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Is America a Christian Nation?
Readers Respond to Chuck Colson

by Michael Shermer, Nov 22 2011

On November 4, the Los Angeles Times published my Opinion Editorial entitled “What’s God Got to do With it?” (which I also posted on Skepticblog) about Congress reaffirming our national motto “In God We Trust.” I argued that trust does not come from God but from very specific social, political, and economic institutions.

Chuck Colson, the one-time special counsel for President Richard Nixon, one of the Watergate Seven who also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in his attempt to defame the Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg, and the man who found God and Jesus just in time for his jail sentence in federal prison, now blogs on political and social issues from a Christian perspective and has attempted a smack-down of my Op-Ed by arguing that “God Has a Lot to Do With It.”

His argument is summarized in his own words thusly:

It was Christianity, you see, that taught the West that all human beings are created in the image of God. Without that understanding, the very words of the Declaration of Independence, “that all Men are created equal, that they endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights,” could never have been written.

Most of all, our ideas about what constitutes a free and secure society are derived from Christianity. Political scientist Glenn Tinder has written about how much of what we celebrate in our society, like the “respect for the individual and a belief in the essential equality of all human beings,” has “strong roots in the union of the spiritual and the political achieved in the vision of Christianity.”

Before I respond in my next blog with a deeper historical analysis of how equality, liberty, prosperity, and trust arose well ahead of religious doctrines (see, in the mean time, Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature for a thorough history of this development), I tweeted the link to Colson’s rebuttal and asked my readers to respond in their own way, which they did with some very cogent points:

Nicholas Johnson writes:

Those poor Greeks and Romans. They knew nothing, apparently.

Nathan George writes:

It should be pointed out that Colson seems to dismiss science by saying “the science Shermer puts so much stock in” as he types this very statement on his computer which science, not Christianity, is responsible for.

David Carmer writes:

It is the height of hypocrisy to say that we, as a nation, trust in a deity. If we truly had sincere trust we’d need no army, no judicial system, no anti-trust laws, no prison system, no government oversight, and so on. An honest deep felt trust in God would logically lead to us living in a lawless state wherein we expected our benevolent protector to handle the details and to keep us safe. To embrace the motto, shouldn’t we get rid of all those laws and government organizations that are designed especially because we cannot trust in divine intervention? 

Hans Van Ingelgom writes:

The biggest problem I face when discussing Christianity is that I don’t know what it stands for. Christianity is subdivided in countless branches, often with opposing views. You can’t simply discuss somebody’s views just by knowing he’s a Christian. Does respect for the individual include the right of gay marriage? Should the state be neutral to religion, respecting individual choices? It depends on what Christian you ask.

David Schumacher writes:

You might remind Colson that some of the Christian founders were still using spectral evidence to put people to death as recently as the witch killings of Salem.

David Allen writes:

The response to Chuck is easy—Christ was a wise man and Christian values are good, but no god is needed to come up with those values. And as for him citing the Declaration of Independence and the words “All men are created equal”—those words were written by men who held slaves, so the words ring hollow.

Mark Bowermaster writes:

Yeah, because nothing says free and secure like an omnipotent cloud wizard demanding your allegiance by threat of never ending immolation.

Adam Qureshi writes:

His argument does not even pass the null hypothesis. What the heck did we do before Christianity came along a mere 2 thousand years ago?

Eric Lawton writes:

The ancient Greeks were just as much a source of all these values such as the rule of law. Christianity plunged us into centuries of dark ages, superstition and theocracy. Of course those people, the early Protestants, who helped us to restore these values through the enlightenment were Christians, because it was pretty much illegal not to be. But it doesn’t prove that it was because they were Christians that they did that; otherwise it would have happened much earlier. It was the beginning of our escape from Christianity and a return to secular values which got us where we are, and is one of the reasons for the separation of Church and State in the U.S.

Peter McCully writes:

And what has Christianity given us concerning the rights of homosexuals, women, slaves or even animals? Most, if not all of the advances in human rights over the last two hundred years or so have been a gradual unpicking of the stitches in Christianity’s fabric. Nice of the church to take credit for it though.

David Serbin writes:

Colton is both right and wrong. Education, laws, and enforcement of laws do have some root in religion. But what Colton forgets is that these were bad things. Education for centuries meant hitting children, dress codes, and other awful practices that are only practiced today by private religious schools (although as we’ve seen with Penn State and other teacher’s scandals, public schools aren’t great either). Another problem is that citing the law from the Bible begs the question: which laws? Laws that stone adulterers or ban gay marriage? Surely those laws don’t make society any better off. Finally, Colton says that God is responsible for freedom of the individual, equality, and security. But banning gay marriage does not increase individuality nor equality. The Founders were of varying religious beliefs, but they fled in part due to the Church of England and they would be rolling in their graves if they saw the way that Christians have abused their 1st amendment right of freedom of religion to try and make this country a theocracy by using the state to put God on the pledge, the dollar, and anywhere and everywhere possible.

Jerry Jaffe writes:

When the bible tells us to stone our neighbors to death (Deut. 17 2–5) and we don’t, is that because we know right from wrong without reference to the bible, perhaps?

Andi Wolfe writes:

How very convenient that Colson forgets that the Declaration of Independence did not apply to slaves and women. If you really want to invoke a religion that values all humans, respects individuals, and promotes the essential equality of all human beings, look to the Buddhists. They actually live their lives as if their beliefs have meaning.

Will Colon writes:

You might be inclined to point out that if religion—specifically Christianity—is in some way responsible for the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans, why is it that historically theocratic nations or nations endorsing a particular religion have been home to some of the most illiberal treatment of humans in our species’ history. The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God by Jonathan Kirsch is a good book that touches on this; specifically it highlights how the absolutism of religion—again, specifically Christianity—lends itself to scenarios like the Inquisition and the injustices that dovetail along with it. It’s also worth noting that while many of our Founding Fathers did hold some belief in a creator—a common belief of the time—a great number of them were Deists who were deeply skeptical of the Christian god.

Bob Makin writes:

As to the claim that a free and secure society is derived from Christianity, may I enquire as to what the practice of slavery, the Inquisition and pogroms against the Jews have to do with freedom and security? I would think that the capriciousness of that religion does more to inject a great degree of uncertainty into any civilization which finds itself under its influence. Given that God has been a merciless and cruel dictator given to fits of rage, widespread destruction of entire societies, not to mention the annihilation of the entire population of the earth, I fail to see that being created in his image is any kind of recommendation.

David Kaloyanides writes:

Colson ignores the foundation of democracy in Athens more than 500 years before Christianity existed. He ignores the code of Hamurrabi, which is our oldest codified set of laws that governed the behavior of humans. He also ignores the teachings of the New Testament where Christians were called upon to obey whatever governing authority existed at the time as such was established by God. Colson also ignores the amazing educational progress of the far east where most people were literate while the early Christians were not. Colson also equates the West’s scientific pursuits to Christianity when in fact it was the Renaissance—the rediscovery of the Greek and Roman culture and science that spurred the growth of both science and political thinking. Finally, the founders of our nation were “Christians” loosely speaking. But they were nothing like a Colson Christian. Nothing in Christianity supports democratic thinking. Rather, it promotes totalitarianism form of theocracy. It does not support capitalism, as Christians are expressly taught to shun the material and share all worldly possessions in common. The language of the New Testament lends itself more to a communist than capitalist economic world view. But as the New Testament was not interested in politics or economic policy, Colson is just wrong about how its teachings promoted our system of government today.

Joe Seither writes:

There is simply no expressly religious language in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights—except the parts that make absolutely crystal-clear that religion and politics should remain independent from one another. Now, this is a really important point, given that many of the founders were theists, but also with some deists, freethinkers and freemasons in the mix. Given this, it’s no accident or trivial point that they enshrined in the very first amendment a separation between government and religion. The fact that some or many of the founders were men of faith adds much gravity to the proposition that the anti-establishment principle and language they agreed upon—and signed their names to—was no mere accident. It was intentional.

Recommended Reading

79 Responses to “Is America a Christian Nation?
Readers Respond to Chuck Colson”

  1. Trimegistus says:

    It is nevertheless true that a majority of Americans are, in fact, Christian. One can describe America as a Christian country just as one would describe Turkey as a Muslim country or India as a Hindu country. It is also true that America’s founders came from a society steeped in Christianity and Christian concepts and assumptions. These are verifiable facts, not “Christianist” propaganda.

    Denying that and pretending that America was, is, can be, or should be some sort of religion-free zone is a denial of reality. I thought being a skeptic was all about valuing reality over fantasy.

    • Michael M. says:

      There is a distinct and important difference between saying “A majority of Americans are Christian” and “America is a Christian nation”.

      While what you say is true, a large part of America’s citizenry identifies with that faith, it is not right or fair to characterize the nation at large in this way. This is a nation of the people, not a nation of any one group of people, including Christians. I am not a Christian, but I am an American and I claim that right.

      I believe that, more reasonably, the idea is not to create a ‘religion free’ zone, but to maintain a strict separation of church and state to ensure that everyone is represented equally and justly.

      Finally, no one said the word propaganda or Christianist. You added that.

    • tmac57 says:

      The majority of Americans are also poorly educated.Therefore,one can describe America as an ignorant country.Generalizations can cut both ways.

    • Beelzebud says:

      Who said America should be a “religion-free zone”?

      No one denies that a majority of citizens are christians. The point is that this nation wasn’t founded as a christian theocracy. The constitution is very clear that we are not a christian nation.

      • woodji517 says:

        I can’t help but think about our currency. If at some point we weren’t founded with Christian principles then why would “In God We Trust” be on our money?

  2. CRS says:

    How about an argument from architecture? Plenty of the Founding Fathers dabbled in it and thought it essential.

    I challenge him to find a single cross on any US Government building from any date in DC.

    By the time he has found one, I will still be counting the neoclassical pagan temples that our government does it’s business in, adorned with sculptures of virtues, gods, goddesses, and unitarians; festooned with flags that feature no religious iconography; under great eagles that specifically recall the Roman Republic; across a mall that echoes the Circus Maximus.

    I could go on and on. But the founders already did.

    • Brian Sheldon says:

      I hear what you are saying, Not all of our nations forefathers were icons of Christian Faith. However, our country’s forefathers did leave marks of faith in and on government buildings still in use today. Check out the Supreme Court House, the TEN COMMANDMENTS are inscribed upon its walls, along as host of other finger prints of Christianity, that go unnoticed daily.

    • Seth Barselou says:

      Isn’t DC in the shape of cross, with the capital building at the foot of the cross?

  3. Fred Jones says:

    “Denying that and pretending that America was, is, can be, or should be some sort of religion-free zone is a denial of reality.”

    Strawman. No one has said that.

  4. Colson should really research Thomas Jefferson before citing him in support of any religious position.

    With the understanding that the Declaration of Independence holds no weight in law,

    “All men are created equal”—those words were written by a man who rejected belief in miracles, the trinity, and the divinity of Christ. He was also man expressly and fervently in favor of the separation of church and state.

    He was a man who wrote the following words:

    “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason than of blindfolded fear. … Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it end in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others which it will procure for you”

  5. Beelzebud says:

    So this is how you get Shermer to respond to his blog. You just have to be published in a major newspaper!

  6. Chris Howard says:

    I guess it hinges on the operational definition of “Christian Nation.”
    Does that mean that since the majority of U.S. citizens have, are, and probably will maintain the Christian majority we are a “Christian Nation”?
    Or is it more accurate to say that we are a secular government, governing a majority of Christians in this nation?
    It always amazes me that the Christian Dominionists, that claim that we’re a Christian Nation, whatever that means, are completely blind to the fact that the separation clause is there to protect against religions from persecuting each other.
    I guess no one reads their history anymore? Henry VIII, “Bloody” Mary, Elizabeth, no? Protestants and Catholics, Ireland?
    The Crusades?
    The history of tolerance, on the matter concerning “Christian Nations,” is very clear. They kill each other in the name of God. Why? Because monotheism, by definition, breeds intolerance. “The One True God” “The True Faith” “The Word” they are exclusive by their very nature.
    The Founding Fathers knew their history, and saw the disastrous outcomes of past “Christian Nations”
    Persecutions, killings of “Herretics” “Infidels” “Blasphemers” by Protestant, and Catholic alike.
    If you’re a Christian, or any other person of “Faith” pray that the separation clause remains intact, and strong. It was designed, primarily, to protect you.

  7. Loren Petrich says:

    I have to ask where the self-style “liberal” Xians go in debates like this. They whine that they are not fundies and that fundamentalism is not True Xianity, but they don’t speak out very loudly. They don’t innundate letters to the editor and blog comments with lengthy, angry denunciations of God-is-an-American theocracy and creationism and other Fundie beliefs.

  8. BillG says:

    The strength of this country comes not from religion, nor science, simply the Bill Of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. As long as we maintain these creeds Colson and co. can go create and digest as many fluff-n-nutters sandwiches as he pleases.

  9. Max says:

    Don’t forget the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams.

    Article 11.
    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

  10. feralboy12 says:

    Chuck Colson can babble about the Declaration of Independence all he wants, but the fact remains that when he was put into a position in which he was supposed to help defend the Constitution, the highest law in the land, he chose to violate it. So pardon me if I’m not interested when he expounds on the subject of law; he shot his credibility with me nearly 40 years ago. Finding Jeebus doesn’t change that.

  11. Max says:

    Chuck Colson argued, “It was Christianity, you see, that taught the West that all human beings are created in the image of God. Without that understanding, the very words of the Declaration of Independence, ‘that all Men are created equal, that they endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights,’ could never have been written.”

    He left out that “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”

    • SocraticGadfly says:

      Best, simplest reply I’ve seen. Otherwise, let’s just say that both Colson and Trismegistus are building straw men.

  12. Phea says:

    While not a Christian, (there are reasons why I can’t be, and others why I won’t be), I’ve always been amazed, (and amused), at how the basic teachings of Jesus have been twisted, warped and ignored so they can mesh with capitalism. We never have been, are not, and never will be a “Christian” nation. no matter what the statistics might claim. Colson should get another hobby.

  13. Insightful Ape says:

    That is so stupid. Christianity existed for 1800 years before the Declaration. Why didn’t anyone come up with those ideas earlier?
    The historical truth is a lot simpler. The Declaration was not borne out if Christianity, rather the Enlightenment.
    But maybe Colson’s own criminal past was.

  14. twh says:

    The authors of the Constitution held a variety of personal beliefs, but they were well aware of the religious persecutions that had happened in other countries and times. To avoid that happening here, they prevented their new government from imposing a religion on the people. I don’t see why this is so difficult for some believers to understand, or why they would find that offensive.

    • Phea says:

      The short answer is there are those who believe Gods law trump any pathetic laws and rules that we might come up with. There are some who believe the very concepts of freedom of religion and the separation of church and state are a contradiction to God’s will and the laws He gave us to live by. Some folks are a bit more active in expressing this radical point of view than others. For example,some simply want the Ten Commandments posted in every classroom,and creationism taught along side evolution. Others are willing to blow themselves up. What they have in common, is yes, they do find those who do not share their particular set beliefs, very offensive.

  15. TSkeptic says:

    A check of the bible shows us that democracy is not found in the bible–it isn’t a Christian principle. And, it seems, the US is actually founded in clear rejection of Christian principles.

    Romans 13, KJV

    [quote]“13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. **For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.**
    13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
    13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:”[/quote]

    That is essentially the justification of the divine right of kings, and of state sponsored churches like the Church of England–both of which were deliberately rejected in the founding of the US, a country to be ruled by men and rule of law, not by divine right.

    The Declaration of Independence:

    [quote]“to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers **from the consent of the governed,**”[/quote]

    That is a rejection of Romans 13:1. The Declaration says that power in government comes not from god as Romans 13:1 claims but from the consent of the governed.

    The US is not only not founded on Christian principles, it is founded in clear rejection of Christian principles. Chuck Colson is full of crap.

  16. Mario says:

    I was waiting for that book from a long time and suddenly yet I failed to notice when it went out, thanks for remember me to buy it.

    Regarding religion and a Country I firmly believe that it is like putting a cage maybe a golden and quite big one nevertheless a cage.

  17. Joe Seither says:

    Let’s remember that the Declaration of Independence is not a ‘founding’ document on par with the Constitution. The purpose of the DOI was to claim autonomy from the British crown and enumerate a long list of reasons for doing so. It said nothing about how the newly independent colonies would organize or formulate a new legal/political/governmental structure. Defining the legal framework for a new nation is precisely the job of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. And how many times does the word ‘god’ appear in the Constitution and Bill of Rights? Exactly zero. If the founders had intended to form a new nation “under god,” as Colson believes, you’d expect they would’ve mention god at least once. (Yes, they did claim natural rights, bestowed by “Nature’s God” in the Declaration of Independence, but this is Enlightenment language consistent with then-popular deism.) During the 10+ years between the drafting of the Declaration and the Constitution, the founders must have decided there was no place in the founding documents for even a single mention of god. And we know this was not an oversight because there is ample record of enthusiastic support for god to have a central role in the new government from founders like the strident, evangelical Patrick Henry. In the end, the language that defines our nation, the very words the founders agreed on and signed their names to, is absent god and expressly separates government from religion. To argue otherwise is willful ignorance, to act otherwise is to flout the law of the land. The only reason “under God” and “In God we Trust” survive as cultural traditions is because the very word “god” is sufficiently ambiguous as to avoid violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Even in a nation of mostly Christian religious denominations, the word “god” can mean anything to anyone, which of course means that it has linguistically inert.

    • Beelzebud says:

      “under God” and “In God we Trust” weren’t officially adopted until the 1950’s during the cold war hysteria.

      Before the 50’s our pledge didn’t include “under God”, and E Pluribus Unum was the national motto. Given those facts, it’s hard to even refer to them as “cultural traditions” that have “survived”.

  18. Joe Seither says:

    …is linguistically inert

  19. DeLong says:

    On Tuesday, November 22, my family spent the day at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Everyone should try to visit this museum at least once, if not more often. Christians are no more tolerant of others than anyone else. In fact, there have been significant times in the history of Christianity during which these people were the least tolerant people on the planet.

    • DarcBird says:

      I believe that the whole reason for the rise of the Muslim faith is in response to the early Christians… basically, they put whole villages to death because they were “infidels”/”Pagans” or whatever and did not believe in Jesus as their one and only savior.

  20. jeffb says:

    No god has ever articulated, or defended, a single right of man. It is true that many folks have referred to a belief in god when formulating their views on the origins of rights, but many others have not. Just because someone says that god grants this or that right, does not mean that god in fact does.

    People claim their own rights for a variety of reasons, and people must ultimately defend them. In all this god is nowhere to be found, except in the imagination.

  21. xxicenturyboy says:

    When the Brownist Seperatists first landed on North America and started killing off the natives with disease and later imprisoning them into concentration camps, they had their god on their side. They killed witches invoking their own religion. Slavery was argued for using the Bible in the USA up to and after the Civil War. Native children were killed while being baptized so the little savages souls would be saved. People asked themselves what would Jesus do and they did it, until someone finally said, what would a sane person do? The only reason we have fair laws and justice is because someone went against that crazy Iron Age philosophy and used Common Sense, credit Thomas Payne. I have often heard people ask what would the world be like if it were just made up of a philosophy of Man and not “God” (usually missing the point that even if they could agree on which god, then which religion?), and I say, I don’t have to imagine, because that is the world I live in today. People wrote all those crazy stories about Jehova, Jesus, Allah, Zeus, Gandalf, Beezelbub, Talking Snakes, Zombies, Magic Fruit, Flying Horses, etc etc etc not some deity or under the control of a deity. But because people believe that crap, they won’t let themselves do the rational thing. Lets accept that we all live under philosophies created by regular people, and learn to work together and get along. WWASPD? what would a sane person do?

  22. Markx says:

    Bob Dylan sums it up:

    With God On Our Side … final verse

    So now as I’m leavin’
    I’m weary as Hell
    The confusion I’m feelin’
    Ain’t no tongue can tell
    The words fill my head
    And fall to the floor
    If God’s on our side
    He’ll stop the next war

    • Beth Birnbaum says:

      As the headlines fill with stories of people rioting for $2.00 waffle irons, pepper spraying each other for such Christian objects as X Boxes, which were a particular favorite of Jesus Christ, I’m sure the realistic war games were a particular favorite of His, and countless stores, both real and online, begging consumers to buy, it may be that a particular form of consumerist, capitalist, Christianity is indeed the religion of our nation. It is the values of the government that begged us to act normal, defining normal as “going shopping” after 9/11. It is the orgy of Christmas, where lights and shiny decorations represent a form of worship. It is the Christmas special, pick a program, where the vilest character suddenly, for one magic day, transformed by the spirt of the season, doesn’t act like a complete amoral ass. It takes over the airwaves in every store with songs of Christmas present and past, until you’re ready to scream.
      And then, in the debauchery of New Years Eve, we return to our usual rampant consumerism, picking up the gleanings of Christmas past, hoping to take advantage of stores, not caring if it puts them out of business. “Black Friday,” the day retailers finally turn a profit, becomes far more important every year, as a nation watches the totals, glad to be able to participate in the justification of their beliefs.

  23. GDC says:

    Nothing that anyone can write or say makes any difference. The religious person IS mentally sick, delusional, psychotic and deep in a psychotic denial of reality.

    What needs to be done is that the mental health professionals, that are not to mentally sick themselves, should recognize that religion IS a psychosis.

    • Craig S says:

      I hate to say it but there are many people who function better by having these delusions (a belief in a diety). It simplifies their world. It gives them structure. It doesn’t require them to strain their intellect. As such, they have no motivation to seek the truth (science) about the world around them or listen to information contrary to their narrow religion. Ignorance is often bliss–and mentally lazy.

  24. Larry Silverstein says:

    CHILD BRIDES 3 YEARS OLD
    Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah
    Niddah 44b
    in the grave1 to transmit the inheritance to his paternal brothers. But, surely, this2 is not? so, for was there not a case where an embryo made three convulsive movements?3 — Mar son of R. Ashi replied: [Those were only reflexive movements] like those of the tail of the lizard which moves convulsively [even after it has been cut off].4
    Mar son of R. Joseph citing Raba explained: This5 means to say that he causes a diminution in the portion of the birthright.6
    Mar son of R. Joseph citing Raba further ruled: A son born after the death of his father causes no diminution in the portion of the birthright.7 What is the reason?8 It is required that They shall have born to him.9 Thus10 it was taught at Sura; but at Pumbeditha it was taught as follows: Mar son of R. Joseph citing Raba ruled, A firstborn son that was born after the death of his father11 does not receive a double portion. What is the reason? It is necessary that He shall acknowledge,12 and ['he',] surely, is not [there to acknowledge]. And the law is in agreement with all those versions which Mar son of R. Joseph cited in the name of Raba.
    HE WHO KILLS HIM IS GUILTY OF MURDER, since it is written, And he that smiteth any man mortally,13 implying, whatever the age.14
    AND HE COUNTS TO HIS FATHER, TO HIS MOTHER AND TO ALL HIS RELATIVES AS A FULLY GROWN MAN, In respect of what law? — R. Papa replied: In respect of that of mourning.
    In agreement with whose view [is our Mishnah]?15 It cannot be, can it, in agreement with16 R. Simeon b. Gamaliel who ruled: Any human17 child18 that survived for thirty days cannot be, regarded as a miscarriage,19 from which it follows that if he had not lived so long he would have been a doubtful case?20 — Here21 we are dealing with the case of a child concerning whom it is established that the months of his pregnancy were duly fulfilled.22
    MISHNAH. A GIRL OF THE AGE OF THREE YEARS AND ONE DAY MAY BE BETROTHED23 BY INTERCOURSE; IF THE YABAM24 HAD INTERCOURSE WITH HER, HE ACQUIRES HER THEREBY;25 THE GUILT26 OF ADULTERY27 MAY BE INCURRED THROUGH HER,28 AND SHE29 CAUSES UNCLEANNESS TO THE MAN WHO HAD INTERCOURSE WITH HER SO THAT HE IN TURN CONVEYS UNCLEANNESS TO THAT UPON WHICH HE LIES,30 AS TO A GARMENT WHICH HAS LAIN UPON [A ZAB].31 IF SHE WAS MARRIED TO A PRIEST, SHE MAY EAT TERUMAH. IF ANY OF THE INELIGIBLE PERSONS32 COHABITED WITH HER HE DISQUALIFIES HER FROM THE PRIESTHOOD.33 IF ANY OF THE FORBIDDEN DEGREES ENUMERATED IN THE TORAH COHABITED WITH HER HE IS TO BE EXECUTED ON HER ACCOUNT, BUT SHE34 IS EXEMPT [FROM THE PENALTY]. IF ONE WAS YOUNGER THAN THIS AGE INTERCOURSE WITH HER IS LIKE PUTTING A FINGER IN THE EYE.
    GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: A girl of the age of three years may be betrothed by intercourse; so R. Meir. But the Sages say: Only one who is three years and one day old. What is the practical difference between them? — The school of R Jannai replied: The practical difference between them is the day preceding the first day of the fourth year.35 R. Johanan, however, replied: The practical difference between them is the rule that thirty days of a year are counted as the full year.36
    An objection was raised: A girl of the age of three years and even one of the age of two years and one day may be betrothed by intercourse; so R. Meir. But the Sages say: Only one who is three years and one day old.

  25. mary kelley says:

    Those who mention the Wall of Separation between Church and State may be surprised to know that the Wall was meant to keep out an Established Church, not to stop governmental support for religion. Jefferson and Madison (and indeed later Presidents) regularly attended Christian religious services on government property- in the House of Representative, the old Supreme Court, and the Treasury Department. These were held at least until the Civil War.
    The Library of Congress had an exhibit on this subject back in the 1990’s I believe , and it is available on their website.

  26. Bitsy Freeman says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_burned_as_heretics

    I invite you to peruse this list, a partial list of the tens of thousands of people burned or otherwise martyred because of a difference of opinions in the p’s and q’s of religious tittles and jots. Some estimates are hundreds of thousands of women were enthusiastically burned as witches by their fellow christians. The list of the burned stands in mute testimony of the rage that burns within christianity’s false demeanor of gentleness and acceptance. Given the freedom to force others to their beliefs and the ability to cast aside the restraints of civil law, I contend that all religions would within a few generations revert to burning or stoning those that they disagreee with. That is why we need the rule of law. We are protected not by religion, but by law, as Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers of our Nation well knew. If religion could and would protect it’s helpless and it’s powerless, we would only need the bible and could dispense with our constitution forthwith.

    It is a proven fact that christianity does not protect, instead it oppresses, when given the power to do so. The well-documented history of the christian religion shows clearly that it’s doctrines, when it’s practitioners have the power to create their own laws, will be used to bully, oppress, impoverish, and murder by methods as horrifying as burning at the stake.

    And if you think that protestantism is any cleaner and purer, I point out that the Salem witch trials were a protestant event, and would draw your attention to an entry on that Wikipedia list of martyrs against religious power, of Michael Servetus. He was burned at the express wish of none other than the great John Calvin because of their disagreement over the doctrine of the trinity. Servetus was villanized because he (although a staunch christian) did not acknowledge the validity of trinity. Calvin was a great hero of protestantism and as big a hypocrite and murderer in the name of his fanatical doctrine as ever walked this earth. Click that link and read about Servetus, a good man and a brilliant thinker and early scientist, if you think protestant hands are clean and that you are really safe in disagreeing against any religious foolishness, no matter how petty and small.

    • David Wolfe says:

      Bitsy, thanks for your post. As a Christian I would like to respond to your post in a few ways. First as a follower of Christ I am curious to know what evidence you have that Christianity is oppressive and bullying? Who would be your examples? I agree that some who claim to be “Christian” do live out a false “Gospel”, but I would also contend that those who do believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord do live out that relationship and fight for justice for the poor, marginalized, and hurting.

      I just recently attended a Passion Conference in Atlanta in which 45,000 college students attended to worship and celebrate a gracious and loving God. The theme of the conference was “Freedom” in an effort to fight against slavery around the world in an effort free slaves, provide hope and counsel through Jesus to those who have been slaves, etc. The goal was to raise 1 million dollars to help fight slave trade around the world. In 4 days we raised 3 million dollars. I do not find that oppressive but rather a group of Christians wanting to live out their faith in a very tangible way.

      All of the most oppressive regimes in the history of mankind have nothing to do with Christianity. Look at the former regime in Iraq, the current regime in Iran, North Korea, Charles Taylor in Liberia, and many others. None of these are founded our claim to be Christian. The oppression comes because the sinful human heart wants to reign and rule over another. When worship of me becomes the goal then I will step over others in order to get that. As a believer in Jesus, my desire is to serve and love others just as Christ has loved me (albeit I still sin and sometimes still seek to serve myself). It is a constant battle everyday to live for others than myself but I can live to serve and love others because my heart has been changed by the love that God has for me in giving His Son Jesus to die and rise again to set me free from myself.

      As far as your example in Calvin, he was a sinner too just like me. History shows that this instance was indeed a deep regret that Calvin had in his life. All great heroes of the faith have sinned in different ways and are just as much in need of God’s grace. There is only one perfect person and that was Jesus. The true test of character is their admission of sin and seeking to make it right. Clarification is needed in your example. It was the Catholics that were initially going to execute Servetus because of the charge of heresy. Servetus escaped to Geneva where he was caught and tried for heresy. Calvin was brought in to mediate the theological side of the trial. Calvin according to history showed pity to Servetus and tried to get the charge lessened, but Calvin admitted he did not do enough. Again this shows that this life is messy and that we need a Savior to forgive us and change us so that we can make a difference in this world for the better.

      Again I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability and look forward to hearing back from you.

      Dave

  27. Steve Engard says:

    Mr. Colson has an interesting rationalization regarding the Declaration of Independence, especially since Evan T. Pritchard, a Professor of Native American History at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., found that Thomas Jefferson based his writing of the declaration on the philosophy of individual rights from the Algonquin Confederation. Prof. Pritchard explains his findings in his book, “No Word For Time: The Way of the Algonquin People”.

  28. Craig S says:

    It is clear that nowhere in the Bible is it written that a nation is supposed to be theocratic (“under god”). And if one follows the alleged teachings of Christ as written in the Bible, e.g., giving away one’s possessions to the poor, feeding the hungry, treating thy brother as thyself, overturning the money changers, etc., it suggests he endorses what we now call a socialist nation. How Christians have been able to link Christianity with capitalism all these years is a mystery to me.

    • plivin says:

      Mystery solved. Let me begin with this re-look at your supposition that the biblical directive of caring for one another by giving away one’s possessions is not socialism at all but actually the height of capitalism. If I give away what I own to someone I choose to give it to at a time and place that I think is right then I have exercised my prerogative under capitalism to own and dispose of what I own. Socialism takes all those “I’s” out and makes them the ruling authority. The Bible directs that we should care for one another’s burdens. If I have no right to ownership and the prerogatives thereof, then this directive would be impossible to fulfill.

  29. Dr. Strangelove says:

    Colson is ignorant of the bible and the history of Christianity. The Old Testament condones genocide, slavery, arson, rape and plunder of the pagans. The Crusaders was organized by the Pope and the Christian kings to slaughter the Muslims and retake the Holy Land. Since the 4th century, Christians had been killing the pagans in the name of God and their kings. The killings stopped (or decreased) starting in the 18th century when the Age of Enlightenment challenged the authority of the Church.

    The founding fathers of America were influenced by the same Enlightenment philosophers in drafting the Declaration of Independence.

  30. djk says:

    Herbert Butterfield was a widely-respected British historian and himself a sincere Christian. Here is an extract from ch. 7 of his classic “Christianity and History” (1949): “Indeed to me one of the terrible things in history-an issue which I cannot be satisfied to evade-is the fact that the Christian Church began a cruel policy of persecution from the earliest moment when it was in a position (and had the power) to do so; while at the other end of the story both Catholic and Protestant churches fought to the last point of cruelty…to maintain their persecuting power. Sometimes, indeed, as in the case of freedom of conscience, the Church has bitterly fought the world, and I am confronted by the anomaly that it was the world which stood for the cause now regarded as the right one even by the clergy themselves.” Before venturing out again, Colson would do well to review at least that one chapter.

  31. ArtJunky says:

    How embarrassed are the multitudes of Christians who can’t even define what Christianity actually is?

  32. Kyrstyn says:

    Although I disagree with the premise of Chuck Olson’s op-ed, I’m bothered that Michael threw in the red herring that he did in the second paragraph of his post above. Olson’s arguments fail on their own lack of merit, this bit about Nixon and prison, etc. was unnecessary and pointless.

    • drumbold says:

      I tend to agree with you on this one. I know its an op-ed piece but the handy little dig on character by citing his past does precious little to help Shermer air-tight case going foreward.

      Additionally, if he presupposes certain things that science and reason afford regarding the beginning of our nation but will not enter into the positive elements of a Christian apologetic concerning the same (only critiquing Colson) then I fail to see a huge amount of objectivity there.

  33. Kenneth Polit says:

    I’m not surprised that Mr. Colson “found” Jesus in prison. I was a “guest” of the state some time back for some civil disobedience. The only thing available to read there were bibles and, oddly, a dog-eared copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Guess what I read. As far as America being a “Christian” nation, all I can say is this; it is full of hypocrites, charlatans, opportunists, and the willfully ignorant, just like Christianity.

    • Douglas Culver says:

      March 1, 2012

      Separation of church and state is a concept that is very misunderstood. Separation of church and state says that the state shall not dictate to the church and that the church shall not dictate to the government. This concept doesn’t mean that they should be entities that are completely isolated from each other. They are to exist together in aid to one another but neither is to control or dictate what the other is to do.

  34. Tommy Hopson says:

    Unfortunately, time and misconstrued information has circulated for several years about our founding fathers. It is a fact that the first colonies established here on this land was established by people who believed the Bible is God’s word and they also believed in Jesus Christ. With that said let me make a few points about the definition of a Christian nation. First, saying this is a Christian nation is not saying other people who believe differently are not welcome to live here. By no means should this ever be! Christians are called to love all just as Jesus did, even when He was being crucified without cause. Secondly, saying we are a Christian nation is not saying all people are required to be Christians. My heart and desire is to see all people come to know the truth that Jesus Christ provides, however, Scripture makes it clear that this is a free choice of every person. Thirdly, saying we are a Christian nation does not change anyone’s earthly status. Every person should be treated equally by court of law or by public opinion no matter his or her beliefs. These things are not what being a Christian nation means. Being a Christian nation merely points out that in the very beginning of our nation’s history men who believed in Jesus Christ drafted the Declaration of Independence and their beliefs influenced how this document, as well as, the Constitution were formed. Yes, Christian principles are in these documents and much prayer preceded the formation of both of them.

    • tmac57 says:

      Being a Christian nation merely points out that in the very beginning of our nation’s history men who believed in Jesus Christ drafted the Declaration of Independence and their beliefs influenced how this document, as well as, the Constitution were formed.

      Well,then I guess that by that standard,then we can also be called a slavery nation.
      Times change.People learn new things.New facts are established.Values change.Superstitions are exposed as such.Cling all you want to your deity or deities (as you wish),just don’t insist that we honor,respect,or by law, have to go along with your dogma.

      • Tommy Hopson says:

        I thoroughly agree with you that times change and people learn new things, however, I respectfully disagree with the premise that all change is good. For instance, none of us would agree that the erection of the Berlin Wall in the 1960’s was a good change for Germany or for that matter the world. Separation and seclusion is always dangerous. We see that today pertaining to the country, North Korea.
        Of course, slavery was a dark error in our country’s history. Relating to this, I value President Lincoln as the best President we have had to date. His Christian values led him to make the right choice concerning abolishing slavery. Also and as you know, not all people who lived in the colonies were Christians. Many influences from many different world views existed then as it does today. As in every era not all Christians made the right choices all the time. Many Christians owned slaves and although they may have been treated better in some cases it was still wrong. That is the greatness of having a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is forgiving and never turns His back on anyone no matter how far they have gone or what they have done.
        Pertaining to the insistence that everyone honors or respects Christ; I do not insist that you or anyone else honors and respects Christ. That is an issue between you and Him. It is not my place to demand anything except for my right to honor the one and only true God. Although I don’t demand or insist that everyone honors God, It is my desire that this would occur. There is one true standard and that standard comes from God.
        Yes, realizing the fact that our founders were Christians we can be called a Christian nation that was founded on Christian principles. Our nation is not perfect nor a theocracy. However, our nation has principles embedded within the Constitution that are Christian based.

      • tmac57 says:

        I will just reply by restating my last sentence:
        “Cling all you want to your deity or deities (as you wish),just don’t insist that we honor,respect,or by law, have to go along with your dogma.”

      • David Wolfe says:

        Tmac57, Would you cry foul if a Christian would not honor or respect your opinion? In your reply you say don’t “insist that we honor, respect or by law have to go along with your dogma.” It appears that you won’t honor or respect the opinion of a Christian. No one is insisting you believe in our dogma. Tommy states that. We are just stating what Christ has done in our lives and want to share that. I find it interesting that under the banner of tolerance the most intolerance is shown toward the Christian. Shouldn’t the tolerant be respectful and honoring to even those they don’t agree with?

      • tmac57 says:

        David,the operable word is “insist”.I am by nature a very tolerant person,sometimes more than is warranted.However,I have a problem with religious minded people who think that people who do not agree with their beliefs and dogma MUST respect those beliefs.In other words,I would not go out of my way to step on someones toes,so to speak,until they begin to intrude on my rights not to believe,like having to bow my head when they are praying (which I have done,but always with a sense that I was being coerced/manipulated).That kind of social pressure to go along with rituals that are meaningless to me is really an affront to my personal freedom.
        Regarding respecting my opinion,I would only ask to have my RIGHT to my opinion respected,not the opinion itself,just as I respect a religious persons right to their beliefs,but not the beliefs themselves.That is what tolerance is about,not kowtowing.And my personal experience,is that the very religious are some of the most intolerant and close minded people that I have ever encountered,but I am not surprised that you see it just the other way round.

  35. Scott Yaikow says:

    I am a Christian. I try to follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this, I am not perfect. I fail every day. I try to do the best that I can. While there have been instances and people that have been mentioned that are not flattering to the Christian faith, which does not mean that we need to throw the baby out with the bath water. This country was founded by people who were Christian. There is no denying this. I am not speaking of the Native Americans here; I am speaking of the Europeans that came over here for religious freedom. While there are examples of people that have done wrong, we sometimes forget to mention the good things that are done in the name of Jesus Christ. What about the charity and love that is shown in the name of the God?

  36. Eric Ridley says:

    Wow! The separation of church and state as one reply has already stated was put into to place to prevent the United States from adopting a national religion or church. It was not put into to place to stop the two from having civil interaction. The founding Fathers were worried that the fledgling country would adopt a national religion, like the British with the Church of England. This was done in order to protect religious freedoms and not to destroy them. We must remember that this country was founded by those fleeing countries where the religious practices were under attack. And what are we doing today? People are trying to use something that was supposed to be protection to once again attack those who practice religion, not just Christianity but all religion. Christianity gets hit first because it is the largest, but if it falls so too will the other smaller religions practiced in this country. The best thing the Christian church can do for this country is pray. Pray that our leaders will see the error of their ways and turn back to the religion that helped to build this country and make us strong country that the world used to look up to.

  37. Jeremy says:

    I am rather bewildered as to why many professing Christians find some value in wrangling with the world over political matters and social agendas. What eternal value at all is there in any of these matters? What improvement in ones spiritual walk do such wranglings make? As I see it, politics and arguing with the world provide one thing alone for the professing Christian, a distraction from pursuing holiness in one’s own life. This naturally is why many prefer to hear pulpits rant about social sins, rather than searching the scriptures to see how they must change for the sake of pleasing God.

    No, America is not a Christian nation. Why would a Christian want to align God’s name with this nation? A nation that delights in what the Bible declares to be wicked: lusts, adultery, evil thoughts, malice, greed, envy, etc. Would you have God’s name blasphemed among the world by this country that grossly misrepresents him? Instead, the Christian should be proclaiming, “this is not a ‘Christian nation’ because the nation is a poor reflection of Biblical Christianity”.

    • Jose Andres Jordan says:

      In a sense I would agree with you that America is not a Christian nation. Yes, as a few bloggers commented, it was founded as a Christian nation and of all the men who signed the declaration of independence, only two were non-protestant in their religious beliefs. Additionally it would be foolish to lay upon the shoulders of this great nation the guilty verdict for many evil-doers who call themselves “Christian”. The fact is… American people have not fallen due only to lusts, adultery, evil thoughts, malice, greed and envy… but also to those sin’s we consider respectable as to that is how I was made, or that is the way that I am therefore I can grant myself those ideals… sins such as ungodliness, because our moral self-righteousness does not allow us to think of ourselves as ungodly, nor may I say, ungratefulness… so many American Christians have so much stuff, yet we tend to be so ungrateful that we don’t have the best of this or the best of that, or the latest gadget, or worse, the best wife/husband, best church… ungratefulness… additionally we can see sins such as anxiety, frustration, discontentment, pride of moral self-righteousness, the pride of correct doctrine and we argue all day about so many things and divide the family of God, divide the young believers… selfishness, lack of self-control (a little example as seen in the obesity percentages in our youth, or adults) impatience, irritability, anger, judgmental, envy, jealousy, or worse, the sins of the tongue… dare I say that most God-fearing Americans would not think of these sins as the downfall of our nation… I’d beckon for this question to be answered… America where is our zeal for godliness?

    • woodji517 says:

      I totally agree. I hate when people say this is a Christian nation because with the standards that Christ gives us in his word, this is by no means a Christian nation, it never was. That term is used to reference it being founded on Christian principles and even now those principles are slowly being thrown out the window. This nation is no longer Christian related, the only thing left is the motto on our currency that has an inkling to do with God. The fact is that every day people completely butcher God’s word and make it out to mean something it clearly doesn’t. We see this with the Crusaders who thought it was God’s plan for them to kill anyone that didn’t believe the same as them. Verses taken out of context can completely distort everything God is trying to say and turn it into things like the Crusaders did.

  38. plivin says:

    Interesting how threatened some folks are to think that the founding fathers (or some of them at least) could have either believed in God or the life and work of Jesus Christ. What is the big deal to them? I am perfectly content and would even defend their right to disbelieve in the God of Christianity. However, I would want them to first know what they reject. I would want them to know verifiably that they are rejecting at the very least the most likely cause of all causes. I would want them to know that the God we Christians talk of is available to them but not required of them. I would want them to make their decision to reject based upon evidence and not on emotion. If they choose to reject, then please don’t belittle those who choose to accept especially when that acceptance is based upon evidence that suggests acceptance is the most likely case the reasoning person can find.

    • plivin says:

      Commenting on my own comment.

      I did not mean the last sentence of my post to be harsh. I truly would defend anyone’s right to believe as they wish. After saying “don’t belittle” I did just that. I apologize to all for the tenor of my words. I do challenge those who reject God and Christ to come to that by the facts and the probability of the truth. We all must base our lives on some standard even if that standard is one we develop as we go. When the math is done on probability vs any other worldview, the likelihood is that Christianity makes the most probable case for reality.

      • tmac57 says:

        When the math is done on probability vs any other worldview, the likelihood is that Christianity makes the most probable case for reality.

        You believe that you have found the correct answer,but you have failed to show your work.

  39. Brian Sheldon says:

    I find it fascinating how many people dismiss the intent of our forefathers, based upon their socio-religious worldview. Pointing out that Jefferson was less than a model christian is a foolish notion. Everyone of us could be accused of hypocrisy with enough digging. Never the less, these men had the foresight to recognize that Christian principles would be a key factor to our newly formed nation’s success. Yet, even in the complete absence of faith, I think that we forget, that God has used very wicked men to accomplish great things, for the cause of a just and Holy God, events that brought great blessings upon men of faith. Just as a side note, to those who claim that America has robbed these moral values from other historical relevant cultures, and not the Bible, I have only one question; where did they get it from?

  40. Seth says:

    Allow me, if you will, to clear up some bewilderment. Many people believe that Christianity does not belong being involved in politics. However, this is contradictory to Scripture seeing since God instituted government on earth; with Himself being the “King of kings.” As a Christian, the Bible defines my worldview as well as my entire life, this does not mean that I’m perfect. Therefore, a Christian should never separate his political views from his relationship with the King of the universe. It is the responsibility of a Christian to protect and practice his beliefs.

    I’m sure we all appreciate the fact that to some extent we have the ability to help shape a nation. What a privilege.

  41. JRWebb says:

    The separation of church and state in our constitution does not forbid the government from endorsing a religious belief. The separation clause is there to keep the government from controlling the churches, not in agreeing with them. Even if the government endorses a religion, it cannot force its citizens to believe in or to worship in a certain manner the religion it endorses. This is the true meaning of separation of church and state. America is a nation founded on Christian principles, which is a fact that cannot be denied. The beauty of America is that while it was founded on Christian principles, you are not forced to believe in God, personally I feel it is your mistake not to believe, but it is your right. Instead of criticizing our Christian heritage, be thankful for the liberties that it has brought to all of us. If you are interested in learning more about the constitution and religion, I recommend you read “Original Intent” by David Barton.

    • Jeremy says:

      Whether the nation has a Christian heritage or not I do not know. Perhaps in name, but I think there were many who likely were deists, or referred to Christian language out of expediency and convenience. In this regards it is no different now when you hear politicians treat the name of God as a common thing at the end of some speech.

      The danger of befriending religion/faith (Christianity even) to government is that you open the format up for government sanctioned and sponsored movements. I am not a sensationalist which delights in end time scenarios, however in my mind it is not a stretch to say that if you tie government sympathy to a particular religious movement you present an opportunity for control and persecution when those ideas become redefined later.

      • Wayne Hammel says:

        There is no doubt that some of the founders were Deists. On the other side, there is no doubt that some were, indeed, Christian. Whether we were a Christian nation at our founding is not completely clear to me. But it is equally clear that the founders were not neutral on the subject of religion.

  42. drumbold says:

    It amazes me as I read through the Shermer post so much is predicated on assumption. Really, each comment he shows in response to his article (or Colson’s article) are based of presuppositions of some form or another. I think the establishment of truth or absolutes has to be in some order. For Colson argues from the presupposition of truth while the next post simply affirms that the way Christians have operated in the past is to snuff individuality, homosexual marriage and animal rights (among other things).
    A purely objective thinker has to ask the question of both parties: how did Colson arrive at the presupposition that Christianity is the BEST way? AND How did (take your pick on whoever left a post) come to believe that homosexual marriage (for example) or individuality (another example) were good? This opens Pandora’s box regarding a myriad of issues. Most notably, morals don’t arrive in a person simply because of a social construct, familial upbringing, or otherwise – general morality has to be innate. This stems back to our first assumptions.
    I assume the Bible to be true therefore I argue as such. I have NEVER – nor would I EVER defend the Declaration as a reliable, primarily Christian document. To defend the document and claim that our forefathers had some great insight to write it as a result of the Enlightenment is to make the REST of civilization of lesser value before the 1700s. So, the enlightenment rolls around and people, all of the sudden, because of science and reason, know that ‘all men are create equal?’ Flimsy.
    I will digress as I close with this: if the forefathers held “these truths to be self-evident…” what could they possibly have been referring to? Surely science did not produce the same gut-level conviction in ALL the signers of that Declaration.

  43. Seth says:

    That’s a great point. In England the head of state was trying to dictate how we are to worship and killing anyone who disagreed, as did the Pope (I do not credit that as the act of a Christian, but that of a wolf in sheep’s clothing). Yet Christianity teaches that we (Christians) are to be peaceable even with our enemies, as much as possible. This does not mean that Christians are suppose to be passive, it means that we should not be rude or hateful.

  44. plivin says:

    Commenting on my own comment.

    I did not mean the last sentence of my post to be harsh. I truly would defend anyone’s right to believe as they wish. After saying “don’t belittle” I did just that. The rhetoric of defending beliefs should not devolve into non-productive comments. I apologize to all for the tenor of my words. I do challenge those who reject God and Christ to come to that by the facts and the probability of the truth. We all must base our lives on some standard even if that standard is one we develop as we go. When the math is done on probability vs any other worldview, the likelihood is that Christianity makes the most probable case for reality.

  45. Wayne Hammel says:

    I didn’t read all the comments made about Colson’s post, but it appears that there is an almost willful refusal to come to terms with this separation of state and church doctrine. It has become a dogma of those seeking to make the country religion-free that this separation means the church must not have a voice in the public square. Christians are routinely ridiculed as right wing nut jobs, and worse.

    However, as most know who have taken the time to check, the phrase “wall of separation between church and state” doesn’t appear in The Constitution; it appears in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptists from Danbury, Connecticut. These Baptists were concerned that the new federal government would establish a state church along the lines of the European model. Jefferson reassured the Danbury Baptists that this would not be the case. The “wall” Jefferson wrote about was a wall between the state meddling in the church’s affairs, not the church influencing the state.

    The question of whether America is a Christian nation is not even a relevant question. We are so far removed from a Christian base now that it is somewhat silly to even talk about the dangers of religion, although you would never know it by the rhetoric. The fact is, the anti-religion crowd seems to have won the day. It seems to me that skeptics don’t just want religion that stays within the walls of its worship centers, but they want a religion-free world. You might need lots of gulags for that!

  46. Jody says:

    I would like to comment on Hans Van Ingelgom twitter because that is what I believe can be the problem when one labels America as a Christian nation. I think it is rather obvious that this county was based on many virtues and principle that are also found in Christianity as a whole. But if you say that this country was built on Christianity, it depends on which “Christianity” you speak of? Are we a Baptist country or a Catholic country? This is why I think it is best to say that this country “shares” a lot of principle with the basic and broad views of Christianity as a whole. As a Christian with mostly Baptist convictions, I have no problem with saying this. I don’t need America to be a Baptist Christian nation, as long as this nation continues to hold to the belief that everyone is entitled to their own personal beliefs.

  47. Henrietta Thomas says:

    Henrietta Thomas says:
    February 29, 2012 10:55P
    Yes there was a time that America was a Christian nation. This country was founded on Christian Principles and the vast majority of the Founders were Christians. Judeo-Christian principles guided their thoughts and planning, which lead to the Declaration and the Constitution. Whether one believes or not, it does not change the truth. The Bible says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” (Ps. 33:12) Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” (Pro. 14:34) And unless this nation turns back to what it once was and to what it once stood for, it will not continue to stand.

    • Oscar Williams says:

      “Blessed is the nation whos God is the Lord” sounds good if it was true, but God has never been the God of the United State alone. You have to remember that this nation was the “land of the free”. Freedom to worship what ever god you want. And they did. Some branches of Christianity tried to force their beliefs on people by conquest and the fear of being excommunicated, ostracised. Slaves and women had no voice in the government and community. If they read their Bibles they would have seen that Jesus elivated women and cherished them. He said no one should lord over the other but that we are all equal in the sight of God. Re think what it really mean to trully be a Christian nation. Our nation being founded on Christian principles only applied to those under the dome of the White House Church. It never spilled over into the community. So today we have prayer removed from schools,anything that has to do with Christianity in public is torn down or spoken out against by those who oppose Christianity. Our constitution says the state shall not impose any kind of state religion on its people but allow the freedom of religion, not freedom from religion as is going on in our cosiety today.

  48. ScottG says:

    What I see here are a lot of supposed facts mangled and passed on without doing any check of history. Our founding fathers were very smart men, no doubt about that. Look at the history of Europe and see just why they put the separation of church and state into our founding documents. The mingling of church and state caused a lot of trouble in Europe from 1054 until the 1800’s. They wanted this country to not have to go through that mess. They knew their history, had learned from it, and therefore did not want to repeat it. Is America a Christian nation? I believe it once once. Unfortunately, we, as a nation have been chipping away at that foundation for quite a while.

  49. EmilyB says:

    Anyone who has studied the history of this great nation should know that the founding fathers were very open and straight-forward about their Christianity. Many people of this newly founded nation had come from England where membership was required in the Church of England, a church established by the king as a mandated alternative to the Catholic Church. The founding fathers of the United States did not want the leaders of this new nation to ever have the chance to force the citizens to attend a specific type of church and worship in a specific way. There is not one single reference to the “Wall of Separation” in any historical government document. It comes from a speech given by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in 1802. In this speech, Jefferson states that the legislature should “make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and state.
    This was just one of many examples of the founding fathers demonstrating how important they thought it was for the citizens of this nation to be able to worship freely without the government telling them where, when, or how it should be done.

  50. zapparules says:

    Can anyone identify for me one ‘good’, positive human trait, characteristic or action that can NOT be done without god?
    Anything ‘good’ CAN BE DONE without god.
    Respect, compassion, LOVE – all such good qualities of humans can be achieved and performed WITHOUT god in the equation. (Inf act, I would argue, adding god to the equation very often ‘muddles’ the meaning and applicability of such positive values and actions.)

    Again… Name me one thing good that can’t be achieved without god.