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ONE NATION, UNDER GOD
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” These great words, written by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a group of Danbury Baptists, originated the belief that the doctrine of separation of church and state was the original intent of the first amendment saying “…no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof…” Though we have this strong sense of separation between religion and politics, this boundary is sometimes overlooked because of the overwhelming dominance of Christianity in America. Though separation of church and state has often served as a pillar of support for our flourishing government, the Christian majority seems to override our secular-based government in many ways beginning in the days of the puritan colonists in the early 1800’s.
The United States of America is a nation whose democratic government is based on a system of separation between the state, or government, and the church, or religious affiliation…or is it? It seems as though everywhere you look in America, you see Christian allusions, morals, and values. This is apparent in everything from our laws, to limits on government research, to our pledge of allegiance, and even our nation’s wars. Every day, bills are passed that support Christian values or limit the ability to participate in possibly life saving research such as stem cell studies because they are seen as “against God”. Politicians in America are constantly quoting (or misquoting) Bible rhetoric in order to support specific public policies. Often these quotes are misinterpreted, misdirected, and misused in a manner that only perpetuates America’s growing ignorance for basic knowledge of religion. In a 2004 survey, it was concluded that approximately seventy six percent of American citizens consider themselves to be “Christians”. Amazingly, another study shows that only 50% of American adults can name ONE of the four gospels of Christianity. This tells me that many American “Christians” are Christians by association and not by values.
Because of this Christian majority, our voters tend to elect predominately Christian Senators, governors, and even Presidents. This shapes our government to be anything but separated from the Christian church, and most Americans are completely content with this idea. I, however, believe that we are living in the hypocrisy of a nation that claims to support freedom of expression and religion while simultaneously stifling minority religious beliefs or atheism. The nation turns a blind eye to those who may have beliefs other than Christianity. This is a disturbing reality considering the fact that, according to a 2005 sampling, only thirty-three percent of the world’s population consider themselves to be Christian. (This includes Protestant, Baptist, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc…).
By David McAfee
To Be Continued on…. 12/21/2009- Stay tuned for the next piece of the essay entitled “The Christian Majority”.