Your vote is powerless to make America a Christian nation 

[An election season reminder from the archives.]

Nations aren’t believers in Jesus.jpg

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, decisions and regulations ever passed, enacted or handed down 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 of the United States – 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.)

Religion comes up again 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 citizens than most people could ever 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.


*The Articles of Confederation of 1777 – the governing charter of the United States before the Constitution – did not establish a Christian nation either. The only mention of religion is in Article III:

The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defence, the security of their Liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.

The inclusion of religion alongside “sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever” reflected the times: wars of religion were part and parcel of European history. This article did not endorse any religion but did stand to promote religious liberty by pledging aid for religiously based attacks.


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9 Responses to Your vote is powerless to make America a Christian nation 

  1. Excellent commentary on the _absence_ of religion in our founding documents, Tim. That is my informed understanding, as well. (I have NO idea where so many Evangelical Christians get that idea from, anyhow … )

    I quote from your post, above: “The inclusion of religion alongside “sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever” reflected the times: wars of religion were part and parcel of European history.” – is there any better reason to continue to keep religion out of government? To keep church and state separate? Thanks. @chaplaineliza

    • Tim says:

      Eliza, I can think of no more compelling argument than the historical record on that point.

    • Pastor Bob says:

      Partial Response to “I have NO idea where so many Evangelical Christians get that idea from, anyhow … ”

      When we as a nation held to the values in our own culture that were of biblical basis, and those who disavowed God still clung to those values, and of those disavowing peoples many would make reference to ‘looking out for the man upstairs’

      It is easy to draw the conclusion you question. Clearly it is not he religion bu the values referenced, but alas, there are those who would question good and evil with the same intensity and reach the conclusion that the historic good is indeed wrong.

      Thus it becomes easier to reject values that as of late are so inconvenient. Focus here would be on good manners? Why use them? Parents taught them, but why? Do we ever bring this back to cultural and religious values?

      • Annabelle says:

        Pastor Bob, I know what you mean – many people around me mourn the “good old days” when you could leave your house unlocked all day, when you could run a tab at the local store without being charged interest, when businesses were closed on Sundays and holidays (including Christian holy days).
        Lest we forget, those were also the days of severe oppression of black citizens and brutal treatment of civil rights workers. Not exactly a golden Christian era in American history. Maybe for white guys, it was.

  2. Shy1 says:

    Right on.

  3. Pingback: Weekly Meanderings, 12 November 2016 | TLG Christian News

  4. Pingback: Your vote is powerless to make America a Christian nation  – David's Space

  5. It is true that the US Federal gov’t is not supposed to have a religious test for public office. However, there are reasons for this. Each individual state considered itself its own nation in the ARW but they realized they needed to band together for the common defense against the Brits, who could easily squash them all one by one if it wanted to. After that they formed the Articles of Confederation, but these proved too weak a federation and then the Constitutional Convention was held to improve upon that. But many states had an established (state) religion that was funded by state taxation, although some did not. For the US federation of states, no one could agree on what if any the religious test should be, so that only compromise possible was not to have one. Over time the states that had an established religion disestablished it. In theory, it would still be possible for a state to establish a religion for that state.

  6. B. Griffin Moon says:

    Granted the con could be more blatantly Christian than it is, but I know fifty reasons the Con IS a Christian document.

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