Once again, we hear the old chestnut that the United States was founded on “Christian values” or “Christian faith/principles” (Davis Enterprise, July 3, What do you think? feature).
The repeaters of this bit of revisionist myth never tell us just what those values or principles are. Maybe because there are none. As historians repeatedly remind us, the founders were by and large Enlightenment thinkers, i.e., they held a core belief that human reason is adequate to govern the affairs of the nation.
Their foundational text was not the Bible, but the writings of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes.
Here is what John Adams wrote in 1787-88 in his “Defense of the Constitutions of the United States of America”: ”The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition … (i)t will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
Ten years later, in the Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by the Senate, Article 11 reads in part: “… the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”
Not that these and other documents will be accepted by those who wish to believe the hardy myths of “Christian principles” and “a Christian nation.” You just have to ask what the motivation is for believing such misinformation.