Danny Cardwell's picture

    Non Biblical Origins of a Christian Nation

    Nation: A people who share the same lies about their past, hatred of their present neighbor, and illusions about the future. 

    --Ernest Renaud

    The myth that America was founded on Christian principles is so embedded in the psyche of our nation that questioning it's veracity is considered blasphemy. Many patriotic Christians point to biographies, autobiographies, and the Constitution instead of the Bible to validate this claim; what they disconnect is the fact that most Revolutionary history was written from the perspective of politicians and generals. It doesn't take a very smart person to understand that history told from the top down doesn't reflect the views of the average person. The native, the slave, the housewife, or the poor would have a different view of the same events based on their social positioning. This isn't a relativist argument. If we can't look at the past objectively, how can we look at our present condition with all of the emotions associated with our individual beliefs, critically?

    One book you rarely hear a sermon preached out of is the book of Habakkuk. Fire and brimstone pastors can find parallels between our times and a litany of Old and New Testament prophecies and genealogies, but you never hear Habakkuk 2:12-13 which reads as follows:

    12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity! 13 Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? (KJV)

    Hermeneutics aside, scriptures that call into question the moral (or immoral) origins of our nation are, as a rule, excluded from Christian discourse by many pastors. The fact that so many churches avoid the evils visited upon those on the underside of American history is telling. If my reading of the gospels is correct, no nation could be righteous if they don't care for the people Jesus taught his followers to care for. America was founded on Christian principles if you negate the way we acquired the land, and gloss over the way we treated our neighbors. What if some of our current social ills are a product of our origin story? In heaven the son doesn't suffer for the sins of his father, but we're on earth and the scars and wounds our forefathers left us have real world consequences.

    The last few weeks have been a Rorschach test for America. Person A sees the Confederate flag and it represents x while their neighbor looks at the same flag and sees y. Depending on where you live Black Lives Matter means hatred of whites, and white silence to the atrocity in South Carolina is perceived as indifference. All week long I've read articles and commentaries about scheduled flag burning events; some of these comments meet the legal threshold for premeditation. The anger in those comments is real. Sadly, the same people making these threats over the flag can't muster the same anger for the black churches that have burnt down. While some will spending their Fourth of July worrying about flag burning, I have friends (pastors and deacons) who will spend the next few nights sleeping in the sanctuaries of their churches.

    Renaud was more right than wrong in his definition of a nation. How can we understand a past we have limited access to if we're to fragmented to understand our current situation?


    I always take time to reflect on Frederick Douglass' "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" It serves as a reminder of our true history. Interestingly, one draft of the Declaration of Independence included the following commentary on the King of England.

    He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither … And he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

    Jefferson criticized the King for supporting slavery. He next criticizes the King for trying to convince black slaves to fight for Britain against the colonists. The King offered freedom as a reward. Thousands of blacks took the King's offer and side with the British.  Three thousand blacks were documented as under British protection when they were evacuated from the former colony after the war had been lost. The British supporters are documented in "The Book of Negroes". Washington and the US Congress wanted "their" slaves back, but the British honored their promise of protection.The mention of slavery was left out of the final version of the Declaration of Independence. Note that there is documentation of blacks fighting for British, something sorely lacking in trying to document that blacks fought freely and without intimidation for the Confederacy.

    The Fourth of July 2015 comes on the heels of the massacre of nine black Christians in the resurrected church of Denmark Vesey, who planned a slave revolt. The original church was burned to the ground. black churches have been targets of terrorists for centuries. Recent fires at black churches have raised concerns that black churches are targets again. When a black church in Greeleyville, SC destroyed by arson committed by white supremacists in 1995 burned to the ground, there was reasonable concern about another race-based attack. Lightning appears to be the cause Other church fires  are under investigation.

    In the aftermath, there has been a debate about the Confederate flag. The KKK is planning a protest to honor the Confederate rag on July 18th. The actions of the Klan are not shocking. It is amazing that a racist can rise to the number two position in polling for ranking of President candidates. We still have a long way to go.

    Thanks for an excellent post that gave time to reflect.


    I saw that paragraph, left out of the Declaration of Independence.

    Why do Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson seem more and more like narcissistic self absorbed American hypocrites? Of which we are so replete today?

    The paragraph in effect: "No complaints about slavery until Britain armed them to fight us property owners."

    And the Boston Tea party? If you research it, it was about England REMOVING taxes due a glut of tea in England, which they needed to sell by removing high taxes, good for the consumer, bad for Boston tea bootleggers who got untaxed illegal tea from Dutch merchants.

    I will have to more reading about the Boston Tea Party.

    Doing genealogy studies will become slightly easier for black families as the record of four million former slaves obtained by the Freedman's Bureau after the Civil War will be digitized and available online. A barrier to tracing family roots has been lowered.


    Thanks for the link. My wife's family have close to 300 years worth of family lineage starting with a bill of sale record from Jamestown. Sadly, my family tree doesn't have roots that we've been able to keep up with past 150 years. I appreciate the time and effort you put into commenting. Salute!

    Hope you enjoyed the Fourth

    I also hope the new data provides some aid in tracing your roots.

    The intentions of the Founders has been much debated here. I submit that a rational discussion of the matter is not possible without accepting that the separation between church and state was based upon a general acceptance at the time that combining the two institutions created an oxymoron with overwhelming power over the individual.
    Is the elevation of that criteria regarding the power over an individual "Christian" pe se? Maybe, maybe not. Acres of books have been planted in the soil of that question. Fortunately for all of us, the rights developed through that criteria have not been dependent upon answering it.
    And that independence is what I celebrate, knowing full well the hypocrisy and oppression that marched in the name of freedom alongside of it during the Revolution.

    Was the United States founded on Christian principles? I thought most of the Founding Fathers were secular humanist types.

    Jefferson, Madison, and Washington may have been hypocrites, but I wonder if they might deserve some credit for opposing slavery in theory.

    Jefferson, Madison, and Washington may have been hypocrites, but I wonder if they might deserve some credit for opposing slavery in theory.

    Answer: No.

    George Washington and the colonists keep blacks who fought with them bound in slavery. The British at least kept a small portion of their promise of freedom for the slaves despite losing the war. Thomas Jefferson argued that slaves taken by the British should be considered as payment for part of the debt owe the British.

    George Washington worked out a scheme that allowed him to keep his slaves in bondage by getting around early abolition attempts in Pennsylvania. He also made great efforts to retrieve Ona Judge, a slave who escaped while the Washingtons were in Philadelphia.

    Edit to add:

    Thomas Jefferson had a slave mistress. He could be extremely cruel to his slaves. He relished selling slaves away from their families to exact punishment. We need to dea with the truth of the history of our country.

    It appears that Abraham Lincoln held Thomas Jefferson's moral character in very low regard.


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