mean that the US is not founded upon the Christian religion. Given that it explicitly uses the words "the government of the United States is not, in any way, founded upon the Christian Religion," that will be some task. But you cannot simply assert that it must mean something else without providing evidence for your view.

Secondly, going back further than the War of Independence is irrelevant. The founding principles of the colonies is irrelevant. We must look at our actual *nation's* founding, and that founding begins with the War of Independence and the events immediately prior to it.

Also, I did not say that none of the founding fathers were Christian-- only that they were not uniformly Christian as is often claimed, and that a fair amount were of another faith. Even many of those you quoted require closer inspection. Many of your quotes only mention God, who is not exclusive to Christianity but is also shared by just about every religion, even Deism. (For brevity's sake, for any quote for which I don't provide a quote, I refer you to Wikiquote. I had tried to source all my quotes immediately after them, but I ran out of space. My apologies.)

For example, John Adams is far less certain. He expressed many Unitarian viewpoints, and also said, "Howl, Snarl, bite, Ye Calvinistick! Ye Athanasian Divines, if You will. Ye will say, I am no Christian: I say Ye are no Christians: and there the Account is ballanced."
Essentially, he was saying that while he may not be a Christian in the "traditional" sense of the word-- the Christianity we think of today, he considered himself more Christian than any of his critics.

Ben Franklin:
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.

This is hardly a quote you'd expect from a Christian! He said that while Jesus's morals and views on religious were great, they'd been corrupted by Christianity, and that its current form was not what it originally was.

True, he expressed a belief in a "Supreme being," but that is hardly contradictory to deism. He may well have been a Christian and not a deist, but if so, he was a throughly non-devout one. Indeed, if you read his explanation on the lightning rod, though he seemingly attributes it to God, he does so in a wittily mocking manner.

Now, I find it amusing you quote Jefferson, the man who coined the phrase "wall of separation" and the famed creator of the Jefferson Bible, which was essentially a Bible with any claims to the divinity of Jesus removed because Jefferson did not believe them to be true. He claimed to be a Christian only in the sense that he viewed the moral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth to be wonderful moral teachings. Even I, an atheist, can say this about them.

Now, let us look at some of Jefferson's other quotes, to get a good idea of many of his beliefs:

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion . . . or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself.

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

Thomas Paine is another great example of a Deist:
Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. [The Age of Reason]

Again from the Age of Reason:
The account of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, and of his dying to appease the wrath of God, and of salvation by that strange means, are all fabulous inventions, dishonorable to the wisdom and power of the Almighty; that the only true religion is Deism.

Essentially, I think it is evident that Paine's religious views were certainly not Christian, but rather Deist. I think his quote "The only true religion is Deism" is especially telling. ;)

Madison:
During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

Washington... was complicated, to say the least. While he often sprinkled his speech with religious rhetoric, he was always incredibly careful NOT to identify himself as a Christian. Now, it seems very possible to me that he was indeed one, but his reluctance to identify as such indicates, to me, that he viewed his religion as entirely his own business and nobody else's.

Which brings me to my point, which you seem to have so artfully dodged and ignored, so I shall quote myself:

"Even the Christians among them, however, were ardent secularists-- they believed that the government and religion had no business interfering with each other."

Washington, like the other founding fathers, believed that a man's religious is his own business, and that it didn't matter at all when it came to politics. In a response to a letter to a Synagogue, Washington assured them that, so long as as he is a good citizen, his faith is completely irrelevant and of no concern to the nation.

Madison, despite his arguably Christian faith, wrote an essay in which he said that Congress absolutely must not employ chaplains. Were America a Christian Nation, would this make any sense at all?
A few more quotes:

Mingling religion with politics may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America. --Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.-- Thomas Jefferson, Whether Christianity is Part of the Common Law

I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.-- Thomas Jefferson

Besides the danger of a direct mixture of religion and civil government, there is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ecclesiastical corporations.--James Madison

The government of the United States is not, in any way, founded upon the Christian religion-- the Treaty of Tripoli. I repeat it because you failed to address it or demonstrate why it doesn't mean what it seems to mean.

As you can see, even those who may have been Christians would have no truck with mixing religion with government-- both for the religion's sake and the government's!

I must end with your last claim. Yes, the majority of people in the country are Christian. However, saying that it's a Christian nation just because Christians are the largest group is like saying it's a White Nation just because white people are the largest group in the country.
robzilla180

Pro

Upon second look at the treaty, I must say that I actually agree with the wording. Let's take a look at the wording.

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;"

I think I can just simply state this so I'll do my best.
I think that the US was founded on Christian PRINCIPLES, not the Christian RELIGION. We have 7,000 different denominations of the Christian religion so it's not like we could even found the nation on a Christian religion if we tried too, but the Christian principles such as ALL men are created equal (please don't bring up slavery, I've already taken this into account and don't want to debate this here...), the sanctity of life, freedom, and others.

And here's something to think about...
This debate is called "America is a Christian NATION" not "America is a Christian GOVERNMENT"
Here's a question...
Can a nation be Christian only if it's government is Christian? I think there are plenty of nations (meaning a nation in the sense of a group of people) that disagree with their governments. Throughout history the nations of England, India, Rome, Israel, France, Spain, Burma, Germany, Russia, China, and I would even say America is displeased with it's current gvn't right now.

I'm not going to argue with you anymore on whether or not our founders were Christian because we can speculate back and forth on what they said for ages.

My main point for this argument is that a our gvn't may not be Christian, but the Nation Certainly can be, and with an 80% of the population professing Christianity, I would say that yes we are a Christian nation.
Debate Round No. 2
Ozymandias

Con

Ah, but remember, in our country, the government is "of the people, by the people, and for the people." The ideals of the country ARE ideals of our government, represented especially by Constitution and our Founding Documents(I'll get back to these in a minute). In a Republic, you must not so easily claim the government and the nation as separate entities. To do so is to deny the very principles of a republic in the first place! If the nation is founded upon Christianity, then so is the government.

In any event, the claim of a Christian Nation is always brought up in the context of government-- "the government should do X because [my version of]Christianity says X." For example "Schools should make children pray, even if they don't want to, because this is a Christian Nation." Living in the South, I can't tell you how often I've heard almost exactly those words!

As to the Founding Documents, I will first refer to the Declaration of Independence, written by the *deist*--not the Christian, the deist-- Thomas Jefferson. I would say that it was a fairly instrumental document in our nation's founding, would you not?

Though it references an almighty Creator, this is not the God of the Bible, but the DEIST clockmaker God of the Enlightenment. In the Declaration can be seen echoes of Enlightenment philosophers, such as Paine and Locke. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is lifted almost entirely from Common Sense, where it was "Life, Liberty, and Property," with "the pursuit of happiness" being a phrase elsewhere found in the pamphlet.
It being established that the Declaration was based on Enlightenment values, we must consider: what WAS the Enlightenment, and what were its values?

As its name suggests, the Enlightenment placed, above all, a high value on reason. According to the philosophy derived at the time, you should "Question with boldness [everything], even the existence of a god." [1] Accepting any belief on faith alone was viewed as a negative. As such, the unofficial religion of the philosophy was Deism. I really wish I could do a very good in-depth evaluation of the Enlightenment, but whole books have been written on the subject, so I hope my explanation is good enough.

Therefore, if the Declaration was based on the Enlightenment, it could be said to be indirectly based on whatever the Enlightenment is based on-- and that is most certainly *not* Christianity. Indeed, many Enlightenment philosophers got into a lot of trouble for their anti-Christian writings-- see Spinoza.

Now, what was our Constitution, then, based on? Well, I will certainly say that it was not Christian principles. Nowhere does it mention God, except to explicitly forbid religious tests of office, and to deny any establishment of a national church.

Its elaboration of rights and responsibilities is based on humanity, and not God. Now, *some* of them did believe that God granted those rights, but that's just like how some people believe that God guides evolution. You can believe it, but it's not an inherent part of it. The Constitution is the same way. It's based on man's rights, not on God, and certainly not the Christian God. Some of the founders believed that those rights came from God, but it wasn't inherent to the idea of the rights!

It is true that certain factions of Christianity(very radical factions of that religion for the time!) shared some of the values with the nation's founding, they were not the source. I mean, our country's founding shares many values with Buddhism and Hinduism, too. Does that mean that we were founded upon Buddhist principles, and that our nation is one under the Dalai Lama?

The source was the Enlightenment, which was a movement that happened in spite of, and not because of, Christianity. There's a *reason* that Enlightenment Philosophers were rarely Christian.

Now, as to the religion of the founding fathers, which you are backing off on-- I think it's of vital importance for your claim, and here's why. Would a bunch of non-Christians agree to create a country founded upon it? No! And when we look at several of the influential leaders, we see Deists. Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Madison. The list goes on. These were people who greatly shaped the course of the country's founding, and they were not Christians-- at least, not in the sense that we're discussing: the Christian religion, probably including beliefs in its miracles and certainly in the God of the Bible. But even the Christians among them felt that their religion was their OWN BUSINESS and nobody else's.

My own claim does not rely on the individual religious convictions of the founding fathers (because my claim is that the country wasn't founded upon their religious convictions), but your claim does-- it relies on the fact they were not only Christians, but they founded the country on that religion's principles. If you cannot prove those two things, then you have accomplished nothing.

And certainly, people can disagree with their governments. Many Americans currently do. But I don't think (m)any of us disagree with the founding principles enumerated in the Constitution and in the Declaration of Independence. And remember, this is about the founding principles, not the current administration.

I repeat what I said previously: the fact that the largest religious group in this country is that of Christianity makes this a Christian nation only as far as the fact that white Americans are the largest racial group makes this a White Nation, or the fact that the majority of Americans are right-handed makes this a right-handed nation. (And by that I mean "not at all," if you don't get it. ;))

Furthermore, if you want to claim it's founded upon Christian Principles, then which sect's principles? Not all forms of Christianity have the same principles, and many(I'd say most, but I'm not as sure about that) of them in the 1700's had principles directly antithetical to those that this country was founded upon.

Essentially, you must look at the historical context. What was this nation founded upon? Was it founded upon Christian Principles, or the Principles of the Enlightenment?[2] Seeing as the Enlightenment was, at this time in history, mostly in competition with Christianity, it cannot be both, even if there is some overlap. We must look at which source the founding fathers drew their values from; which ones inspired them to believe as they believed-- even if similar beliefs could, in theory, be derived from another source.

Seeing that you have failed to demonstrate that the religious beliefs of the founding fathers was Christianity and that the country was founded with those principles (and proof of both is necessary for your side);

Noting that the founding fathers often corresponded with Enlightenment Philosophers such has Hume, read works of others such as Voltaire, or were prominent philosophers themselves, as is the case with Paine;

Asserting that their own words and deeds indicate that they were disciples of the Enlightenment,

I submit that it can only be concluded that the values that this country was founded upon were those of the Enlightenment-- and therefore, if they were drawn from ANY religion at all, it was Deism-- the religion nearly always associated with that movement.

Thank you.

1: Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Peter Carr
2: (Or some other set of principles not brought up, I suppose. Don't want to create a false Dichotomy.)
robzilla180

Pro

"Of the People, by the people and for the people" This is the reason that our gvn't shouldn't be avowedly Christian. Not everyone is Christian. The gvn't does allow you to be Christian in any way you want to be.
"The ideals of the country ARE ideals of the our government..."
If this is true think about this...
During the recent battle over immigration policy and amnesty, it was estimated that 70% of the people were against the bill being pushed through in the Senate by democrats, few republicans, and our President. If we were always a gvn't "Of the people..." Then they would've bowed to the will of the people more readily, but they didn't.

"Therefore, if the Declaration was based on the Enlightenment, it could be said to be indirectly based on whatever the Enlightenment is based on-- and that is most certainly *not* Christianity. Indeed, many Enlightenment philosophers got into a lot of trouble for their anti-Christian writings-- see Spinoza."

"The problem is that the Declaration was not based on anything other than freedom from England. The enlightenment didn't have anything to do with the declaration or vice versa.

"Now, as to the religion of the founding fathers, which you are backing off on-- I think it's of vital importance for your claim, and here's why. Would a bunch of non-Christians agree to create a country founded upon it? No! And when we look at several of the influential leaders, we see Deists. Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Madison. The list goes on. These were people who greatly shaped the course of the country's founding, and they were not Christians-- at least, not in the sense that we're discussing: the Christian religion, probably including beliefs in its miracles and certainly in the God of the Bible. But even the Christians among them felt that their religion was their OWN BUSINESS and nobody else's."

I'm only "backing off" because you can take a bunch of different out of context from the founders to prove anything...but here's something to think of...

On June 28, 1787, Franklin made a formal motion for prayers at the Constitutional Convention. The text of the motion itself reads:

"I therefore beg leave to move, That henceforth Prayers, imploring the Assistance of Heaven and its Blessing on our Deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to Business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that Service."

BTW, this was the Christian faith. This is not disputed by anyone who looks at the historical texts. I can post the full speech else where.

"My own claim does not rely on the individual religious convictions of the founding fathers (because my claim is that the country wasn't founded upon their religious convictions), but your claim does-- it relies on the fact they were not only Christians, but they founded the country on that religion's principles. If you cannot prove those two things, then you have accomplished nothing."

I thought that your claim was that America is not a Christian nation. It seems to me that you are trying to prove that America is not a Christian nation based on the fact that America's gvn't is not based on the Christian religion.
If this is the case, that's like ALMOST like trying to prove that Americans are for Illegal immigration just because many of our gvn't officials are for it. You have yet to address the fact that 80% of our nation professes to be a Christian. This would constitute a Christian nation, Actually I believe that due to some polls we are the MOST Christian nation in the world.

I think that we are quite close in agreement on the issue of the gvn't. I don't believe that the gvn't was OVERTLY founded on the Christian nation, but on some of the principles.

but that's not the debate now is it...?

Our debate is whether or not the American Nation is Christian. Throughout your posts, I have not yet seen you address thoroughly what the difference is between a gvn't is and a nation.

"Noting that the founding fathers often corresponded with Enlightenment Philosophers such has Hume, read works of others such as Voltaire, or were prominent philosophers themselves, as is the case with Paine; Asserting that their own words and deeds indicate that they were disciples of the Enlightenment,"

Other than a couple of quotes and your own personal opinion, you have not yet proven definitely that they were disciples of the enlightenment.

"I submit that it can only be concluded that the values that this country was founded upon were those of the Enlightenment-- and therefore, if they were drawn from ANY religion at all, it was Deism-- the religion nearly always associated with that movement."

Deism is a religion that claims that while God created the world, he left it up to humans to do pretty much what they would. Since "Deism" also claims that their is a God, quotes that talk about God can be slanted either way.

So in conclusion, I think the most stunning fact is that our nation is (80%) Christian. It doesn't matter that our current gvn't is not Christian, the current gvn't is out of touch with the people. The founders were Christian (as proved be a simple reading of their many of their letters, speeches, and wills which I will not put here because I don't have room) I do in fact believe that we are a Christian nation.
Debate Round No. 3
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by KarateCowboy 8 years ago
KarateCowboy
Interesting debate. Ozymandias what do you think of the fact that the Treaty of Tripoli was broken?
Posted by Ozymandias 9 years ago
Ozymandias
I would like to point out, though the debating period is over, that robzilla either lied or just missed my point when he said "You have yet to address the fact that 80% of our nation professes to be a Christian."

I did, in fact, address it-- in fact, I addressed it in round 2 and in round 3. I pointed out that a majority of the nation is right-handed, and that the largest racial group is white Americans, but that doesn't mean that this is a White Nation or a right-handed nation.

Now, he may have thought it was a bad comparison for some reason or other, but he did not post his refutation of said comparison, and he went on to claim, falsely, that I completely ignored the point that the comparison was a response to.

I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and just assume you missed it both times (I mean, it happens to the best of us). But, if you're still watching this debate, rob, could you clear up for me whether you intentionally lied or if it was an honest mistake?

Either way, it was an enjoyable debate! Thanks for all the comments; I agree that it we both debated quite ably, and I feel that rob was a worthy opponent for my first debate here. Now that finals are over for me, I'm going to try to get involved in a few more debates here.
Posted by PreacherFred 9 years ago
PreacherFred
This was truly a great debate on both sides. The answer is in the meanings being used...does "Nation" refer to the USA as it is commonly used or the more definitive description as given by pumpkinonwheels? I think that John Adams was making a point, as robzilla180 touched upon, that there is the difference between Christianity in principle and Christianity (religion/church) politic. Ben Franklin, however simply stated that he was not sure and wasn't going to spend too much time worrying about it since he would die soon and find out for certain then.

The argument that this nation was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment as opposed to being founded on the pure principles of Christ I find to be weak.

Setting my own personal opinions aside and voting just on the debate was very difficult. Robzilla180 has the ever so slightest of an edge, however. Ozymandias, you did a great job and are to be commended.
Posted by Ozymandias 9 years ago
Ozymandias
Well, yeah, that's true, but I used the terminology "nation" because that's the way it's always brought up. "America is a Christian *nation*, so let's ban everything Christianity disagrees with."
Posted by pumpkinonwheels 9 years ago
pumpkinonwheels
I'm not sure either one of you realize that "nation" and "state" have completely different meanings. The state is essentially the government; it is the political entity that controls a territory. A nation is a group of people who share a common background, history, ethnicity, culture, language, etc. (though not necessarily all of these are required to ba a nation). Not all nations are states (for example, all of the Native American Nations) and not all states are nations.

Technically, America is not a nation because we do not have that strong, coherent bond necessary to be a nation. A case could be made that we are a nation because of our traditions but most of those are patriotic in nature and therefore deal with the state and not the nation (Fourth of July, flying the flag, even Thanksgiving to a certain extent).

The point is that there is no way America could be a Christian nation because we are not a nation to begin with. The Pro side I believe touched on the fact that government and nation are separate, but just briefly so I thought I would make it more explicit.

Good debate to read, though! Well done.
Posted by goldspurs 9 years ago
goldspurs
I'm finding it hard to vote on this one. The Con gave a good argument, but I think the Pro did better. Yet this may be because I am bias and agree with what the Pro says. Either way it was a great debate. Congrats!
Posted by Ozymandias 9 years ago
Ozymandias
Alex, that was my point when I pointed that, say, the majority of Americans are right-handed, but that doesn't mean we're a right-handed country. rob failed to address this (twice!), despite the fact that it seemed his main premise was that the majority of Americans being Christian makes this a Christian country.
Posted by alexthemoderate 9 years ago
alexthemoderate
However, I've now realized my folly.

When you look at America, it could be said that it is inhabited mostly by people who claim to be Christian. That's a simple point. But does that make the nation Christian?

That's a harder case to make.
Posted by alexthemoderate 9 years ago
alexthemoderate
I'm still confused, where in the Constitution does it mention that the "God" has to be the Judeo-Christian God?

Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were both deists because they were fed up with organized religion. Most of the major founders were not of the same section of Christianity, and trust me, they knew what they were doing when they didn't say that it had to be the God of the Bible, otherwise, don't you think that they would have said something about the God of the Bible?

The Constitution is the highest law of the land. These great men, our founders, wanted us to be free from any sort of religious persecution, perhaps that's why the first line in the body of the Bill of Rights reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free practice thereof".

Sure, most of them are Christian. And most of U.S. citizens are Christian. We are by far the most religious (or at least religiously-claiming) democracy in the world. I won't dispute that. But did the founders want us to persecute others and make laws based on the beliefs of the many?

Our system was set up to theoretically save the little guy and give equality to those who sought it. Why do you not want to honor this creed?

The Constitution rules over all in this nation. A separation of Church and State there must be in order for the best public policy to be in place. Government with religion threatens theocracy, and that is precisely what the founders wanted to avoid (they had just gotten away from a monarchy with its own religion, what would give you the idea that they would want it again but with a new authority?)

There is nothing wrong with being religious. There's not that much wrong with going out and trying to convert people. But there is something very wrong with systematically telling people what religion they must profess.
Posted by Ozymandias 9 years ago
Ozymandias
Oh, and thanks for the debate! I enjoyed it.
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