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“What of America’s Christian Roots?”

“What of America’s Christian Roots?”

From what I can tell, the founding fathers were about as Christian as other Americans. Which means, some were plenty Christian and some were pretty open-minded, or minimalist, like me. I think this excerpt from The Week, June 10, 2005 explains our Christian Heritage fairly well:

The faith that many of the Founders embraced was deism. Less a religion than a way of perceiving divinity in the world, deism is rooted in the 17th- and 18th-century scientific and philosophical revolutions of the Enlightenment. For deists, God is not a father figure who dwells in heaven and performs miracles. Rather, he is an undefined and unknowable “prime mover” who reveals himself in immutable laws that can rationally explain both cosmic and human affairs. Everything from the physical forces that govern the universe to the essential freedom of man, deists believe, are outward signs of God’s presence among us. In keeping with their deist beliefs, the Founders often refrained from calling the source of their inspiration “God.” He–or, rather, it–was “Divine Providence” and “The Universal Sovereign,” among other euphemisms.

Which, honestly, sounds awfully close to Secular Humanism or Unitarian Universalism. Even an Atheist like me can get away with referring to Divine Providence, though I prefer the more succinct “Fate.” Sometimes when another may say “God willing,” I will say “Fate Willing,” or even “Heck Willing.”

America is a Christian country. It is full of Christians from many sects, along with people from other religions. We came here to escape religious persecution, and our government should conduct itself in a neutral manner towards religion. I don’t object if that means funding Christian schools, if equally good alternatives are available for non-Christians. Though, honestly, I think it is more patriotic to attend secular schools, where all Americans from different backgrounds can mix together in a secular context.

More than other countries, our people are very religious. Even I attend an Atheist-friendly church. Americans are interested and impassioned about their religion. And you can bring your morality to government, sure. Let us strive collectively to feed the hungry, defend the meek, and respect the inherent divinity of all of us. Let us strive to respect our differences: You have your religion, I have mine, You have your idea of family, I have mine, You have your way of venerating the Almighty, and I have mine.

Where we can find collective agreement on basic stuff, let us work together, and where there is no consensus, let us err on the side of allowing people to make their own moral choices. Unless it can be demonstrated that there is harm being done, we need to allow a diversity of marriage and family structures, we need to allow pregnant women the option of the hard choice as to whether they are ready to give birth to a child, or not, and we need to allow people to express and experience their religious faith, and not suffer undue hardship as a result.

This is the Christian America I believe in.

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Categories: About Me, Excerpts, Religion