Christian Nation? The United States in Popular Perception and Historical Reality

By T. Adams Upchurch | Go to book overview

Conclusion
A Novus Ordo Seclorum?

Although a long-drawn-out conclusion that reiterates the main points of this book might be justified, it would also be unnecessary. By this point the thesis of this study should be evident: The United States was not founded as a Christian nation in the legal sense, but it certainly was founded by professing Christians, albeit mostly liberal, enlightened, tolerant, forward-thinking Christians—not fundamentalists. They confidently held the assumption that belief in the mono-God of Western civilization was ubiquitous among the American people and would remain so in perpetuity. Hence, they could proclaim with no fear the belief in Annuit Coeptis—that this God of theirs (whoever or whatever he, she, they, or it may be) had smiled on their attempt to start a new nation with the most user-friendly government in the history of the world. They never expected a future generation to come along and proclaim the death of God or renounce all articles of faith. The nation was founded with references to God in its Declaration, it concluded its war of independence with a treaty written “In the name of the most Holy and undivided Trinity,” and the only change the Founders anticipated was that voiced by Jefferson and reiterated by Calhoun—that America would ultimately reject Trinitarianism in light of Unitarianism.

In keeping with the American way of E Pluribus Unum, the Founders expected this new form of Christianity to be inclusive, not exclusive, in terms of social classes, education level, white ethnic background, and, in the case of Jefferson at least, perhaps race and skin color someday. It was a classic “big tent” vision of the future. To them it would be basically a religious manifestation of

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