Myth: The Founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian republic.

Fact: If the Founders had wanted a Christian republic, they would have made one.


If the Founders had intended this to be a Christian Republic, they would not have separated Church and State in the constitution. Besides, many of the founders were Deists or atheists, not Christians; it would have been impossible for them to intend a Christian Republic.


The First Amendment states: Article VI, Section 3 of the constitution also states: By now virtually everyone knows the argument that making the United States a Christian republic would violate the First Amendment rights of Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, atheists, agnostics, etc. But fewer people realize that it would also violate the First Amendment rights of Christians as well. Which of the 2,500 Christian denominations would we choose as the Christian orthodoxy upon which to base the republic? Seventh-day Adventists and Catholics are complete opposites to each other, and, in fact, are sworn enemies. Thus, a Christian Republic would certainly involve a small minority forcing its views on the majority.

Be that as it may, did the Founders actually intend for Christianity to play a greater role in our society than it has? Prior to the constitution, 11 of 13 states had religious qualifications for public office. These were limited to Christians only, and sometimes even Protestants only. However, the Constitutional Convention voted down such qualifications, creating the separation of church and state that we find in the First Amendment today. If this is not proof of the Founders intentions, then what is?

One should remember that the Founders lived in the 18th century, just as the horrors of the Inquisition were winding down. Anyone who overly opposed the Roman Catholic Church was arrested by the Inquisition as a heretic. They were tortured until they confessed their guilt, then handed over to the state for execution. The state, in full partnership with the church, would then prove its loyalty by carrying out the execution. Those Founders who were Christians were Protestants, and had they lived in Europe they would have been persecuted by the Inquisition. It was this identification with "heretics" that compelled them to build "a wall of separation between Church and State."

This famous phrase was coined by Thomas Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptists: Some Christians have tried to argue that this wall is "one-way," that the state may not interfere with religion, but religion may interfere with the state. However, this is an impossibility, since by definition any control that a denomination achieves over the state will automatically become state infringement on the religious rights of others.

Besides, many of the Founders were hardly Christians. There were several Deists, most prominent among them Thomas Jefferson. Deism rejected formal or organized religion, including Christianity; it taught that people should depend on human reasoning, not revealed truths, to discern what is true in the world. Deism rejected the divinity of Jesus and ascribed his miracles and resurrection to "mysticisms, fancies and falsehoods" (Jefferson's words).

Another standout is Benjamin Franklin. The body of his work strongly suggests that he was an atheist. Like most atheist politicians since, Franklin was not so impolitic as to broadcast this fact. He sometimes evoked Providence or God in his speeches, ever mindful of his Christian audiences. But anyone familiar with Franklin's writings knows of his true philosophy towards religion.

Thus, the fact that not all the Founders were Christians, and that they actually removed a widespread Christian qualification for office in the U.S. constitution, proves that the Founders did not intend this to be a Christian republic.

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