Viewing the U.S. as a pluralistic nation with freedom of
An essay donated by Jason Miller
Jason Miller is a 39 year old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts.
When he is not spending time with his wife and three sons, researching, or
writing, he is working as a loan counselor. He is a member of Amnesty
International and an avid supporter of Oxfam International and
Human Rights Watch. He welcomes responses at
comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at
How about calling us a pluralistic nation with freedom of religion?
The notion that the United States is a Christian nation is false on numerous
levels. Certainly we are heavily influenced Christianity, but to say we are a
Christian nation flies in the face of the raison de’ être
Consider the following:
1. According to the 1990 US Census, 91.6% of Americans were Christians. By
2000, the percentage had decreased to 85%. We 42
million “heathens” represent a pretty significant portion of the population.
2. Many of the Western Europeans who settled the original thirteen colonies
fled their nations of origin to evade religious persecution and state-imposed
3. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, two of our most prominent Founding
Fathers, were Deists. Washington and Jefferson were not
particularly religious but tended more toward Deism than Christianity.
4. Thomas Paine, whose writings were a powerful catalyst for the American
Revolution, vehemently attacked Christianity in one of his polemical works and
refused to embrace Christianity, even on his death-bed.
5. God is not mentioned in our Constitution. The Declaration of
Independence simply mentions "Nature's God" and a "Creator", neither of
which specifically imply a Christian god.
6. Per the Treaty of Tripoli, endorsed by President John Adams and ratified
unanimously by the US Senate in 1797: "As the Government of the United States
is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion..."
7. If Christians lay claim to the United States as their nation, that means
they bear the sole responsibility for the evils of slavery, the virtual
annihilation of the Native Americans, and the many acts of state terror
perpetrated by the US military and CIA over the years.
8. In 1864, the equivalent of today's Religious Right cowed Congress into
passing legislation mandating that the US begin stamping "In
God We Trust" on several of our coins. Besides caving to the powerful
influence of Christian fundamentalists, our federal government also recognized
the psychological boost the power of Christian symbolism would give them after
the blow to their authority rendered by the Civil War.
9. McCarthy-inspired anti-Communist hysteria motivated Eisenhower to sign
Public Law 140 in 1956. Going forward, all US coins and paper money bore the
propagandistic slogan "In God We Trust" to reassure Americans that we
were better than the godless Communists. The same year, the words "under
God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. It took 180 years for this
Christian nation to fully embrace its identity. Or perhaps it simply took our
plutocratic rulers that long to recognize the power of spiritual
coercion….As an aside, the original motto on the United States was E Pluribus
Unum (Latin for "Out of many, one"), which obviously encourages more
unity and cohesion than an exclusionary national motto dedicated to a god
worshipped by one segment of the population.
Originally posted: 2006-MAR-08
Latest update: 2006-MAR-08
Author: Jason Miller