America’s founding fathers were game changers, pioneers, and geniuses. And we all know that. But, sometimes in someways we don’t always realize how true that is. Not many nations had EVER offered full religious tolerance. Most previous civilizations had connected church and state. Don’t get me wrong, religion surrounds Americans everywhere now. You can’t walk three blocks without seeing a person wearing a noticeably religious article of clothing (i.e. a cross necklace or a turban). I was forced to say “one nation under God” every school day morning for nine whole years, IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL. But, America’s founding fathers were way ahead of the game when it came to religious tolerance. The nation these founding fathers formed was one of the first countries to offer complete religious tolerance. What’s even more interesting is that most of our founding fathers were indeed religious. Actually most of our founding fathers were Calvinists. In fact according to John Eidsmoe, in his book, Christianity and the Constitution, 93% of our founding fathers were Christian, and 70% were Calvinists (a form of Christianity). Religion was a huge reason for unity within the United States. Without it America may not have been able to come together as easily as they did. With factors such as these, one might believe that our founding fathers would at least mention Christianity. By the time they started writing the document, they had complete control over what went into the document, and decided it was best to separate church and state, and not connect a Christian church to their new country. Obviously if they had made some absurd rule concerning religion, the population wouldn’t allow it, but nonetheless the delegates had almost complete control.
Not one reference to Christianity was used in the Constitution. More significantly, the first amendment forbid any establishment of a state church. The first amendment states “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.” This is truly a nation created for everyone, despite all of the lack of religious tolerance that still exists today. Whether the founding fathers fully accepted all religions themselves or not, the document they wrote 100s of years ago still lives on today and provides everyone in our country the right to freedom of religion.
On a quick side note I think it is interesting how religion can still play a role in politics even today, despite the founding fathers obvious shunning of this. Possibly the most prominent political debates that religion plays a role in, is gay marriage laws or abortion policies. I think it would make sense, if we are following our Constitution, to allow gay people to have full marriage rights, and allow woman to have full decision to abort their child or not. Admittedly, I know very little on either situation, but it seems that situations like these, that deal with the law, should not be affected by what rules of a religion say, but rather what the constitution states.
Information: http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2007/02/the-us-founding-fathers-their-religious-beliefs/, http://www.str.org/articles/the-faith-of-our-fathers, http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment