Complete misunderstanding of the history of our country often leads to misunderstanding of contemporary situations.
First of all, our government is the government of the whole country, and not just the coterie that happens to be dwelling in the capitol at the time. What that means is that from time to time political parties come to power that do not represent the “Other side’s” views so there is a change of direction for a time.
This has gone on since the beginning of the Republic and we pray that it will continue.
There was never a time when “Consensus” ruled in our land. What we had was compromise over transient conditions until such time as the “other party” either won or lost, depending on which side you stood. Then other policies would be pursued for the time that they occupied the “Beltway Bubble.”
The precedents for establishing our country were just being set between the first election and the second generation of Americans. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison all being the leadership in the American Revolution, their motivational effort was representing the foundational beliefs to maintain a free and independent nation, as much from England, as from “entering into entangling alliances with foreign states” as Washington cautioned in his final address to the nation.
During Adam’s presidency, our fledgling nation was close to being embroiled in the residuals of the French Revolution, which was the predecessor to the Napoleonic Wars.
Engorged with a sense of evangelical urgency, French Revolutionaries attempted to spread their version of freedom across Europe, killing anyone who stood against them. France was a nation second only to England in strength, and the US did not need to get involved in a continental war which had no value for us, and which would have undercut our development to the point of possible destruction.
So, Adams wisely (he was a wise man, as his writings in the Federalist Papers assures) concluded a treaty with the French that kept us out of their affairs.
Amongst those French agreements was the temporary “Barbary Pirate solution.” The French were claiming authority in that part of the Mediterranean, and they had concluded a treaty with the Bey/Beis of Tripoli to pay tribute in return for their not attacking ships in transit. Moslem piracy has a long and rich tradition, not being limited to the 20th or 21st century.
The conclusion of the treaty is written into the Congressional record of 1797, with the link below.
Modern Americans may take exception to the article 11, page 3095 which contains this phrase:
Art 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquillity (sic) of Mussulmen; and, as said states never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan (sic) nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext, arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
Expounding on the background of the treaty was necessary in order to set the stage for the wording. It must be noted that Adams had served as a co-envoy to France with Jefferson during the revolution in America, and although he did not speak French, he did understand the workings of the minds of men. He was an educated as well as brilliant man.
Asserting that the US was not “Founded on Christian religion” was a necessary part of the wording because the Mussulmen – as they were called then – were of the opinion that they were still in warfare against the Christian Crusaders, and would tie any treaty they signed with a Dar al Harb nation (non-Islamic) as a religious one.
The Treaty with the Sulimen of Tripoli was making sure that the essence for the treaty was not about religion, but about peaceful relations.
About the United States not being founded on Christian Religion: that too is true. The US was founded on the principal that all men are endowed by their creator to the rights of Life Liberty and pursuit of happiness. Such rights come as based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, who was Jewish. Such rights are found in no other religion on the face of the earth.
The whole of the “Separatist Movement” in England sprang from the desire to be free from any “State Sponsored” religion, not Anglican, not Islam, not Buddhism, not Shinto or anything in between.
So yes, we are founded on Christian Principles, but not on the Christian Religion. That is a true statement.
But before anybody gets lathered up (not you Dave – who brought this to my attention) and claims whether Obama spoke the truth when he said the “US is not a Christian Nation” or he was lying, let’s make sure that we don’t get distracted by ignorance of historical precedence. Obama chose to remove his statement from the original context, probably because of his total ignorance of US history, not to mention the cradle of Islam in which he was raised.
John Adams, the second person to occupy the office of the President and a strong Puritan, balked at the idea of making Christianity the “religion of the United States.”
Today, we have made a practice of allowing anybody to believe whatsoever he or she wishes, but Adams was adamant about what kept us solid.
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
Separation of Church and State was the intent, not removing religion from our country. There is a huge difference.
As we move ahead to whatever motivates us in the coming year, we should take into our heads that chaos and anarchy are the result of a revolution led by emotion. The French Revolution comes to mind.
Immediate and long lasting effective change can only be brought about by thoughtful planning with the almighty God as our counselor.
Any other course will lead us deeper into chaos and disorder.
Terms of the Treaty of 1796: (http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llac2&fileName=009/...)