Should America be a Christian nation?

Britain is officially a Christian nation. Because it is, America is not. That distinction was intentional because America's founders had chaffed under the abuses of a state faith. However, it is a serious mistake to believe America's founders were anti-Christian.

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But England isn’t America, observes Odone.

Only days earlier, two British women appealed to the European Court of Human Rights after British panels ruled they have no right to wear Christian crosses as jewelry. Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin both had sought help from the British government when their employers barred them from wearing crosses.

Nadia Eweida

Instead, the government ruled that they had no such right because displaying a cross is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, unlike a Muslim woman who is required to wear a veil or a Sikh man obligated to wear a turban and ceremonial dagger.

Ironically, Great Britain is officially a Christian nation. Because it is, America is not.

That distinction was intentional because America’s founders had chaffed under the abuses of a state religion. Queen Elizabeth II’s formal title is “Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.” The faith is the Church of England – of which she is the official head.

America’s founders repudiated such a state faith, writes Michael I. Meyerson, author of the just released Endowed By Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America from Yale University Press. “The framers believed that the American government should neither fund religion nor acknowledge religion in a way that favors any particular creed or denomination.”

However, it is a serious mistake to believe America’s founders were anti-Christian. Indeed, all 13 of the original colonies had deep Christian roots, according to the research website ProCon.org.

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Virginia had as its official religion the Church of England as did

Maryland and both Carolinas.

Church attendance in Virginia was required by a gubernatorial decree in 1617: “Every Person should go to church, Sundays and Holidays, or lye Neck and Heels that Night, and be a Slave to the Colony the following Week; for the second Offence, he should be a Slave for a Month; and for the third, a Year and a Day.”

Michael I. Meyerson

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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