« Previous Story | Front Page | Next Story »


Saying U.S. is 'Christian Nation' is Both Dangerous and False!

By C. Dillman Williams
Opinion | February 7, 2010

WICHITA, Kan. - Joseph Goebbels famously said, "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth." As Hitler's Reichsminister of Propaganda, Goebbels used repetition to mold the German public's perception of reality as easily as if it were a clump of wet clay.

Karl Rove, Goebbels' modern-day equivalent during the Bush administration, effectively used Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Judith Miller at The New York Times and other mainstream media to hammer home the lie that Iraq had WMDs. And, according to the Center for Public Integrity, another 934 additional lies as well, which they repeated so often that they successfully panicked the public, stampeded Congress and fraudulently obtained permission to invade Iraq.

Today, the firm of "Rove, Goebbels & Cheney, LLC" and their dozens of "staff members" are still employing lies and repetition of lies a la Goebbels recipe, and they are doing it with great effect.

One of the false rumors with which Rove and his helpers are repeatedly bludgeoning the public's psyche is the myth that the U.S. constitution is based on Christian principles. Though there are, indeed, many parallels between Christian values and those values our founding fathers garnered from the great thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment, there is a little known document that proves that their origins were the great thinkers of the Enlightenment and were not based on the Christian Bible. It is the Treaty of Tripoli that was drawn up specifically to debunk fears among Muslim people around the world that America was not truly a religion-neutral country, as it's constitution proclaimed: a country where people of all religions or no religion at all could be free to follow their conscience according to their own beliefs.

President Adams knew only too well that the Christian Crusades left in their wake among Muslims, a deep-seated fear of all things Christian because the Crusades were not just a distant memory in their cultural history but the stories of death and destruction were kept alive from generation to generation of Muslims. To specifically counter-act the Crusades' deadly legacy, the treaty of Tripoli was sent to the floor of the Senate on June 7, 1797, where it was read aloud in its entirety. It was unanimously approved after which President John Adams signed it and proudly proclaimed it to the Nation.

Article 11 in the Treaty of Tripoli reveals the purpose for the treaty: to state boldly an unequivocally that relations with America would not be influenced by Christian doctrine -- an important point to people of the Muslim faith. As you can read for yourself, the treaty is quite forthright in its statement of purpose:

Treaty of Tripoli, 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."

Though many on the religious right argue that the constitution was based on the Christian Bible, the treaty's wording clearly shows that the Fifth Congress understood full-well how important it was to let the world know that the American principles of government were established beyond the influence of Christianity. President John Adams and 100% of the members of the 5th Congress knew that if they didn't make that point perfectly clear to the world, America would be at a distinct diplomatic disadvantage with Muslim people and countries.

Today, just as in 1797, it is just as dangerous - - if not more dangerous - - for America to claim that our government is, in any way, beholden to Christian doctrine because such a perception can literally put US soldiers in harm's way.

If Muslim extremists sent assassins half way around the world to attempt to kill a cartoonist in Sweden for disrespecting their faith, how much more dangerous is it if they discovered a company that provides telescopic sights for US military rifles had been etching Christian Bible references on the equipment destined for Muslim countries?

Christian fundamentalists who just can't abide another religion's right to exist just don't get it: that we must sincerely respect Islam and its followers' sensibilities not just on moral grounds - - because it's the right thing; the American thing to do - - but because if continue to rub potential allies' noses in blatant displays of ethnocentrism, our hubris and arrogance WILL directly affect the safety of our troops and defeat everything we are trying to do in Islamic countries.

Those who argue for the Christian interpretation of the origins of our constitution say, "So what, if we claim the constitution is a Christian-based document?"

Well, dear reader, because freedom of religion (and the implied notion of freedom from religion) is one of the most important of our freedoms, if America had not boldly stated that the origins of our government was borne from the great thinkers who emerged during The Enlightenment, our country would not have become known as a beacon of freedom to the many non-Christian peoples of the world. It is America's very independence from Christianity that gives democracy itself its powerful legitimacy. The Treaty of Tripoli allows America to state that it is independent of religious doctrine. That treaty also allows the very idea of democracy to be perceived as an appealing form of government for any and all people of the world.

I am old enough to remember the skepticism through the country when Catholic John F. Kennedy ran for President. Protestants feared that he would be influenced by the Pope. Today, how ironic it has become to see fundamentalists -- who were among those who were concerned that Kennedy's religion would influence his ability to govern -- are the people trying their best to erase America's tradition of religious impartiality. It took western civilization more than a thousand years to extricate religion from government; and, today the religious right is attacking religious freedom for everyone but Christians.

I wonder: if they successfully reintroduce prayer into the American classroom, will they allow a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or, even a Christian follower of the Rev. Moon conduct the school prayers?

Kennedy realized how important it was that our form of government be perceived by Protestants and Catholics alike to be independent of religious influence. However, ever since Karl Rove realized how easily the religious right could be mobilized into single-issue voting blocks, America has been assaulted from all sides with the message that America is "a Christian nation."

Just like the Nazis in 1930s Germany whipped the passions of fundamentalist German Christians into a deadly blend of religious and nationalistic fervor that carried the Nazis to power; I fear that America is becoming vulnerable to the same exact combination of factors. Here's hoping the religious right is not allowed carry us backwards into a retro "age of un-enlightenment" ... one that President John Adams and the 5th Congress wouldn't recognize.


1 Comment

Dillman, this is a good example of all the evidence that our founding fathers and early leaders intentionally refused to acknowledge or declare any particular religious affilliation of our new nation.

I declare faith in Christ and I'm a member of a denomination whose membership almost unanamously demands separation of Church and State. We say 'almost' because we honor individual and local church autonomy. Therefore, I speak with authority only for myself.


Post your own comment here


Do you want to read more? You've only just scratched the surface at the Kansas Free Press. We have so much more to read! Nearly all of the pieces published here are timeless and relevant, regardless of when the articles were first published. To discover more, please take a look at our Table of Contents or go back to our Front Page.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links below (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press:



About This Page

This page contains just one story published on February 7, 2010. The one written previous to this is titled "The Bloody Hook Hanging from the Car Door Handle" and the story published right after this one is "Who Motivates and Inspires Me?"

Our most current stories are always updated on our Front Page.

Other Archives

Interested in other topics? You may wish to poke around in our Table of Contents to find other sections and archives.

Do you want to explore pieces written by specific authors? You can find archives for KFP writers by reviewing our complete Directory of Authors and Writers here.

Recently Featured Stories

My Response As a Kansan to Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti has come on board The Nation magazine to fill in for Katha Pollitt as the feminist columnist while Pollitt is on leave to write a book. I've found reading Valenti's columns thought-provoking and insightful. She often takes …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Roots of the n-word

While N-word dialogue has slackened following Saline County Commissioner Gile's use of it recently, the word still has great power. So, let's look inward at the N-word. To reach a much deeper path to understanding, simply go to Ad …
Corporate Tax Reform

Basehor, Kans.--For an interesting twist on the corporate tax debate, look at Alan Sloan's opinion in the April 29 issue of Fortune Magazine. In all of the froth about corporate taxation, neither proponents of tax reduction, nor corporate critics, …

News and Opinion





Get Connected

See our FB page!
Subscribe for free!
[Feeds & Readers...]
Follow Kansas Free Press on Twitter, too!
Make Kansas Free Press your home page!

Journalists, sign in.

We're reader supported!

Whenever you use the specific links below to begin any of your online shopping, a portion of your sale goes directly towards the support of this site.

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links above (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press.

Thank you for your help!

Notices & Policies

All of our Kansas Free Press journalists are delighted that you are here. We all hope that you come here often, sign in and leave us comments, and become an active part of our community. Welcome!

Our writers are credentialed after referral to, and approval by, the editor/publisher of KansasFreePress.com. If you are interested in writing with us, please feel free to let us know here. We are always looking for Kansans who want to write about Kansas!

All authors here retain their own copyrights for their original written works, original photographs and art works. They welcome others to copy, reference or quote from the content of their stories, provided that the reprints include obvious author and website attribution and links to the original page, in accordance with this publication's Creative Commons License.

Our editor primarily reviews stories for spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting and is not liable or responsible for the opinions expressed by individual authors. The opinions and accuracy of information in the individual stories on this site are the sole responsibility of each of the individual authors. For complete site policies, including privacy, see our Frequently Asked Questions. This site is designed, maintained, and owned by its publisher, Everyday Citizen Media. The Kansas Free Press, KansasFreePress.com, and Kansas Free Press are trademarked names.

© Copyright, 2008-2012, all rights reserved, unless otherwise specified, first by the respective author, and then by KFP's publisher and owner for any otherwise unreserved and all other content.