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The Contender
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The United States, at it's founding, was a Christian-led state

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/4/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,090 times Debate No: 15786
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (2)






If you have any problem with the debate please post in the comments section first so we can try to come to an agreement before starting.
It is expected that both parties act in good faith, eg no semantics, no cheap shots.
Also, this is my first debate on here, so if my methods aren't typical of what is done on this site, I apologize in advance

Opening Argument:

The United States is NOT a Christian State. While it is true that many fo the first groups to arrive were religious, most of Founding Fathers were not and therefore, the very structure of our government is based not in Christian values, but rather, Secular ones.
For example, Thomas Jefferson, who drafted our Declaration of Independance, said,

"Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination."
-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

Also, James Madison was quoted with,
"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."
- James Madison

The undeniable fact that our founding fathers were firmly against the establishment of a state religion points to the plain truth: We live in a secular country.


I thank my opponent for this debate
I encourage all to review the Primary Source documentation I will be presenting, due to the spurious attacks of a historical fact by “New Militant Athiesm”.
I ask my opponent to completely refrain from sourcing sites like wikepedia or militant atheist propoganda utilizing revisionist ideology for a historical or theological framework or understanding. Please use and link directly primary source documentation that validates the opposing historical viewpoint.
Contention 1) In the History prior to 1920 the Church Pulpits were credited with the Revolution
As a body of men, the clergy were pre-eminent in their attachment to Liberty.The pulpits of the land rang with the notes of freedom. The American Quarterly Register [MAGAZINE], 1833
If Christian ministers had not preached and prayed, there might have been no revolution as yet - or had it broken out, it might have been crushed. Bibliotheca Sacra [BRITISH PERIODICAL], 1856
The ministers of the Revolution were, like their Puritan predecessors, bold and fearless in the cause of their country. No class of men contributed more to carry forward the Revolution and to achieve our independence than did the ministers. . . . [B]y their prayers, patriotic sermons, and services [they] rendered the highest assistance to the civil government, the army, and the country. B. F. Morris, HISTORIAN, 1864
The Constitutional Convention and the written Constitution were the children of the pulpit. Alice Baldwin, HISTORIAN, 1918
My opponent would have to show there was even a contrary debate or contrary evidence that it was not the commonly held belief directly after the revolution or the century following
Contention 2) The generations leading up to the revolution and design of the American Form of Democracy at the founding was initiated, led and crafted with the Pulpits.
There are clear examples of the same governments formed within the Christian Colonies
Ex: 1 – 1620 the Pilgrims Landed, Pastor John Robinson Charged them with electing leaders from among themselves that would seek a common good but also eliminate elitist special privileges that separates the governors and the governed.
“Lastly, whereas you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminency above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government; let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good, but also in yielding unto them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations, not beholding in them the ordinariness of their persons, but God's ordinance for your good”
The Pilgrims created the first “bill of rights” in America. I have linked their entire legal and government structure for your review
Ex: 2 – 1630 Puritans land in Mass. They establish Representative Government with annual elections. 1641 they establish a bill of rights called the body of liberties, the Reverend Nathaniel Ward drafted this.
Ex:3 - 1636 The Rhode Island colony was established by Reverend Roger Williams and founded an elective form of Government, that increase religious denominational toleration and minimized use of governmental force for edicts against religious separatism.
The Minister Dr. John Clark secured the charter presenting this form of Government just a few years later.
Ex 4: The 1619 Virginia House of Burgesses was the first popular elected legislature.
This legislative body was held in the church and here is John Pory’s first account to the opening from a secular source….
But forasmuch as men's affaires doe litle prosper where God's service is neglected, all the Burgesses tooke their places in the Quire till a prayer was said by Mr. Bucke, the Minister, that it would please God to guide and sanctifie all our proceedings to his own glory and the good of this Plantation ... The Speaker ... delivered in briefe to the whole assembly the occasions of their meeting. Which done he read unto them the commission for establishing the Counsell of Estate and the general Assembly, wherein their duties were described to the life ... And forasmuch as our intente is to establish one equall and uniforme kinde of government over all Virginia &c.
– John Pory, "A Reporte of the Manner of Proceeding in the General Assembly Convented at James City" (July 30, 1619)
Ex 5: In 1676 New Jersey was divided into two religious subcolonies. Puritan East Jersey and Quaker West Jersey. The Quaker Minister William Penn wrote the governing document for West Jersey.
Ex 6: In 1681, Quaker Minister William Penn also wrote the Frame of Government for Pennsylvania. It, too, established annual elections and provided numerous guarantees for citizen rights, like a bill of rights.
William Penn’s work show clear development of an ancient constitution allowing religious tolerance, no taxation without representation etc…
I could go on and on but these are just some keystone states that developed the Declaration of Ind., the bill of rights, and the constitution.
Contention 3) The signers of the Declaration of Independence were 98% all Christians.
Even if my opponent can cite an out of context quote of a few of the founding fathers the VAST majority of the founding fathers were indeed Christians and even Ministers
Contention 4) The biblical book of Exodus lays out a representative government structured like America, God first, then a patriarch of any sort, selected leaders of groups of men and then the men themselves.
This was even taught by the founder of Conneticut Rev Thomas Hooker.
1638 sermon based on Deuteronomy 1:13 and Exodus 18:21, the Rev. Hooker explained the three Biblical principles that had guided the plan of government in Connecticut:
I. [T]he choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's own allowance.
II. The privilege of election . . . belongs to the people . . .
III. They who have power to appoint officers and magistrates [i.e., the people], it is in their power also to set the bounds and limitations of the power and place
- Also, Famed Historian and Professor Clinton Rossiter of Cornwell University cites:
“[T]he Bible gave a healthy spur to the belief in a written constitution. The Mosaic Code, too, was a higher law that men could live by - and appeal to - against the decrees and whims of ordinary men.”
Clinton Rossiter, Seedtime of the Republic (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1953)
Contention 5) The original state constitutions clearly speak of the Christian God prevelant in the country.
Rebuttal A few out of context quotes from some of the founding fathers does not make a case.... that is absurd.....
did you even read the documents and context where those quotes came from?

See comments on the links and actual context of quotes - out of Characters.

I have posted an outstanding amount of data:
- I have shown that charters for the Christian Colonies read as exactly that of the original versions of Constitution, bill of rights and declaration of independence.
- I have shown that 1800’s marked the pulpit as responsible for the revolution
- I have shown that State Constitutions look to God as the originator of their ability to govern themselves.
- I have shown that even the elected governance is a biblical concept and was defended by Pastors during sermons very early on in American Colonial History.
- I have pointed to the fact that the VAST majority of signers of the Declaration of Ind. etc.. Were indeed Christian.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for your argument. It was very well written and your sources are good. However, I would like to point out that the founding of the independent colonies under Christian rule is irrelevant to the unity of those colonies under the constitution.

The Establishment Clause of the first Amendment, makes it clear that the United States does not declare a state religion nor meddle with the affairs of religion. As James Madison the author of the First Amendment put it "There is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion".

Even further, the Supreme Court Case, "Everson V. Board of Education, which challenged the establishment of a State religion, Justice Hugo Black said of the Issue,

"The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect "a wall of separation between church and State."


I thank my opponent for the reply
However, that was by no means a rebuttal, you have one more round to actually offer a rebuttal to my contentions.
You started to offer a rebuttal to one small aspect of one of my contentions, at least I think it was a rebuttal?
Opponent’s Contentions/rebuttal?)
1)To quote my opponent:
“I would like to point out that the founding of the independent colonies under Christian rule is irrelevant to the unity of those colonies under the constitution.”
- Perhaps my opponent does not understand the resolution? My Contention is completely relevant… The Christian Colonies, which I cited for your reference, all had the same form of Government that we took on within the constitution in 1787. Christians clearly led the government during its formation and at’s its founding.
- Is my opponent suggesting that with so many Christians rampant in the countryside that this was pure random chance the very government form that was adopted happened to be a Christian and even pulpit taught form of Government for nearly 200 years prior?
2) To quote my opponent:
The Establishment Clause of the first Amendment, makes it clear that the United States does not declare a state religion nor meddle with the affairs of religion. As James Madison the author of the First Amendment put it "There is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion"
- I applaud this statement and I even completely agree with it! However, the fact that the GOVERNMENT is restricted in the affairs of ESTABLISHING a STATE Religion, does not mean that Christians did not indeed propose this exact concept. It does not logically follow.
- Most Christians were with James Madison in agreeing, as pointed out in (“Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments”), they all wanted to ensure there was no “state” religion as in England and the Catholic Nations. They wanted everyone to freely choose of their own inclination and within their own relationship with God which denomination was accurate and not be “forced” to be Catholic based on geography. This “seperation” or “disallowance” of a “State sponsored” Religion would allow for freedom for all denominations, creeds and religions.
- This is great news! However, not wanting to establish government sponsored religion does not make everyone secular, again non-sequitor.
3)My opponent cites “Everson V. Board of Education”
- Did my opponent even know what happened during this court case?
- To quote the constitution
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
This challenge was made against the states establishing special privaleges for certain denominations. The supreme court said they could not do that.
- Ignoring the fact that the Supreme court has no authority to challenge a “states” sovereignty to establish a state religion… there was no statement in this court case that supports my opponents side of the resolution, a statement like “America was secular at its founding”
It is quite irrelavent to the resolution…
- To be pointed, if indeed the majority of the citizens in the state of Mass wanted the “Sunday Laws” re-established to their puritan fullness, Mass has the soverign right to do so according to its own sovereign constitution.
- The federal constitution bars the federal government alone from making these “establishment” laws. This court case is cited as an extreme abuse of the supreme courts power.
- In fact many of the “Sunday laws” are still very much on the books in the states and they are not deemed unconstitutional. Sunday Blue laws are an example where no alcohol can be served on Sundays etc.

- Additionally, a previous and earlier court case in the Federal Supreme Court came to the opposite conclusion than the 1947 justices on the exact same document by Jefferson.

Here is the citation of the early court decision on the Jefferson statement -
Earlier courts long understood Jefferson's intent of "seperation of church and state". In fact, when Jefferson's letter was invoked by the Supreme Court (only twice prior to the 1947 Everson case – the Reynolds v. United States case in 1878), unlike today's Courts which publish only his eight-word separation phrase, that earlier Court published Jefferson's entire letter and then concluded:
Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it [Jefferson's letter] may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the Amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere [religious] opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.
That Court then succinctly summarized Jefferson's intent for "separation of church and state":
[T]he rightful purposes of civil government are for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order. In th[is] . . . is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the State.
With this even the Baptists had agreed; for while wanting to see the government prohibited from interfering with or limiting religious activities, they also had declared it a legitimate function of government "to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor."
That Court, therefore, and others (for example, Commonwealth v. Nesbit and Lindenmuller v. The People), identified actions into which – if perpetrated in the name of religion – the government did have legitimate reason to intrude.
Those activities included human sacrifice, polygamy, bigamy, concubinage, incest, infanticide, parricide, advocation and promotion of immorality, etc.
Such acts, even if perpetrated in the name of religion, would be stopped by the government since, as the Court had explained, they were "subversive of good order" and were "overt acts against peace." However, the government was never to interfere with traditional religious practices outlined in "the Books of the Law and the Gospel" – whether public prayer, the use of the Scriptures, public acknowledgements of God, etc.

I ask my opponent with the last round he has available to cite a source positive to his case for the resolution and not off topic.
Just citing a court case that states "seperation of church and state" which was faulty and stupid on the court part,
We have seen in my case,
1) A clear track record of the same form of government already in existence for nearly 200 years within a multitude of Christian Colonies
2) We have seen the Vast majority (and I would argue all) of the signers and participants in the formation of the government called “founding fathers” were indeed Christian
3) You can see that the founders even argued that stopping the creation of a state supported religion was against Christian moral values and Christian liberty.
4) I have cited historians that indeed credit the very revolution to the pulpits themselves!
5) I have shown the states constitutions also ratified by the vast majority of Christians. I have even linked them for my opponent to review.
6) I have shown that this form of government was even taught by the pulpit from the early 1600’s and was also contained within the bible itself.
7) I have also now shown that a supreme court closer to the events drew a different conclusion than the 1947 justices and indeed the 1947 case conclusions were flawed, though this in no way support my opponents position even if the justices were indeed correct.
We have not seen a positive case made by my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2


initiumnovum forfeited this round.


My opponent has given no argument to refute my sources, the factual historical primary source documentation nor any of my contentions.

Now his account is inactive? I have no idea why.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Gileandos 6 years ago
Thank you sir!

What makes you giggle?
Posted by innomen 6 years ago
Con's performance is pretty pathetic in this debate. Objectively looking at this debate it would seem that there is more than enough opportunity for Pro to make at least a minimal effort in refuting Con's arguments, or questioning his source material. Kudos to Pro for a well prepared argument.
Posted by socialpinko 6 years ago
Pro's arguments make me giggle. :)
Posted by Gileandos 6 years ago
btw He spends much of the text defending the moral intentions of Christianity, let me know when you have read this.
Posted by Gileandos 6 years ago
Here is the James Madison quote:
Clearly this quote was butchered.

Here is what James Madison states as the first paragraph.
"We the subscribers, citizens of the said Commonwealth, having taken into serious consideration, a Bill printed by order of the last Session of General Assembly, entitled "A Bill establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion," and conceiving that the same if finally armed with the sanctions of a law, will be a dangerous abuse of power, are bound as faithful members of a free State to remonstrate against it, and to declare the reasons by which we are determined. We remonstrate against the said Bill",

1. Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, "that Religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence."
WOW that puts everything into context...
He does not wish to use civil powers to give provision to force a specific Christian denomination but calls for evangelism.

Your quote was directly showing that the Catholic Church sought to do this before in history. They were wrong to do so is James Madison's claim.

Read the whole document next time and you won't get snookered with your shorts down.
Posted by Gileandos 6 years ago
I will accept tonight when I am on my computer.
Posted by Gileandos 6 years ago
The timeframes need to be changed as well. 72 hours for a post and three rounds max.
Posted by Gileandos 6 years ago
I will take this debate,
A couple of points of clarity.
We need to put the resolution
"The United States at its founding was a Christian Led Country".

I believe that is was you are arguing from the quotes of the founding fathers.

I will not argue for today, as throughout its history secular, then Christians have waxed and waned in power.

Also will need 72 hours for posting arguments. Three rounds will be the max as well. I wish to avoid Ad Naseum of out of context Historical Fathers quotes.
Posted by ourgodisaconsumingfire 6 years ago
Define what you mean ? it is not really clear are you talking about the founding or its present state
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by GMDebater 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: Pro because of the forfeit Arguments: Pro's arguments were strong and not refutee Source: Pro used many great sources. Both sides made mistakes.
Vote Placed by ReformedArsenal 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: ff