The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American

Andrew L. Seidel, L.L.M.

I want to discuss two things: One, the idea that we’re founded as a Christian nation. When you hear that argument, you may debunk it using, say, the Treaty of Tripoli, which says we’re not founded in any sense on the Christian religion. Or maybe you cite the First Amendment or the fact that religious oaths are constitutionally prohibited or that the Constitution is entirely godless.

When you use those facts to refute their first argument, your opponent will fall back on the second argument, which is that we’re founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Typically, you’ll hear these arguments: “In God We Trust” or “One nation under God,” or quotes from the Declaration of Independence.

You obviously know that “In God We Trust” and “One nation under God” are not from the founding era. The former was required on currency only in 1956 and the latter was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. When discussing the Declaration of Independence, the Religious Right typically focuses on four phrases from it: “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” “their Creator,” “the Supreme Judge of the world” and “Divine Providence.” Notice that not a single one of these is Christian. There’s no mention of Jesus or Yahweh or the God of Abraham.

Andrew Seidel

Andrew is a constitutional attorney, the Director of Strategic Response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and an author. Andrew graduated cum laude from Tulane University (’04) with a B.S. in neuroscience and environmental science and magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School (’09), where he was awarded the Haber J. McCarthy Award for excellence in environmental law. He studied human rights and international law at the University of Amsterdam and traveled the world on Semester at Sea. Andrew completed his Master of Laws at Denver University Sturm College of Law with a perfect GPA (’11) and was awarded the Outstanding L.L.M. Award.

His first book is The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American. Renowned constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky has described it as “a beautifully written book” that “explodes a frequently expressed myth: that the United States was created as a Christian nation.” Publisher’s Weekly said that Andrew “provides a fervent takedown of Christian Nationalism in his furious debut. … his well-conceived arguments will spark conversations for those willing to listen.” Susan Jacoby (Freethinkers; The Age of American Unreason; and The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought) wrote the foreword and Dan Barker penned a preface. When not fighting for the First Amendment, Andrew writes for ThinkProgress, Religion News Service, Rewire News and elsewhere. Andrew joined FFRF as a constitutional consultant on Halloween, 2011.

Published by Jim Lyttle

Chair, Planning Committee | Communications Officer, Minnesota Mensa | Duluth Charter Commission | Treasurer, Clan Little Society | Heather's Dad

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