Dispelling the myth of U.S. as Christian nation
Too often it is said that “America was founded as a Christian nation,” usually by someone pushing for more religion in the public sphere.
But constitutional attorney Andrew L. Seidel takes that and turns it on its head in his first book, The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American.
Seidel, FFRF’s director of strategic response, has spent years compiling evidence that “powerfully shows that Christian nationalists are arguing for a vision that is at odds with the essential nature of the Constitution and American government,” renowned constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky said about the book.
“The author recounts the legal issues in a lively, lucid fashion accessible to readers unfamiliar with the fine points of either the bible or the Constitution,” writes freethinking author Susan Jacoby in the book’s foreword. “Above all, he makes the vital point that when faith is politically weaponized, religion itself ‘is weakened and tainted.’”
Seidel writes, in the Introduction:
“There are two major lies on which Christian nationalism relies. Most books focus on the first myth, that America is a Christian nation. . . . The second myth is the focus of my book because it pervades all other Christian nationalist arguments. If America is not founded on Judeo-Christian principles, it is not a Christian nation. If America is not founded on Judeo-Christian principles, Christian nationalists are wrong. And while other authors have refuted the first fiction, the second remains untouched. This book seeks to change that by comparing the principles of Judeo-Christianity and the principles that founded the United States of America. . . . The two systems differ and conflict to such a degree that, to put it bluntly, Christianity is un-American.”
“The book concludes with a look at some unavoidable American verbiage: ‘In God we trust,’ ‘One nation under God,’ and ‘God bless America.’ These are not founding principles, but simply relics of Christian nationalists’ using government offices to promote their religion during times of fear, strife and diminished civil rights.”
Others who have read the book give Seidel high marks.
Geoffrey Stone, First Amendment scholar, law professor and author: “At a time when too many religious and political figures trumpet the notion that the precepts of traditional Christianity were built into our national values, Seidel persuasively demonstrates that such an assertion is simply unfounded. This is an important insight that Americans of every political and religious stripe should understand and embrace.”
Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist: “The founders of our country weren’t believing Christians, deliberately kept God out of the Constitution, and enacted laws that explicitly defy the ‘morality’ of the bible.”
Founding Myth book tour
May 16 Madison, Wis.
May 19 Knoxville, Tenn.
May 20 Raleigh, N.C.
May 21 Charleston, S.C.
May 22 Greenville, S.C.
May 23 Atlanta
May 26 Seattle
June 11 Chicago
June 30 Orlando, Fla.
July 1 Boca Raton, Fla.
Check details at ffrf.org/outreach.