America was built on a belief in God, and there’s just no way to deny that fact

I would like to make an appeal to the disciples of the Church of Atheism, the Secular Sacramentalists, the Progressive Proselytes:

Please, let’s just be honest with one another.

My guidance counselor always told me that conflict resolution must begin with honesty.

So can we finally take these words to heart, for God’s sa– well, for our sake, anyway?

Today, President Obama attended the National Prayer Breakfast. He got up and spoke piously of his faith in Jesus Christ. He even made some remarks about how “killing the innocent” is the “ultimate betrayal of God’s Will.” A curious statement, considering the person saying it. I guess he was being sarcastic.

In any case, there he was. The President of the United States, like most every other president for the last five decades, publicly promoting religion.

And once again, the conversation turns back to the “Separation of Church and State,” and the ridiculous myth of the First Amendment’s “freedom from religion” guarantee. I don’t mind having this debate. But I wish, friends, that we could have it honestly.

Here is how the honest argument would go:

You: I would like to fundamentally change the United States of America — all of its customs, its traditions, its laws, and the philosophy that serves as the foundation for its mission of freedom and liberty — transforming it into a nation of secularism and agnosticism, BECAUSE…

Me: Horrible idea. Here’s why…

And we could proceed to go back and forth, yell and scream, before eventually, possibly, maybe, hopefully, theoretically, reaching SOME sort of consensus or understanding of SOME kind about SOMETHING. Then we’d shake hands, and go get Italian ice together. It would be fun.

But, unfortunately, our arguments tend to be less fruitful than this, and they never end with us exchanging warm smiles and eating delicious treats. We rarely reach an understanding at all, and it’s hard to find anything constructive about the whole exercise.

Why is that?

Because the argument isn’t honest. The argument isn’t honest because it usually goes something like this:

You: I insist that the United States of America was founded as a bastion of secularism, and it was never intended that God or religion be recognized in any official capacity at all, for any reason, and that the First Amendment guarantees me the right to be insulated from any mention of the Divine in the public square.

Me: Here’s a thousand reason why you’re wrong about that…

You: Religion causes war! Catholic priests are pedophiles! Leviticus says funny things! Imaginary Sky Wizard! Crusades! The Pope wears a funny hat!

I wish I was being hyperbolic here.

See, I don’t mind arguing against your Atheistic Ideal.

You think the country would be better served if God and religion were contained solely in our churches and our homes? Fine. I don’t agree, but that’s a fine point of view. It’s a point of view we could discuss.

But, instead, you try to claim that your ideal is actually how our country was always supposed to look. Defying all proof to the contrary, you say that this is what our Founders were trying to establish. You claim that the First Amendment fundamentally protects us from being exposed to religion, and that it forbids any “official” mention or recognition of God. You say that the First Amendment, from the  start, was meant to ban things like manger scenes outside of town halls and Ten Commandment posters in public school hallways.

These claims are erroneous.

Indeed, they are lies — and you know it.

The country was founded on a belief in a creator God and has OFFICIALLY endorsed the concept from the very beginning. That is the reality. It is not really up for debate. You may wish to turn America into something else, but do not pretend that you are turning it into what it was always designed to be. Have the courage of your convictions. Make your case for an Atheist America, but do not stand there and tell me that America has always been atheist.

The evidence against you is staggering:

-Five mentions of God in The Declaration of Independence.

-In God we trust — the motto found in the National Anthem and on coins dating as far back as 1860.

-The Continental Congress issuing the first national proclamation of thanksgiving to God.

-The Continental Congress calling for national repentance of sins.

-Church services being held inside the Capitol Building during the time of the Founders.

-The President swearing in on a Bible. (This is not required, but it’s a custom many have followed. George Washington kissed a Bible after swearing his oath.)

-Swearing on a Bible in court, “so help you God.”

-Federal Oaths that require federal officials to say “so help me God.”

-The Chaplain of the United States Senate.

-Every Senate session beginning with a prayer.

-“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” – George Washington.

-“You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do every thing they can to assist you in this wise intention…” – George Washington’s speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs.

-“The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.” – John Adams

The list goes on and on.

Two can play at the “Founding Fathers religion quotes” game, I realize. I’m sure hundreds of secularists are busily Googling “Thomas Jefferson anti-religion quotes” as we speak. It’s true that some of the Founders were skeptical of “organized religion” (as opposed to disorganized religion, I guess?) but none of them were atheists.

Jefferson was a Deist; a fact that only enhances the case for him being very accepting of God in the public square. Deists believe that the truth of a Divine Creator can be ascertained through observation and reason. In other words, they viewed God as an Absolute Reality (same as any other theist) but disagreed on the application of the reality.

Would Jefferson the Deist think that the governors of men should be required to ignore the Absolute Reality of God?

I doubt it. And the Declaration of Independence seems to indicate otherwise.

After all, we don’t need to cherry pick random statements from dead men, or even analyze the religiosity that is undeniably ingrained in our official laws and customs. We need only think about the philosophy that serves as the foundation of our country. It is a philosophy of Natural Rights. Our Natural Rights come from Natural Law. Natural Law — particularly since Augustine and, later, St. Aquinas’ Summa Theologica — has been understood as a set of foundational moral laws that are inherent in human beings.

Natural Law, and thus Natural Rights, either come from nature itself, or they come from the Creator of Nature. If they come from nature itself, then all democratic notions are in stark defiance of Natural Law. In nature, the strong survive and the weak are preyed upon. That is the law of the jungle; the law of beasts. We, however, subscribe to the transcendent notion that all humans possess a certain dignity which entitles them to certain liberties. This immaterial dignity did not come through an evolutionary process. It was endowed somehow. If it means anything, then it must be more than a “social contract” or a policy of government.

The dignity exists. It is real. It means something. It comes from somewhere.

That “somewhere” must be God.

Without God, your rights are an abhorrent perversion of the only True Natural Law — the Law of Mother Nature — and they are conditionally granted to you by bureaucrats and politicians, who can revoke them at any time and for any reason.

The Declaration of Independence might not be a legal document, but it is a philosophical document. It is America’s Manifesto. It explains that we have rights which are endowed on us by a Creator God. Every good thing about America has grown from this basic starting point.

But… the Separation of Church and State, you shout.

Should I insult your intelligence by reminding you that no such phrase exists in the Constitution? In fact, the First Amendment makes no mention of “separation,” “church,” or “state,” in any order or combination. The First Amendment puts no limit on religion at all. Instead, it limits the governments ability to interfere in religion, and permanently codifies our right to the “free exercise thereof.”

When Thomas Jefferson used the notorious phrase “Separation of Church and State” in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, he was describing a one-sided wall where the corruption of the Government could not infiltrate and infect the operations of the Church. He only chose those particular words because he was speaking to Baptists. He thought it might resonate with that crowd, considering the founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, had written 150 years earlier about the need for a “wall of separation between the garden of the Church and the wilderness of the World.”

So when the Supreme Court later used this letter to justify its legal opinion in Everson vs. Board of Education, it was really deciding case law based on part of a sentence written by a 17th century Baptist preacher.

Stellar work there, Your Honors.

Remember, the settlers were escaping a country that persecuted Catholics after King Henry VIII threw a hissy fit when the Pope wouldn’t change Canon Law to suit the king’s habit of divorcing and/or murdering his wives. The Crown was declared the “only supreme head of the Church in England,” and guys like Thomas More were summarily beheaded and chopped into pieces for refusing to recognize the king’s spiritual authority.

In other words, they were leaving a country where government had intruded on religion — not the other way around.

(**NOTE: I’m not saying that most of the North American settlers were Catholics fleeing Henry VIII. I’m only using this as an example of the sort of persecution religious people suffered under British rule.)

But, my atheist friends, I think you know all of this. Or at least some of it.

This country was built by God fearing men and women who intended to enshrine and protect the very rights that could only come from God Himself. God has always been central to America, both officially and unofficially, publicly and personally. This is the incontrovertible truth. It is a historical reality, and not one that can be reasonably debated.

If you would like to change America into something else, you are free to try. But have the guts to admit what you are doing. Be honest.

And then we can all get Italian ice together.



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394 Responses to America was built on a belief in God, and there’s just no way to deny that fact

  1. Adam says:

    That’s funny. I thought we were founded because we wanted to be our own nation and felt that having no say in our governance while being taxed by a ruler thousands of miles away was unfair. But I guess if Malachai Walsh says that we were founded just to praise God, then that must be what it is.

    I can think of a million reasons why Matt is full of crap, but instead I’ll just ask “Who cares?” Even if Matt’s straight up “Children of The Corn” belief that the founders were all about the lord is accurate, then so what? Our founders were brilliant as all get out for the late 18th century, but they also owned slaves and didn’t know how to not get Cholera. Our founding document, our owners manual, is made to be amended, which means its meant to change as the mindset of the nation changes. So ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the founders thought about God. Or economics. Or the Vice Presidency. Or Mexico. Or Canada. Or outer space. Or gravity. Or physics. Or evolution. Or flight. Or any of the things that we now have a clearer understanding of but which our founders, as brilliant as they were, had no freaking clue.

    England used to be a strict monarchy. Then Magna Carta happened. Then later on Oliver Cromwell happened. Then the monarchy came back, but in diluted form. The point is that no country ever stays precisely the same as when it was founded. For instance, our Senators aren’t appointed anymore. We don’t own slaves. After a brief flirtation with social puritanism, alcohol is legal again. Gays are no longer jailed. We aren’t the tiny sliver of an agrarian agricultural community that we used to be when we started.

    Even if Matt Walsh is right and thinks that this place was started for no other reason than for everybody to have the freedom to worship Jesus Christ in any way that pleases the beliefs of Matt Walsh, so what? We’re past that now.

    • pappad says:

      But that brilliant document contains the METHOD for it to change. It was NOT mean to change because one or two people decide to ignore what it says.

      • Adam says:

        What do you mean, one or two? There are millions and millions of people in this country who are not comfortable with the idea of any religion been favored over another. Or having our country be about any sort of religion. And is much as the guy who writes this blog raves about how terrible government is and how it’s impossible for any government agency or entity to do anything right, then I have to wonder why on earth it is he feels the need to have government involved in the religion business. What exactly does Malachi Walsh think is going to happen?

    • Jenna says:

      “Yes” to everything you said, Adam. Bravo!

      • Tony says:

        Good to see that not only can you not comprehend Matt’s post, but that you managed to pick out someone else who also can’t read and agree 100% with them.

    • Rebecca says:

      Did you even read his blog? Or did it all really just blow right over your head?

    • lars says:

      Straw man argument Adam. If you bothered to read the document with an open mind and heart, you would see that it merely calls on people like you to be honest about how this country was started. To pretend that the writer says the country was started “no other reason than for everybody to have the freedom to worship Jesus Christ…” is to LIE, or simply be obtuse. The whole point is to open up communication and to stop lying.
      Let me dumb this down to terms I think you can understand. The point is, to be honest about the truth of this country. The point is to communicate. Breath. Be calm. Not so bad right. Now debate how you think God doesn’t exist and how you don’t want anyone to worship him, that’s fair, but be HONEST about this country. Your straw man attack really points out what the author is saying about this debate on your side. You are not being honest in your approach. You come from a place of hurt and anger and seem to lash out against simple facts with vitriol that is not warranted.

      • Timmy Mac says:

        And how is Matt being honest? By saying the country was founded upon religion and ignoring that using religion to found our country included the rape, murder and pillaging of Native Americans? Real honest!

    • Tony says:

      Reading comprehension skills are wonderful.

      Matt did not say we weren’t founded as a republic, nor that we were founded as a country to worship God.

      Matt said that the founding fathers believed in God and transferred that belief into the founding of the country.

      It was a group of white, male, Christians. They had zero input from outside that demographic. Sure they got some stuff wrong with the founding. For one, there was Christian influence into the founding of the country. To deny this is just a lie.

    • Terrence says:

      “Strict monarchy”? Perhaps England was… but it still held to a feudalistic system with delegated power to regions. Your use of “strict” is arbitrary. You should do your research about the “Bloodless Revolution” in England as opposed to the “French Revolution”. The former was rooted in a debate between reason and revelation; Liberal Theism and Reformed Christianity. While the latter was rooted in Humanism. Simply because a country use to be a monarchy doesn’t necessarily make it bad. England’s monarchy did better than Ancient Greece’s Democracy. The conception of the American government is technically rooted John Locke’s Enlightenment-Inspired philosophy; and even his philosophy was rooted in Christian theology. The founding fathers of this nation weren’t Christian. That’s for certain. But they weren’t Deists or Atheists either. Such notions are absurd and unfounded. They were Theistic Rationalists… This is a newer, but fitting term that is used more accurately when explaining the religious beliefs of the founding fathers. They understood, as many Theists understand today, that without an objective standard on which to build reasoning, there can be no rationale for setting standards of any sort. Total “freedom” rooted in Humanism leads to anarchy which inevitably leads to despotism… or in our case, freedom from moral restraint has encouraged faction appeal by politicians to be perpetually elected by offering special deals for those holding to such narcissistic views. This in turn is leading the United States down the road to statism.

  2. Adam says:

    By the way, your history is APPALLING. APPALLING. Henry the VIII? Are you kidding?

    “Settlers” is not the name for the folks who came here looking for “religious freedom.” A better word would be “evictees.” One of the primary reasons the Puritans came to New England was because Old England had had quite enough of them. Oliver Cromwell was a Puritan and a fundamentalist. And he had the Major Generals riding around as sort of a Christian Taliban making sure everybody worshiped in the right way. England couldn’t wait to get rid of them and restore the monarchy after Cromwell died.

    And these “settlers,” as you so nicely call them, were ALL ABOUT the persecution of Catholics. They loved that to pieces. In fact, they got upset with King Charles the 1st and were one of the main forces behind the English Civil War specifically because he wasn’t being hard enough on the Catholics. How the hell can you possibly say that the “settlers” were upset over Catholic oppression? I know you sort of take it as a badge of honor that you never went to college, but come on, man. Crack a book or something.

    • pappad says:

      Take your own advice, Adam. Not all the original settlers came from England. Henry VIII DID repudiate Catholicism and install himself as the “pope” of the Anglican church with the same powers enjoyed by the Catholic Pope. The VAST majority of pre-Revolutionary War Europe was Catholic. Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Lichtenstein, parts of Prussia, Greece, Czechoslovakia, etc. Some Netherlanders were Calvinists, much of Prussia and Denmark were Lutheran, but the Catholic Church WAS predominant.

      • Adam says:

        Yeah, that wasn’t what Malachi Walsh said. He said the settlers were escaping England because King Henry VIII was persecuting Catholics. That is the wrongest thing ever uttered. The settlers in New England were Protestants. Puritans to be specific. If they were fleeing anything, they were fleeing the “threat of creeping papacy.” And the settlers down south had a main concern in creating bags and bags and bags of money. The notion that anyone came here to establish this wonderful free religion playground is bogus.

        • Thomas says:

          “(**NOTE: I’m not saying that most of the North American settlers were Catholics fleeing Henry VIII. I’m only using this as an example of the sort of persecution religious people suffered under British rule.)”

          Do you actually read before you critize? BTW Maryland was founded by Catholics fleeing religious persecution.

  3. Reblogged this on FlyKimmie and commented:
    Matt Walsh…it’s like we’re one mind in two bodies… Love your blog!

  4. That’s hilarious, Matt. You start your blog by saying, “let’s have an honest conversation” and then you make your opponent sound like Hitler, which of course, your readers will have to say, “those people are crazy.” That’s not honest. Here’s our honest argument: We want you to follow the law. that’s all we’re asking. You respect our religion (or lack of) and we’ll respect yours.
    Continental Congress? Really? The Continental Congress was part of England, not The United States. Yes, it was in the Americas, but the US didn’t exist when the CC was meeting. You might as well quote from the Confederate States of America while you’re at it.

    Here’s a fact you can’t deny: it doesn’t matter if Washington kneeled down 5 times a day and prayed to Allah; it doesn’t matter if Jefferson ordered everyone to drink the cool-aid; it doesn’t matter if Franklin believed in reincarnation. What matters is what is in the Constitution of The United States of America.

    And the Constitution says that the government shall not establish a religion or promote one religion over any other. (I’m paraphrasing.) IT DOES NOT SAY, “except for Christianity.”
    So if you want to put a nativity scene on your front lawn, we support you. If your neighbor wants to carve his bushes into a Star of David, we support that too. If your other neighbor wants to pray to Allah on his front lawn every day, guess what? Supported.

    Our problem is with the “public square” which by definition belongs to everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike. When you put a nativity scene on OUR property and exclude all other religions, you’re breaking the law and violating my rights. Now, if you allow me to hang a Secular banner, and allow the Jews to put up their stuff, and Muslims too, Buddhists, Sikhs, Wiccans, etc. That’s legal. You have to allow ALL BELEIFS on the public square, or none. That’s what the Constitution says. And when I ask you to support the Constitution and defend the rights of all Americans, I’m certainly not asking to “fundamentally change the United States of America.” That’s not honest.

    • InTheMiddle says:

      Well said Jack St. Clair!

    • pappad says:

      Do you have a reading problem? The 1st Amendment does say that Congress may not establish a State religion, but it ALSO says that Congress may not interfere with the free exercise of any citizen’s religion…period. It DOES NOT say that anyone has a right to be “free from religion” or religious expressions. If you’re going to quote the Constitution, first learn to READ it.

      • jamesrovira says:

        The atheists that I have read on this thread interpret “freedom from religion” to mean “freedom from government imposed religious expression.” I don’t see them meaning by that “freedom from anyone’s religious expression.” That would be unreasonable — and impractical. Like, every church in the US is going to take its crosses down? No, they don’t expect that. The only time you see atheists really speaking up about religious expression is when it occurs on govt. property, such as public schools, etc.

        • pappad says:

          So you’re saying that if you live in a community that’s 99% Christian and 1% atheist, the ATHEIST’s opinions should carry more weight that the 99%? BS. I thought you folks were all about “majority rules”….or does that apply only when YOU are in the majority?

      • jamesrovira says:

        Wait — are you saying that if 99% of the country really is Christian, then the government should be enforcing Christian belief?

        If not, then what part of left field did that question just come from?

        Remember that the person up above, and myself, have no interest in restricting religious expression on the whole, but just on government property.

        I will say I’m unsure what he means by “public” property — which might include sidewalks, easements, public parks, etc. What I’m talking about are buildings and properties specifically associated with government activity, such as courthouses, public schools, etc.

        The point is not to promote atheism. The point is to not promote or deny anything. The “no establishment” clause has to do with “non-promotion” of any one religion on the part of the government.

        • Thomas says:

          Unfortunately there is no middle ground here. You either acknowledge the God from where our liberties arise or you favor secular humanism. An empty courthouse square speaks loudly for the later, and there is just no way of getting around it.

        • InTheMiddle says:

          Thomas — there’s a lot of middle ground here. There’s so much middle ground that the Founding Fathers, all religious men, had the foresight to leave God out of the Constitution and to separate the political realm from the religious one.

          Most important, however, is no group has the right to impose their beliefs on another group within the political/legal realm. This hasn’t stopped it from happening a great deal, however!

        • pappad says:

          ….which is a silly argument. ALL laws are predicated on SOMEONE’S idea of what’s moral. All that’s left to us is to decide who’s idea of morality we wish to follow when passing laws. Do you think it’s “moral” to cut off a man’s hand for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his children? Islam does. Do you think it’s “moral” to allow cattle to wander our streets, defecating all over them, threatening our children at play because cattle are “sacred” and not to be disturbed? Hinduism does. Do you think it’s “moral” to instruct your adherents to go out and “kill a white woman” because she may have put a “hex” on your wife, preventing her from conceiving? Some pagan religions in Africa think so.

        • jamesrovira says:

          Thomas — the Founding Fathers, so far as I can tell, did think the Federal government should occupy a middle ground, which is the thinking behind the first amendment.

          Are you saying that the government of the US should be a theocracy?

          If you’re talking about the individual — then perhaps what you are saying is true, but the positions occupied by the federal government do not have to mirror options available to the individual.

        • Thomas says:

          In the Middle,

          “Thomas — there’s a lot of middle ground here. There’s so much middle ground that the Founding Fathers, all religious men, had the foresight to leave God out of the Constitution and to separate the political realm from the religious one.”

          The Constitution is not godless. It is based upon solid Christian principals. For example they strongly believed that man is sinful (a Christian principal), and that if left to himself will allow power to corrupt him. Because of this they instituted a checks and balance system that did not leave in the hands of any one person absolute power. They based their laws upon the common law of England which derived in turn upon the laws formulated within Christendom during the middle ages. Etc. Any cursory reading of the their writings, speeches and actions you will find an overwhelming deluge of evidence that they did not believe that the two should be separate. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was enacted to protect the various Christian denominations from having one of their number favored as the National Church, as it had been in England and in many of the States at the time. That was it. It definitely was not enacted to stop all expression or influence of Christianity on the government. Once again they certainly didn’t act this way if that was what they were attempting to do.

          “Most important, however, is no group has the right to impose their beliefs on another group within the political/legal realm.”

          This is a nonsensical statement. All law is the imposition of the beliefs of one group against another.

        • Thomas says:


          Are you saying that the government of the US should be a theocracy?

          I’m saying that in a sense it can’t help but be a theocracy, and we are just arguing over which god we should serve.

        • jamesrovira says:

          Thomas — no, I don’t think any government should be a theocracy.

          By saying so, I’m aligning myself with the point of view of the Founding Fathers, whose point of view disagrees with your own.

          I think you’re using the word “theocracy” too broadly. The general “religious” principles that you believe support or underlie the US Constitution aren’t unique to any one religion, and are so broadly conceived that they need not be regarded from a religious point of view at all — remember, philosophy also talks about God.

        • Thomas says:


          I’m curious, what religion other than Christianity has a concept of equality or liberty? There is a reason that the abolition of slavery was pushed by dedicated Christians, and was enacted first in the Christian West. What other religion has the concept of the depravity/sinfulness of man? There is a reason why modern democracies were formed first in the Christian West. What other religion has the concept of private property as an inalienable right? There is a reason that modern economies were first formed in the Christian West. These are all Judeo-Christian concepts that arise out of that theology and are the exception, not the rule of history. When you seek to jettison the foundation of these concepts you will eventually jettison the principals as well.

          Why is it that all men are created equal? Are they really endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights? Why is it that slavery is wrong? Is there a purely secular answer to these questions? Or is the only way you can ultimately satisfactorially answers these questions is by borrowing from the Christian deposit of your forefathers?

          The reason I use theocracy broadly is that there is no definable distinction between the sacred and the secular. ALL philosophy is founded upon faith based presuppositions. Our philosophy of government is no different. The only real question we must ask is which faith based presuppositions should govern? The one that has given us the liberties that we presently enjoy or another.

        • jamesrovira says:


          If you want to speak intelligently, then you need to think clearly about your terms and what you’re really saying.

          “Judeo-Christian” isn’t a “religion.” It’s a large catch phrase encompassing a variety of very diverse religions that fall under two large umbrellas: Judaism and Christianity. So that the very least, you’re dealing with two different religions here.

          “Judaism” isn’t just one religion either, but an umbrella term for a major monotheistic religion with a variety of subgroups.

          “Christianity” isn’t just one religion, but an umbrella terms for another major monotheistic religion with a variety of subgroups.

          So if you — in opposition to the beliefs of America’s Founding Fathers — believe that the federal government should support a religion, you’re first going to have to choose between Judaism and Christianity, and then you’re going to have to choose among which branches of those religions.

          Now if you think I’m being too precise and academic, that’s exactly the situation the founding fathers faced — they were by and large Christians of a number of different types (Puritans, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Shakers, etc.) who were disenfranchised politically by Christians of another type (Anglicans).

          So it’s not enough to say that our country is “founded on a belief in God” or that we’re a “Christian” nation. That was true for the founding fathers, and it wasn’t good enough for them. In practice, in fact, it was total BS.

          Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — the major monotheistic religions — have similar concepts of sin. Not all Christians throughout time have had the same formulation of original sin, so we can’t get that specific without abandoning some generic, non-existent “Christianity” for a specific denomination or theological tradition within it.

          And you’re very ignorant of the history of equality and of human rights if you think it originated in Protestant democracies:

          Cyrus the Great in 539 BC started by freeing the slaves, establishing racial equality, and saying everyone was free to practice their own religions. There were precedents in Greece and Rome too. The founding fathers were drawing from a very long history and at most Christianizing it, but they didn’t invent the concepts. Anti-slavery rhetoric even pre-existed Paul’s letters.

          And for that matter, Christians — or the Judeo-Christian tradition — hasn’t always been consistently antislavery. The Hebrew Scriptures do allow for slave ownership, though for a limited time (in principle — jubilee never happened in practice). Paul was against slave trading and slavery in principle, but wasn’t seeking political solutions to the overturning of slavery. And of course all of those Southerners fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War believed they were good Christians, as did all of the early members of the KKK.

          Or do you really not know that much about history after all?

        • pappad says:

          No it doesn’t. The Establishment Clause is there so that the FEDERAL government cannot “establish” a State Religion…period. Otherwise, the 1st Amendment prohibits Congress from interfering in ANYONE’S religious practices. Of course, implied in that is that “religious practices” must refer to the practices of a recognized, ACTUAL religion and not one made up so its “adherents” can have their doobies wherever they want.

        • Thomas says:

          I didn’t say that Judeo-Christian was a religion. The term is an acknowledgment that Christianity’s roots lie in the Jewish faith. Therefore the concepts and principals flow through Judaism to Christianity. Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. There are indeed various traditions in Judaism and Christianity but to say that they encompass numerous religions is ridiculous.

          Once again the Founders were not opposed to the Federal Government being influenced by Christianity. Christian thought was at the time so pervasive that it was impossible for them to not be.

          If Christianity is a fulfillment of Judaism then it would follow that they would have the same concept of sin. As far as Islam goes, I think that while on the surface it may seem like they have a similar concept of sin, if you deep a bit deeper this is not the case.

          As far as Cyrus the Great hogwash I will merely point you to the Wikipedia article on this.

          Specifically this text:

          “A false translation of the text – affirming, among other things, the abolition of slavery and the right to self-determination, a minimum wage and asylum – has been promoted on the Internet and elsewhere. As well as making claims that are not found on the real cylinder, it refers to the Zoroastrian divinity Ahura Mazda rather than the Mesopotamian god Marduk. The false translation has been widely circulated; alluding to its claim that Cyrus supposedly has stated that “Every country shall decide for itself whether or not it wants my leadership.”  Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi in her acceptance speech described Cyrus as “the very emperor who proclaimed at the pinnacle of power 2,500 years ago that … he would not reign over the people if they did not wish it”. Similarly, in a 2006 speech, United States President George W. Bush referred to Cyrus, declaring that his people had “the right to worship God in freedom”– a statement made nowhere in the text of the Cylinder.”

          Actually it turns out that Cyrus was a typical ancient king, ie he was a rather brutal dictator who often engaged in torture and enslaved the peoples he conquered.

          As for slavery no we didn’t invent it and it took us a while, but we were the first to eventually abolish it.

        • pappad says:

          Wrong. Great Britain abolished slavery BEFORE we fought the war between the States and ultimately did the same thing. BTW, the so-called “Civil War” was NOT fought primarily to free slaves. It was fought because the Confederate States were sick and tired of being run over by the Northern States economically and voted to secede from the union (which the Constitution ALLOWED them to do, by the way) and the Union went to war to PREVENT them from doing that.

        • jamesrovira says:


          I won’t argue the translation issue because we would rapidly get to the point where we would have to compare expert opinion and engage in a debate about a language neither of us knows, but that was just one example. The FFs were working with Greek and Roman precedents too.

          No, the British abolished slavery before the US did as a nation. So did many others:

          Japan abolished slavery (pre-Christian Japan too) in the 13thC.
          France, Sweden, and China (China was also pre-Christian) abolished slavery in the 14thC.
          Croatia abolished slavery in the 15thC.
          The Roman Catholic Church rejected slavery in the 16thC.

          The US is closer to last on the list to abolish slavery than the first.

          If you think differences among Christians don’t matter historically, boy you have a lot to learn. And yes, the Founding Fathers would certainly disagree with that claim, seeing that a big part of British identity was being “not Catholic” for a couple of centuries before the revolutionary war. They wrote the first amendment for a reason. I cite some of those reasons in my first response to this article. British law didn’t recognize “Christians.” It only recognized Anglicans.

        • Thomas says:


          You have an uncanny ability to read what I didn’t write, and not read what I did write.

        • jamesrovira says:


          You said,

          “As for slavery no we didn’t invent it and it took us a while, but we were the first to eventually abolish it.”

          And no, that’s not true.

        • Jen says:

          @Thomas and James…

          First… Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Protestant, Episcopalian/Anglican, Mormon / Latter-Day Saints, Mennonite, Jehovah’s Witness… those are just a few of the Christian faiths. Each one of these are a different religion, but are connected as a whole as Christianity.

          As for the wikipedia references, you can only go so far. Those pages are written by every day folks like us based from our research and just make it published on their pages. In doing research projects with my boys through their high school years found it is a source but not reliable. Some subjects searched gave us opposing results just like reading your comment stream debate.

          Bottom line here is you both have good points but neither of you are 100% correct.

          @ the atheists… atheism is the disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. Therefor, not a religion.

          All that being said America was founded by religious men. It is in the history of our architect and the government buildings are art and history themselves and should be left alone. If you do not believe in a religion at least respect history. And if you do not believe in religion then it should not bother you to have the meaningless symbols on the buildings. If you have no religious beliefs then it is just a shape and get over it already.

        • jamesrovira says:

          Jen —

          I quote from Wikipedia because it’s a readily available source. I have done a lot of reading in British history and theology on my own, independently of Wikipedia, so I only refer to it when I feel it reflects information that I’ve found in professional sources. Professionals do contribute to Wikipedia, however (the more obscure the subject the more likely a professional is contributing), so the problem is not that Wikipedia is inaccurate, but that it’s inconsistent.

          And you’re missing my point: the fact that all of these might call themselves “Christians” is irrelevant. The Christian Puritans had to flee the Christian Anglicans in England and emigrate to North America because they killed a Christian monarch in a civil war fought by a variety of Christian groups amongst themselves. The general category of “Christianity” was irrelevant to the context of the founding fathers and their immediate predecessors: the wars and differences among them may as well have been fought between Muslims and Catholics in the 13th century.

        • pappad says:

          Wrong. Atheism is the BELIEF that there is no God. It’s a “belief” because there’s no possible way anyone can KNOW there is no God.

        • Thomas says:


          Why would you define religion as necessarily a belief in a god or gods? Confucianism and Taoism are both religions that do not necessarily require a belief in a god. This is a false dichotomy. Religion is any pervasive philosophical systematic viewpoint that seeks to describe existence. Lack of belief in the supernatural (i.e. Atheism) is just another of these viewpoints. An irrational and illogical one, but one none the less. Everybody has a worldview. It is impossible to avoid. Ergo it is impossible to have a government not based upon a religion.

  5. Tim says:

    The arrogance (and ignorance) of the atheist trolls commenting on this thread is pretty funny. Meanwhile, Matt makes money from their traffic on his page. God bless our Christian nation!

  6. Lauren says:

    I’m not an atheist, but I believe in keeping religion out of politics. I can appreciate your love for history, but many of the founding fathers that so many Americans idolize also owned slaves. Should we take that cue as well? Times change. Society evolves. Shouldn’t politics do the same?

    • pappad says:

      Politics? Yes. The Constitution and it’s plain language and meaning? Not without an AMENDMENT to it. It cannot be legally changed by fiat. If only our government goobers understood that simple FACT.

    • Payton says:

      Slavery has nothing to do with any of this. It just doesn’t.
      And neither does the Native slaughters.
      Believe it, whether you like it or not, there IS religious freedom in this country. There isn’t anyone exiling or sentencing someone for being Atheist. We are not saying, “believe in God, or leave.” Do whatever you want. But don’t pretend that there is no freedom of religion.

      If America was a Buddhist country, but it was AMERICA, the land of the free, the place where I can be a Christian, and no one could make me become otherwise, I wouldn’t dare touch their deep religious roots. I will be myself, and worship how I worship. To criticize the country’s traditional belief would be a dishonor to the blessing of actually being in America. You are in America. Do not push your luck. Be grateful for what you have here.

  7. karlbonner1982 says:

    The United States was founded upon the idea of equal treatment of ALL religions, including the lack of religion. The reason is that the Founders understood God to be a very personable entity, who different people worship in different ways. Some people praise God by praying to Jesus. Others praise God by facing Mecca. Still others praise God by honoring the turning of the seasons.

    For any one group to claim preferential treatment just because their belief system is more popular, goes against the radical pro-freedom concept of religion that America was founded upon. Freedom for a narrow-minded religious faction to bully and intimidate smaller-numbered factions is NOT the kind of freedom enshrined in the Bill of Rights. That’s why federal, state and local governments must always take a truly libertarian approach to dealing with religious differences – live and let live!

  8. trivialize says:

    So turns out the Senate of 1797 and John Adams disagree with you. The treaty of Tripoli states “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Note they didn’t say that The United States of America is not a theocracy. They said The United States of America is in no sense founded on the Christian religion. The founders also said that Congress shall make NO law respecting the establishment of religion. This isn’t a country founded on religion. It is a country founded, primarily, by religious people on principles of secularism.

  9. dalekramer says:

    Awesome article. Love the part about Jefferson.

  10. dalekramer says:

    Reblogged this on dalekramerblog and commented:

  11. dalekramer says:

    Reblogged this on Ethos,Pathos, Logos and commented:

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  14. Here is how the honest argument would go:

    Matt: Waaa! I can’t force everyone to pray to MY god in all the public schools and every time I want to put up a monument or banner to worship my god, I can’t without SOMEONE else wanting to do the same and I DON’T WANT TO SHARE our public space with your gods! Waaa!

    Me: Yeah, poor fella. The majority is often persecuted by the minority.

  15. Amy says:

    Spot on. The blind with bias themselves over and over in their arguments.

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  18. Timmy Mac says:

    -“You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do every thing they can to assist you in this wise intention…” – George Washington’s speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs.

    Tell us Matt, how’d that end up working out for the Native Americans? Let’s have an HONEST conversation…

    • Thomas says:

      Are you saying that the Christian faith caused the plight of the Native Americans? How so? Or maybe it was caused in spite of Christian teaching and as a partial result of the actions of Native Americans? The massacres were not all one sided.

  19. Payton says:

    To those with the “slavery of founding fathers” and “founding father’s mass murders of Natives” arguments:
    Slavery has nothing to do with any of this. It just doesn’t.
    And neither does the Native slaughters.
    Yes, the founding fathers were not perfect, unlike any member of any church, but that is way off of this topic.

    Believe it, whether you like it or not, there IS religious freedom in this country. There isn’t anyone exiling or sentencing someone for being Atheist. We are not saying, “believe in God, or leave.” Do whatever you want. But don’t pretend that there is no freedom of religion.

    If America was a Buddhist country, but it was AMERICA, the land of the free, the place where I can be a Christian, and no one could make me become otherwise, I wouldn’t dare touch their deep religious roots. I will be myself, and worship how I worship. To criticize the country’s traditional belief would be a dishonor to the blessing of actually being in America. You are in America. Do not push your luck. Be grateful for what you have here.

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  21. Mirsm says:

    First, I have no idea why you are so astounded that the President spoke about his religious beliefs. Only those who hate him have ever said anything to the contrary.

    Second, the evidence that the United States was founded on a belief in God is staggering? Yet, even as you recite quotations that are supposed to prove your point, you admit that people who disagree with you can find a wealth of contradictory quotes — only you don’t want to hear them. Not a good model of honesty!

    So, now let’s really be honest: Yes, the Declaration of Independence speaks of natural law and a creator. Yes, many or most (but not all) of the Founding Fathers (whom I’ll define as the signers of either the Declaration of Independence or U.S. Constitution) were Christian; many devoutly so. It’s also true, however, that when it came to writing the document put a government in place, even those devoutly Christian Founders signed a U.S. Constitution that mentioned religion only one time, and that was to protect against those who would impose religious tests on elected officials. And then, the states ratified the First Amendment prohibiting Congress from either promoting or interfering with religion. Then later the Fourteenth Amendment extended the reach of the First Amendment from only the federal government to include the states. In other words, those devoutly religious Founding Fathers, and those who followed, knew that the only way to secure the blessings of liberty (including religious liberty) to themselves and posterity was to separate religion and government. So whether the Founding Fathers were Christian, or Buddhist, or Deist, or atheist, or merely confused about God doesn’t matter — because they chose not to make it matter.

    And there’s just no way to deny that fact.

    • pappad says:

      Actually, I DO deny it. First of all, the 1st Amendment did NOT prohibit Congress from “promoting” religion. It prohibited Congress from establishing a STATE religion…as existed in EVERY European State at the time. If prohibiting promotion of religion WAS their intent, they missed the mark by a WIDE margin. From day one of the new nation, that very Congress opened up each session with a prayer–a practice which continues to this day. Both the Senate and the House employ a chaplain and occasionally invite visiting priests, rabbis and even an imam to recite their session opening prayer. You people simply cannot continue to exist in the miasma of denial in which you’ve wrapped yourselves.

  22. You know a post is getting out of hand when people start directly citing wikipedia

  23. James Burns Jr says:

    The American Revolution was not a Christian act. For which of these reasons should Christians kill, Life? Liberty? The pursuit of happiness? Would Jesus have killed for these reasons? He told his followers to love our enemies and that His kingdom was not of this world. So, America and no other nation is “God’s Kingdom” In fact God count the nations of this world as insignificant as the dust on the balance but he considers people worth dieing for. As Christians we renounce our citizenships to any of the kingdoms of this world because their god is not our God.

  24. Delia says:

    I am always amused by the “the separation of church and state is not in the Constitution:” argument. Well, yeah if you mean it only as literally those words then yes, that is the case. But the first amendment so clearly embodies both the want for and means of separation of church and state that to deny it is in the Constitution takes a level of denial I, for one, cannot muster. The freedom to practice and the establishment clause together form the basis for separation of church and state. Not only did they make it into the Constitution they are number one on the Bill of Rights. Guarding against the establishment of state religion even made top billing. However, that being said I am with Adam, “who cares”? The framers set out to “form a more perfect union” they were acknowledging that what they had then (religion intertwined with government being part of it) was imperfect. They were designing a document to facilitate change not celebrate the way things were.

    • pappad says:

      Glad you’re amused, Delia. Still, you don’t explain HOW the establishment and “non-interference” clauses constitute a desire on the part of the founders to keep State and Church entirely separate. Especially in light of the writings of some of those same founders to be found in “The Federalist.”

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  26. Amy says:

    Little late to the game there 3k, but funny nonetheless. I suppose I’m just boggled when people misunderstand the context of an article and then argue about it for three weeks without adding much of any real information, i.e. hard text, that would either support or deny either claim. I’ll stand behind Matt on his blog, unless someone can actually prove that what he actually said isn’t true, but since no one did and I have in my own knowledge the information from the list that goes on and on, I think I may have an eternally long wait.

    P.S., my comment here is not to add said hard text claims. If I felt anyone came close to rebutting Matt’s article, I then would. Until then, God bless you all mightily in our imperfect world.

  27. gc says:

    The United States wasn’t founded upon Chrstian principles or Christianity for that matter.

  28. Terrence says:

    It’s a common misnomer to classify Jefferson as a Deist… He, along with the majority of the United States founding fathers, was actually a “Theistic Rationalist”. This is a newer term for sure, but much more accurate. I recommend in-depth research by appealing to Dr. Gregg Frazzer and his use of the term. Great article Matt. God bless.

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