American Theism and the Treaty of Tripoli

In modern American political discourse, a great many individuals have been making the claim that America was founded by Christians as a nation built upon Christian morality. Somehow, mind-bogglingly, these claims are made in spite of the existence of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

I was recently pointed to a new argument against the Christian Nation idea in the form of the Treaty of Tripoli, which contains, as Article 11, the text:

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 tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan 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.

Not that the wingnuts that would make such absurd claims would listen to reason but the Treaty of Tripoli was unanimously ratified by the US Senate and signed into law by John Adams in 1797. That the Treaty of Tripoli dates to 21 years after US independence and 9 years after the US Constitution makes it a pretty clear indicator of both national sentiment and the intent of the founding fathers, what with them still being around and all.

Maybe I should start taking a more militantly atheistic stance to my personal philosophy.

Comments

Hey George Ah that defense citing a treaty for not being a christian nation would thoroughly get you curbed stomped by anyone who knows their stuff lucky for you, those wingnuts advocate/express those positions mostly don't. Yeah I dealt with several who express it , often not worth arguing since at certain level they are correct it be like arguing Utah was not founded by Mormons and built upon Mormon morality. Though the Christian statement is not at the level of importance that those who express want to believe and for the most part have no meaning today , since America was founded more so as a plurality (a plurality of Christians at the time) and that plurality has expanded. .

First its a treaty think we can each easily name half a dozen treaties the united states signed and never follow, and some people will claim we never follow any treaty we signed, more so from that era of US History. 2nd as a treaty it was to a group that was using piracy as a weapon against people who wronged Muslims. They attacked non Muslims , specifically christens shipped and follow the koran dictated treatment of Christians when captured went into slavery. So the statement was trying to distance ourselves from being attacked for wrongs of a "christian group". Though reading the wiki seems to have some issues that particular part didn't make it into the Arabic translation.

Now to the "America was founded by Christians as a nation built upon Christian moral­ity" though the guy i deal with would often claim Judea-christian beliefs. Lets start with a slight variation of that statement America was founded byEuropeansas a nation built uponEuropeanmoral­ity, do you disagree with that statement? Assuming you don't disagree, by United states founding and immigration from Europe , Nearly all of Europe was christian with a few exceptions and much of the philosophy influenced or was influenced by Christianity or accepted into Christin philosophy. So European is nearly synonymous with christian and at least that how the Barbary pirates often saw it.

Now lets go to the founding fathers there is this John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson

"No. The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young men could unite, and these principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity, in which all those sects were united, and the general principles of English and American liberty, in which all those young men united, and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her independence. Now I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system. I could, therefore safely say, consistently with all my then and present information, that I believed they would never make discoveries in contradiction to these general principles. In favor of these general principles, in philosophy, religion, and government, I could fill sheets of quotations from Frederic of Prussia, from Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke, Rousseau, and Voltaire, as well as Newton and Locke; not to mention thousands of divines and philosophers of inferior fame."

So John Adams is against you on this one and goes to the plurality of America.

Their is a reason the Chinese don't have a term for "Human Rights". IF this country wasn't based on christian morals slavery would of probably existed everywhere in the country at the start and lasted longer than it did. Also by the same token Homosexuality, practiced more openly and legally with their be no anti sodomy laws in the past and around the country. Along with other christian "sins" would be more accepted such as Polygamy, prostitution, pedophilia which are/were popular in different cultures and time periods around the world. Now a interesting question which don't feel like researching right now would be how dose the constitution effect the states, could a state institute a state religion, my summation would be yes they can. The establishment clause is to protect the plurality and protect the state from religion as much as the religion from the state, and the corruptions inherent to the state and it's power. But the laws of country often were the common morals of the plurality , which was a primarily a christian plurality.