Atheists, show me proof that the United States was founded as a secular nation instead of a deistic nation.?

I'm trying to argue why the word "God" shouldn't be in our money, court oaths, and classroom pledges.

20 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Article VI, section 3 of the United States Constitution states:

    "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

    That in itself would seem to suggest the Founding Fathers intended for the United States to be a secular nation instead of a deistic one, since they took pains to make it explicit no one in the United States could enforce any religious standard within the government. That intention is echoed by the First Amendment:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Here we see that not only did the Founding Fathers take pains to forbid anyone from imposing a deistic standard on the government itself, but that they took pains to forbid the government from imposing such a standard on the people.

    As others have pointed out, this is echoed in Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, which was passed unanimously into law less than a decade after the Constitution was ratified, and which was signed by John Adams, who was one of the Founding Fathers.

    But, what were the private intentions of the Founding Fathers? Well, John Adams himself summed up his position in an 1812 letter to Benjamin Rush, in which he said "nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion".

    However, let's briefly turn our attention to the two whose minds most became the American Dream: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Between the two, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were penned. If anyone had an inkling as to what the intentions of the Founding Fathers were, it would be them, and what did they have to say about the notion of separating church and state?

    Thomas Jefferson:

    "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."

    James Madison:

    "Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and & Gov't in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history."

    "Congress should not establish a religion and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contary to their conscience, or that one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform."

    "Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In the strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion."

    * * *

    And the list of quotes from him goes on. He was very outspoken on the matter. It seems fairly clear, given the wording of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the early legal precedents on the matter, and the commentary from both the Father of the Declaration and the Father of the Constitution that when the Founding Fathers conceived of America, they did not conceive of a Christian nation, or even a religious one, but rather of a secular nation which undertook, in part, the duty of protecting the religious convictions of all its citizens, even from itself and each other.

    Source(s): On one thing inkiller is right. You should examine United States history for yourself and not simply take the word of anyone. For example, it has been claimed recently that the Treaty of Tripoli doesn't actually contain the Article 11 which says the United States is not founded on Christianity, and claimants will quickly pull out "our copy" from 1805, point straight to Article 11 and triumphantly say "see, it's not in there". What they fail to mention, though, is that there is more than one Treaty of Tripoli, and they're pointing you to the WRONG ONE. The Treaty of Tripoli in which it is states that the United States is not a Christian nation is the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1796, not the Treaty of Peace and Amity signed into law in 1805. The implication that the 1805 treaty is somehow a "translation" of the 1796 Treaty from its "original Arabic" is a lie. Do you REALLY think the United States would negotiate and write a treaty entirely in a foreign language, vote on it and sign it into law without knowing what both sides truly agreed to, and only afterward try to translate it back into English? Do the Founding Fathers sound like people who would overlook such details to you? They're employing a bait-and-switch, and counting on your unfamiliarity with the legal documents from that period in history to deceive you. Personally, I think if they had a real case, they probably wouldn't have to resort to such tactics, but again, you don't have to take my word for it.
  • 1 decade ago

    I could fill up this page with quotes from our founding fathers in which they intended for this nation to be secular...

    By why don't I just start with the one that really matters:

    The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion"

  • 1 decade ago

    Read up a little bit of how Thomas Jefferson saw religion in the government. T.J. even had laws made that no secular religion would be allowed in the USA government. The bible states very clearly that no one should swear to anything in gods name. That includes pledges.

  • Tim C
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Well Deism is still secular for starters, it has no doctrine or code of conduct to follow.

    Then there's the fact that god was added to all of those things later, the pledge and paper money were in the 1950's.

    Finally, count how many instances of god, Jesus, or Christ there are in the constitution and then count how many instances there are of separating religion and government.

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  • 1 decade ago

    "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."

    From the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797. It was ratified by the Senate unanimously, that is every member agreed to a document that contained that specific wording within it.


    Edit@ Inkiller:

    Actually no, I "got" it from a college U.S. Government textbook I still have kicking around.

    If you wish to go by Wikipedia though, you yourself must not have read the section directly beneath your own quote which states:

    "It is important to note, though, that as Miller said:

    It is to be remembered that the Barlow translation is that which was submitted to the Senate (American State Papers, Foreign Relations, II, 18-19) and which is printed in the Statutes at Large and in treaty collections generally; it is that English text which in the United States has always been deemed the text of the treaty.[15]

    However the Arabic and English texts differ, the Barlow translation (Article 11 included) was the text presented to, read aloud in, and ratified unanimously by the U.S. Senate."

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Because it was not and all the proof you need is printed in the history books. The lies about religious foundation are only found in christian tracts!!

    There is an easy argument about why "In god we trust" should not be there!!

    Dollar on the floor, huge national debt, sub prime debt, trillions wasted on futile wars whilst 46 million americans live below the poverty line with little or no health care or education - AND - YES - that is 46 MILLION!!

    surely proof positive that the trust was entirely misplaced?!!

  • 1 decade ago

    The Treaty of Tripoli has already shown to be a fraud. I suggest you ACTUALLY study American history. That is basically the only document secularlists claim. The rest is just random quotes taken out of context from various letters an documents. For my part, I see God and Christianity talked about as great among the four fathers far more then it even is today. The first Congress, btw, actually was the one that put the Bible into our education until the 60s.

    THat is why the Treaty of Tripoli is a complete fake, for it makes no sense whatsoever of any history in that age.

    John Adams himself said the EXACT opposite:

    "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.

    The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in this earth. Not a baptism, not a marriage, not a sacrament can be administered but by the Holy Ghost. . . . There is no authority, civil or religious – there can be no legitimate government but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it. All without it is rebellion and perdition, or in more orthodox words damnation.

    Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company: I mean hell.

    The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity.

    Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!

    I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world."

    -John Adams

    Kinda hard to believe at all that John Adams SIGNED that Treaty as the current President at that time, when he said the exact opposite of what it stated. Like I said, none of it adds up at all and the Treaty should be rejected as a fraud or faulty on the passage.

    I bet you got that from wikipedia, which states:

    "Article 11 reads:

    Art. 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.

    Advocates of the separation of church and state claim that this text constitutes evidence that the United States Government was not founded on the Christian religion. The Senate's ratification was only the third recorded unanimous vote of 339 votes taken."

    If you did, you also missed this right after:

    "The translation of the Treaty of Tripoli by Barlow has been found faulty, and there is doubt whether Article 11 in the version of the treaty ratified by Congress corresponds to anything of the same purport in the Arabic version"

    That is even more then I expected from wikipedia, as I always believe to be more secular about those religious questions today. I would post a whole montage on this, but you get the point.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    What part of "Separation" don't you understand? As in separation of church and state. The United States of America was never intended to be a theocracy. It was intended to be a nation of freedom from being forced by the government to follow a religion one did not believe in because the government adopted it as the "National Religion."

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

    Check the constitution.

    Check mate.

    Oh, here's an extra special fact, "Under God" wasn't added to the pledge till the Cold War, in order to point out the stark differences between ourselves and the soviet union. It was the decision of ONE religious President. Not Congress, not the public.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    "The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."

    -Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

    Bill of Rights, Amendment I

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