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Was the United States founded as a secular republic?

  • Roger Williams/ John WInthrop

    The separation of church and state was achieved against great odds by Roger Williams, establishing Providence Plantations as the first modern secular democracy, whereby the civil government had no say in church affairs. Winthrop helped by refusing to let the clergy into proceedings of the civil court, protecting the state from the church. This led to Jefferson writing the first amendment.

  • Only what it written in the Constitution matters.

    The Constitution is an enlightenment document written in the long shadows of the Reformation and the subsequent wars of religion, conflicts that were based on state religions. Europe was torn apart and millions killed and maimed.

    The "founding fathers" knew their history better than today's Christian nationalists. The authors of the Constitution sought to avoid any hint of a state religion, knowing its economic and human costs. Furthermore, there is no mention of Christianity in the Constitution. Religion is a matter of conscience and therefore a private not a public matter.

    Bringing the Declaration of Independence into this argument is disingenuous. It is not a governing document like the Constitution. Jefferson's brilliantly Lockean diatribe is a litany of complaints against the British and a statement of humanistic principles written in the style of the day; it's not a call to rally around the cross.

    Posted by: mix
  • The Constitution does not mention Christianity once.

    The Constitution is an enlightenment document and one written in the long shadows of the Reformation and the subsequent wars of religion, conflicts that were based on state religions and tore Europe apart, killing millions. The authors of the Constitution clearly sought to avoid any hint of a state religion, knowing its economic and human costs. For this reason, religion is matter of conscience and therefore a private not a public matter in the Constitution.

    Bringing the Declaration of Independence into this argument is disingenuous. It is not a governing document like the Constitution. The DoI is a litany of complaints against the British and a statement of humanistic principles written in the style of the day.

  • YES

    The very reason that so many people came to the New World originally in the first place was to escape religious persecution. This is what we are taught in school, anyway.

    Furthermore, many of the Founding Fathers made it very clear in letters and other documents that this country was not established to serve as some theocracy. Many of them were religious, but many more were also Deists or Agnostics, so to think that we were established as anything other than as a secular republic seems to be contrary to the reality of our Founding Fathers.

  • Yes.

    Very much so. The entire concept of the United States of America was based on the fact that they had fled from the religious persecution of England, and wanted no part of that here in the New World. The government's founding documents were carefully worded to keep religion out of the government.

  • Yes, it is very obvious

    The reason that people left England and came to America was to escape religious persecution. For this reason, the government was formed very carefully to be separate from any religion. This, by definition, is secular. Since it is secular, that means that everyone has the freedom of worshiping in any way he or she wishes.

  • No, I do not believe that the United States was founded to be a secular republic.

    The United States was settled by pioneers seeking religious freedom. I believe that America's founders intended religion to be an intrinsic part of our culture. This is stated in our pledge of allegiance, and it is imprinted on our money. Faith was clearly of importance to the founding fathers. It is my opinion that the United States was intended to be a free place for both the secular and the people of faith. Nevertheless the United States was not intended to be a secular republic. Americas founding fathers intended for faith to be a part of the foundation of our country.

  • Religion was at the heart of all the changes to the new world

    You need look no further than the Declaration of Independence for references to god. If the references were made in what is believed to be the single most important document in the US then the underlying beliefs or overt beliefs of its creators is surely evident.
    1. “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles them (Declaration of Independence)
    2. “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 (Declaration of Independence)
    3. “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” (Declaration of Independence)
    Using this one document and the subsequent decisions in law that stem from it I don't see how there is anything secular in the founding of the country.
    The reasons for people leaving England for the new world were as different and varied as the people themselves. I was not only the oppression and tyranny of the churches but also the state and monarchy.
    When people left they took their religious beliefs with them. Christianity stood at the heart of those beliefs and consequently was entrenched in the new laws and to the standard of morality upon which those laws were founded.
    One final point. Other than religion, what is the point of having businesses closed on Sunday?


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