There is a distinction between a country whose population is religious in nature, and a country governed by religion.
Iran is a religiously-governed nation. So is the Vatican (yes, it really is an independent country).
Although Israel is considered a Jewish state, it is really governed by a European parliament-based government. As is Turkey, though its citizens are predominantly Muslim, and Italy, though its predecessor state was the Holy Roman Catholic Empire and its citizens are predominantly Catholic.
It is an axiom that the more conservative one is, the more one wants his/her religion to be part of their country’s government. As a result of that desire, those folks will claim that their country is based upon, or founded in a (insert your preferred religion here) tradition.
This is certainly evident in the USA, where the vast majority of the population is Christian, with Judaism next largest religion. All other religions pale in contrast to these two insofar as percentage of population is concerned.
The citizens of the USA seem to be somewhat more involved in their religions than most other western industrialized nations. Thus, it can be accurately stated that the US population is somewhat religious. But, much to the chagrin of the religious right, that does not translate into the USA being a Christian-governed, or even a Judeo-Christian-governed nation, all claims by the far right to the contrary.
Curiously (ignorantly?), many conservatives will argue that the founding fathers were Christians who stamped their faith into and upon the US Constitution. They will also claim that some of the early leaders of the USA, such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine, all of whom were involved in authoring of the US Constitution, were Christian men who wanted Christianity imprinted in that document. But is that really true?
Let’s look at the facts.
The authors of the US Constitution were for the most part naturalists. These were educated men who did not rely upon their religion for explanations regarding the physical world around them.
Consider the following statements by Jefferson, Adams and Paine:
Thomas Jefferson wrote regarding religious freedom in the “Revised Code of the State of Virginia”, considered to be his second most important writing:
“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”
Thomas Paine, in his “Age of Reason”, wrote:
“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church.”
And finally, John Adams was a man who had strong faith and religion in his personal life, shunned religion in public life. This is clear in the “Treaty of Tripoli”, which, as US president, he signed in 1796. Chapter 11 of the treaty reads:
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; (emphasis added) as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan 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.”
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.
Now compare those statements from these educated and consummate leaders of early America to the recent statements by Sarah Palin:
“Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant — they’re quite clear — that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the ten commandments.
Click on the links in this article and/or do your own research. Then answer the following question: