America's National Religion

What differentiates democracy from other forms of government like fascism, communism, totalitarianism and monarchy?

  • Emotion and virtue dominate private morals, which dictate our public actions.
  • Democracy's basis on the idea that Americans are morally accountable.

Reactions?

  • "The truth is, politics and morality are inseparable. And as morality's foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related. We need religion as a guide. We need it because we are imperfect...If you practice a religion, whether you're Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or guided by some other faith, then your private life will be influenced by a sense of moral obligation. And so, too, will your public life." (Ronald Reagan, 1984)
  • "Abolition and civil rights legislatively protected—those things have happened not because of some government plan, but because free individuals exercised their freedom of religion and responded doing what they saw as a religious duty." (John T. Noonan Jr.)
  • "The Abolitionist movement was, at heart, a moral and religious movement. So was the modern civil rights struggle." (Reagan, 1984)
  • "...intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favoured land" could still solve "our present difficulty." (Abraham Lincoln)

  • “Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first-the most basic-expression of Americanism” (President Eisenhower, 1955)

Historically speaking, America is a Christian nation

  • Puritans founded America for religious reasons
  • Declaration of Independence "Laws of Nature and Nature's God", "endowed by their creator", "supreme judge", "divine providence"
  • Pledge of Allegiance "one nation under God"
  • Early schools utilized the New England primer, which taught religion beside spelling
  • Religious inspiration in major historical events such as the American revolution and civil rights movement
  • Blue Laws
  • Abortion/LGBTQ issues today

The New England Primer

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“For the centuries the Bible has exerted an unrivaled influence on American culture, politics, and social life. Now historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution is our founding document: the source of the powerful myth of the US as a special, sacred nation, a people called by God to establish a model society, a beacon to the world.” (Newsweek Magazine, 1983)

Concept of "Chosen Nations"

  • Israel and America
  • City on a Hill, Manifest Destiny, Providence
  • Dr. King's comparison in his "Dream" speech of African Americans to Israelites
  • covenants
  • idea of "choseness" and how it fostered efforts to establish socially just nations

What Now? "Religion brought forth prosperity, and the daughter destroyed the mother.... There is danger lest the enchantments of this world make them forget their errand into the wilderness." (Cotton Mather)

"But in the 1960's this began to change. We began to make great steps toward secularizing our nation and removing religion from its honored place." (Ronald Reagan)



  • How can we preserve democracy and the idea of civil, moral responsibility as cultural diversity and atheism increase in today's America and thus loosen the hold of religion or a specific religion on the nation's morals?

"I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith" (Romans 1:11-12)