Today marks the 228th birthday of the United States Constitution. Happy Constitution Day! I hope you bought enough candles for the cake.
To commemorate the day, let’s remember this: The United States is not now and never has been a Christian nation.
How do I know? Because the founding document that provides the framework for all laws, rules and regulations ever passed by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government nowhere mentions Christianity.
It doesn’t even mention God. Not once.
The only time the Constitution – adopted September 17, 1787 – mentions religion at all is in the negative:
… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. (Art. VI.)
The next time it’s brought up is in the 1st Amendment, proposed by Congress in 1789 as an additional article to the Constitution and ratified by the States in 1791, and again it’s in the negative:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … .
So if the original text of 1787 said religion has no place in the qualifications of people holding office and if the 1st Amendment leads off with a prohibition on the government establishing any religion, Christianity or otherwise, then how does someone come to the conclusion that the United States is a Christian nation?
Wishful thinking perhaps. Or living in a state of denial. Or blissful ignorance. Or worse, they do it to pander to people and take advantage of them.
In any case, none of these are good models for Christians to emulate. Jesus said we live in a world where there are two governments to live under.
“Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
… “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mark 12:14-17.)
Paul reiterated the distinction between the two governments:
For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. … Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:18-20.)
Neither Jesus nor Paul promoted a Christian nation of any sort on earth, and the U.S. Constitution doesn’t try to establish one either.
This is a wonderful country to live in, with a constitution that provides more for the benefit of its people than most people could even imagine possible. But while these are blessings from God when carried out to help people, that doesn’t make this a Christian nation.
After all, nations aren’t believers in Jesus. People believe in Jesus. And that’s how God builds the kingdom of Christ. Through his people.
What a great way to constitute his kingdom.