The United States is a Christian nation.
What do I mean by 'Christian nation'? I mean that the United States is not, in any sense, founded upon Christian ideology. (In other words, the majority of the people being Christian proves nothing here.)
Format is standard: Four rounds, first being acceptance, second being arguments, third rebuttals, and fourth closing statements/summaries. (No new arguments in the fourth round, please, although feel free to refute arguments/clear things up, etc.)
If anyone wishes to accept and has any questions or comments regarding the resolution, format, or anything else, feel free to leave a comment. Thank you in advance to anyone who accepts; it should be an interesting debate.
Nation: A large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.
Christian: Of, relating to, or professing Christianity or its teachings.
I thank my opponent for accepting this debate and look forward to his arguments. As I stated initially, the burden of proof lies on him to prove that United States is a Christian nation, so I won't go into a huge amount of detail in this first round.
But my argument is as follows: there is no evidence to support the claim that the United States is a Christian nation. To say that it is as almost literally a meaningless statement. I often here the argument that 95% of American identifies as Christian (I think the statistic has changed a bit recently, but it's still close to that), therefore it is a Christian nation. This is complete nonsense. One might as well call America a white nation since the majority of its residents are white, or a pro-death penalty nation since the majority favors capital punishment. The United States was founded on the ideas of secularism - it's as simple as that. Our constitution has no references to Christianity other than exclusionary ones (i.e. no religious test being required to serve in public office, separation of church and state). Our founders were mostly deists, and those who were self-identifying Christians were above all secularists.
There is simply no reason to think this is a Christian nation. I am looking forward to pro's reply and thank him again for accepting.
I would like to begin by thanking my opponent for initiating, as well as all of the people who will read and vote this debate.
I also accept my opponent’s definitions of the words nation and Christianity.
How can it be determined what makes a country a Christian nation? I propose we use several ideas from my opponent to set up the standards for determining the winner of the arguments.
In R1, he wrote of his position in this debate: “What do I mean by 'Christian nation’? I mean that the United States is not, in any sense, founded upon Christian ideology.” As the Pro to his Con, I must oppose this statement, and will therefore be arguing that the United States is founded upon Christian ideology, at least in some sense, and to do this, I will prove that many laws in the United States have a Christian foundation.
It should be noted that I do not have to prove that the ideas of the United States are solely Christian, excluding other faiths. All I have to prove is that our country’s ideas are Christian in some sense.
The framework that I have proposed based on a quote from R1 is also corroborated by Con’s R2 definition of Christian which is as follows: “Christian: Of, relating to, or professing Christianity or its teachings.” Once again, all I must do is prove that the United States’ ideals was based in some part on principles relating to the teachings of Christianity.
The foundation for laws in Christianity is the Ten Commandments. A number of these commandments are expressed in the laws, founding documents, and practices of the United States.
The first two commandments highlight the importance of belief and trust in God, God being the creator of the humans and the universe .
A belief in Christianity that is part of the United States’ ideology is its belief in God. The Christian religion teaches that we should have faith and trust in one God who created human life.
The belief in a creator is evidenced in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence. This document features the famous sentence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” . This sentence explains that we Americans also hold a belief in a Creator of humans.
The trust in God that is part of the Second Commandment which states “You shall have no other gods before me,” is evidenced in the American practice of having the phrase “In God we Trust” printed on all of our money.
Other important commandments ban stealing, murder, and perjury. These are all actions that are recognized as illegal in the United States.
Another Christian value is caring for those in need. There are many Bible verses that relate to this value including:
"Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:9.
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in." Matthew 25:35.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” 1 John 3:17-18. .
These values are expressed in the United States through such programs as food stamps and Medicaid which serve to help the poor.
It is clear that many of the laws in the United States have Christian foundations and serve Christian values. According to the framework that I have proposed based on Con’s definitions, I have fulfilled my BoP.
As my opponents arguments were brief, my rebuttals will be brief as well.
First, he claims that 95% of Americans being Christian and therefore we are a Christian nation is analogous to claiming that we are a white nation because the majority is white. This is a false analogy because a great many people’s personal beliefs impact the decisions they make politically. One only needs to look at the vast majority of the social conservative movement to see that this is true. On the other hand, most white people in America do not take race into account when making political decisions.
Con continues by claiming that most of the founding fathers were deists and those who were Christians were secularists. This claim is not supported by evidence, and therefore should be dismissed.
I have provided sufficient reasons for believing that the United States is, “in some sense, founded on Christian ideology.”
Pro is right when he says that all he needs to do is show that the United States' ideology is in some way founded on the Christian faith. Unfortunately, he has fallen immensely short of doing this.
Pro starts by trying to show that many of our founding documents are either based on Christian teaching or advocate Christian doctrines. He begins by citing the Declaration of Independence, quoting the line "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Here, I must pose a question to both pro and the readers: what part of this sentence indicates that it has any tie to Christianity? Pro creates a complete non sequitur by suggesting that a reference to a 'creator' must necessarily refer to the Christian God. There is no proof of this, nor does it even imply a Christian God. This excerpt from the Declaration only helps to prove my point. The sentence says "Creator" (instead of 'God,' 'Yahweh,' or anything more specific) because most of the founders were deists . (Pro was right when he said I did not source this in my initial argument. I do apologize for that, but I have now sourced it, so there shouldn't be a problem.)
Pro then goes on to say, "The trust in God that is part of the Second Commandment which states "You shall have no other gods before me," is evidenced in the American practice of having the phrase "In God we Trust" printed on all of our money." What pro fails to realize (or intentionally left out) is that the phrase "In God We Trust" was not printed on paper money until 1957, nor on coins until the Civil War . Nor, may I add, was it adopted as the national motto until 1956 ; further, the phrase "One nation under god" was not added to the pledge until 1954 . These things were all done in response to the so-called 'red scare.' From all this, we can conclude that it was not our founders' intentions to create a nation founded on the Christian religion.
"Other important commandments ban stealing, murder, and perjury. These are all actions that are recognized as illegal in the United States." Commandments that forbid stealing, murder, and perjury all long pre-date the Ten Commandments or the Christian religion. Specific examples here are endless, but I'll use the Code of Hammurabi as an obvious one . Furthermore, I think pro is really stretching his case thin if he is trying to prove that because our laws might have some overlap with Christian doctrine we are therefore 'founded' on Christian faith. But I digress.
Pro continues, "Another Christian value is caring for those in need," then proceeds to cite several Bible verses. This is complete illogic. He is suggesting here that Christianity has a monopoly over the idea of helping the poor and charity. Once again, these values long pre-date Christianity. Works of charity go as far back as the ancient Greeks, and are shared by a multitude of cultures . To say that our welfare programs are reflective of the Christian faith is complete distortion and a fabrication, as well as an insult to non-Christian philanthropists the world over.
In his argument, pro failed to draw any sort of logical or conclusive connection between the founding of our nation and the Christian faith.
In his rebuttal to my initial argument, pro claims I created a false analogy. This is not the case, nor does he offer any evidence to support his assertion. He attempts to make a case by arguing that "This is a false analogy because a great many people"s personal beliefs impact the decisions they make politically." Besides being another obvious non sequitur, this point is totally irrelevant. It doesn't matter if faith influences people when they vote; that has nothing to do with the analogy I made. My point was simply that saying 'since most Americans are X, our country must be founded on X.' You can use any number of analogies to show that this is true, the white analogy being only one.
Before I conclude, I'd like to elaborate on one of my arguments a bit; that is, that most of our founders were deists and secularists. To avoid redundancy, I'll keep this brief:
"The 1796 Treaty with Tripoli states that the United States was "not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." This was not an idle statement meant to satisfy Muslims-- they believed it and meant it. This treaty was written under the presidency of George Washington and signed under the presidency of John Adams" .
"That Jesus did not mean to impose Himself on mankind as the Son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in the lore." -- Thomas Jefferson's letter to William Short, August 4, 1820 . (Denying the divinity of Jesus is directly antithetical to Christian teaching.)
""I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology." - Thomas Jefferson .
"Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist." - Benjamin Franklin, admitting he was a deist .
"In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it." - Benjamin Franklin .
"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries." -James Madison, 1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches .
""The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity." - John Adams .
"The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession." - Abraham Lincoln
George Washington did not take communion and was a self-proclaimed deist .
More examples of this can be found in my first source, but these will do for now. Once again, our founding fathers were almost all deists and securest. We are governed by our Constitution, a secular document that omits all mention of God and whose only references to religion are exclusionary. The separation of church and state was established so that this country could never be founded on the ideals of one religion, but rather on secularism and skepticism. I have shown this in great detail using reliable sources; pro's tenuous case fell completely short of proving that this nation is, in any sense, Christian.
1 - http://freethought.mbdojo.com...
2 - http://www.treasury.gov...
3 - http://en.wikipedia.org...
4 - http://www.ushistory.org...
5 - http://en.wikipedia.org...
6 - http://learningtogive.org...
7 - http://www.infidels.org...
I do not have much time right now and Con has made some decent arguments, so I'll go ahead and concede.
That being said, I'd encourage readers not to vote on the concession. Pro seems to have some other stuff going on right now, and we can all relate to that. (Besides, I wouldn't feel right winning a debate because of a concession.) Please judge the debate as though it was only two rounds, and vote on pro's initial arguments and my rebuttals to them. This still isn't completely fair to pro because he never got to respond to my rebuttals, but I simply can't help that. I feel that I adequately refuted all of pro's claims and have made a good argument here, but I will ultimately leave that decision up to the voters.
Once again, thanks to pro for accepting, and thanks to any of you for reading and voting.
(Obviously, extend all arguments for round 4.)
Magicr forfeited this round.