Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

Was the United States founded as a Christian nation?

In 1796, George Washington’s treaty with Tripoli noted that the United States is not a Christian country. In fact, it was done so by declaring to the government and people of Tripoli (now Libya) that there would be no religion based war between our respective countries. Ed Buckner does a masterful job of pulling together the relevent facts about this question with thorough research and documentation, noting in a speech he gave in 1997 that the diplomat Joel Barlow, who was sent at the behest of Washington, was a close friend to Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. Buckner even points out that “Paine hurriedly entrusted the manuscript of the first part of the Age of Reason to Barlow when Paine was suddenly arrested by the radicals of the French revolution.” The famous words in the treaty were, as Buckner explains:

“‘As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion, . . .’ the Muslims of Tripoli therefore need not fear a religious war from the U.S.

The vote was recorded because at least a fifth of the Senators present voted to require a recorded vote. This was the 339th time (I went through the Journal for the first five Congressional sessions and counted them myself) that a recorded vote was required. It was only the third time that a vote was recorded when the vote was unanimous! (The next time was to honor George Washington.) There is no record of any debate or dissension on the treaty.

None other than John Adams, who followed Washington’s two terms as President had sent the treaty to the Senate in 1797 to be unanimously ratified by the Senate. Buckner reviewed periodicals from the period and could find no dissent at that time in history.

And so ends the claims of the right-wing that the United States was or is a Christian country. There are a lot of Christians here, as well as millions of atheists and dozens of other religions because of the multicultural diversity that makes America great.

3 thoughts on “Was the United States founded as a Christian nation?

  1. Doesn’t change historical facts.

  2. I meant to add, you can e-mail me at either (I give two in case one is no longer valid by the time you read this)

    ebuckner AT atheists DOT org

    ed AT buckners DOT us

  3. Thanks for the compliments. Any who want more details are welcome to e-mail me. Regards, Ed B.

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