I’ll not wander too far into this territory, since this topic invokes both religion and politics. More than once in the past couple of months, I’ve heard claims from members of the religious right that the United States or its laws were based on Christianity. I’ve also both read and for some time believed that many of those who laid the foundation of the US Government were more deistic in their beliefs. This is certainly supported if one reads the constitution, which makes no mention of a deity. In fact, the only major point where religion is discussed is in Article VI, Section 3, which states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”All of this aside, I’d not seen any specific statement that the US Government isn’t based on Christianity, until now. If one looks at “Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796 (3 Ramada I, A. H. 1211), and at Algiers January 3, 1797 (4 Rajab, A. H. 1211)” (yeah, awkward title), the 11th article states:
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 Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States have 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.
I think that’s fairly clear, having been signed by George Washington President John Adams (sorry about the error).Now, this certainly says nothing about the current state of affairs, and whether there is separation between church and state. That said, I think this might do a fair job of settling this one debate.This thought, in part, sparked by the following MetaFilter post.