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Christian Propaganda

Christian Propaganda
By Gene Johns - April 5, 2022

This article is in no way a personal attack on any Christian or the Christian religion. What this article is about is how Christian apologists assert a claim that America's constitution, legal system, and laws are based on Christianity and the Holy Bible. That is simply not true. To assert the view that our constitution, legal system, and laws are based on Christianity and the Holy Bible is nothing more than propaganda. 

Propaganda is defined as information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view. Christian apologists are promoting a false declaration of fact to promote their religion and assert America is a Christian nation and that simply isn’t true.  

Why do I call promoting the idea that Christianity and the Holy Bible are the basis for our constitution, legal system, and laws propaganda? Christian apologists claim the Ten Commandments and other biblical laws were used in constructing our constitution, legal system, and laws. Asserting those erroneous claims as true is promoting biased information that misleads followers and others into a belief our nation is a Christian nation, and, in the technical sense, the United States of America is not a Christian nation.  

Let me explain why I say our nation is “technically” not a Christian nation. It is true, that an overwhelming majority of America's population are either a member of the Christian religion or claim to identify with Christianity. So, in that respect, it is understandable why many call America a Christian nation. 

However, our constitution is not a religious document, it is a “secular” document and only mentions religion once (First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof). While not specifically stated, our constitution and laws give all religions equal rights and equal access to our courts, ballot boxes, and political office. One could easily claim America is a nation of all religions and not just a Christian nation. 

My primary reason for writing this piece was not to refute the claim America is a Christian nation (although I have), but to debunk the claim by Christian apologists that America’s constitution, legal system, and laws are based on Christianity and the Holy Bible. That claim fuels the mislabeling of America as a Christian nation and tries to rewrite history to reinforce their religious beliefs.  

Historians acknowledge our Founding Fathers drew upon the ideas of many historical documents, philosophers, and the practices of previous governments to draft our constitution and establish our laws and legal system. Below are the actual major influences on our Founding Fathers in drafting our constitution, the forming of our government, our legal system, and our laws: 

In ancient times, the Sumerians, the Greeks, the Romans, and Babylonians all had governments that were heavily influenced by philosophers of their time. Political theories were debated and the conclusions from those debates developed certain principles and laws that found their way into ancient governments. In particular, the Romans created a system of elected representative government (a republic). Those governments and their laws were well before Christianity was a religion and the Holy Bible was published.  

Our Founding Fathers recognized the value of a four-volume work on English law written by jurist William Blackstone in the 18th century. His commentaries, known as Blackstone’s Commentaries (published 1765-1769), were a major influence in establishing American law. The Jack Miller Center describes Blackstone’s Commentaries as: 

“The Commentaries was the paramount authority on the common-law in the eyes of the American Founders. Its articulation of the logic of the common law was one of the reasons that they chose to establish the American legal system on its basis. Blackstone is still cited today by lawyers and judges in their efforts to articulate the meaning of American laws and the Constitution.” 

While it is true that William Blackstone believed human rights came from God, that is his opinion for there is no proof a God exists, and the Holy Bible does not offer up a guide for human rights. His common-law reasoning came from his mind, not from God.  

The idea that all people had natural rights to life, liberty, and property wasn’t a stroke of genius of our Founding Fathers. That idea or view came from John Locke, an English philosopher, and physician. He believed in the theory of government by the consent of the governed and that appealed to our Founding Fathers. Mr. Locke’s essays on religious tolerance evolved into the idea of separation of church and state. His notion of limiting the power of government was a cornerstone of reasoning in developing our constitution and laws.  

Other philosophers that greatly influenced the creation of our constitution: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (we are born free); Thomas Hobbes (the rights of individuals, the natural equality of all men, and the concept that all political power should be derived from the consent of the people.); Voltaire (he advocated freedom of speech; he was a deist and not a Christian; he was known for his assault on church authority and clerical power); the French Enlightenment thinker Charles de Montesquieu (separation of powers idea). Their ideas greatly influenced the writing of our Constitution, our judicial system, and our laws. 

The Magna Carta of 1215 was an agreement between the common people of England and their King. It established the King must abide by the laws of the land and limited the King's power. The Magna Carta ended rule by divine right. Our constitution’s first 10 amendments reflect the Magna Carta’s influence. The Eight Amend prohibits excessive bail and fines and ground rules for a speedy and fair trial are provided in amendments five through seven. The Magna Carta provided for the idea of rule by law and our Founding Fathers incorporated that in their vision for our government.  

Virginia House of Burgesses of 1619 promoted the right to representative assembly, and it was the first representative assembly in the young American colonies. Washington and Jefferson, among other American founders, were members of the Virginia House of Burgesses. They brought the idea of representative government to the Constitutional Convention.  

The Mayflower Compact of1620 advanced the idea that people have a say in government and political authority was granted by the people.  

The first written constitution was the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut in1639. That constitution was a cornerstone for developing our current Constitution. It provided a detailed plan for government and gave power to the people. 

The English Bill of Rights of 1689 protected the rights of English citizens. It established the judicial branch must be independent and elections should be held on a regular basis. It upheld the right to trial by jury and the right to bear arms. Once again, our Constitution was influenced by a secular proclamation of rights for citizens.  

The art of reason and logic from the Enlightenment period of the 17th and 18th centuries were well known by our Constitution’s framers. The belief that people could improve society by using reason came from the minds of enlightenment thinkers. Historians agree that the European Enlightenment movement provided a basis for our Constitution.  

Our Habeus Corpus law was adopted from the Habeus Corpus of 1689 which stated the idea no person should be held in prison without first being charged with a specific crime as referenced in the English Bill of Rights. 

The aforementioned is in no way a comprehensive list of the documents and philosophers that influenced the writing of the U.S. Constitution. Rather, it is meant to be a highlighting of some, a limited vision to help the reader understand that history does not exist in a vacuum. 

What should be understood is that the Constitution represented a culmination of all that came before it, and by itself represented a bold new approach to government. It was a declaration of intent, that this new country would go where none had ever gone before. It was a statement of independence and its undying legacy is built upon the principles of justice and liberty for all citizens.