American Thinker has a nice post entitled Judeo-Christian Values, in which they examine America’s Founding Fathers’ view of religion and state, and they make some nice distinctions – not ones that would make secularists happy, but ones that make sense in light of the actual history, writings, and actions of the founders, and in light of scripture’s view of separation of church and state.
1. The American system of government was set up with Judeo-Christian PRINCIPLE, but without inculcating religion.
The principles of American Judeo-Christian Values can rightly be summarized as the honoring of God-given Life, Liberty and Creativity. This seed of American social justice was then fleshed out in the U.S. Constitution through reason and common sense, unencumbered by the dysfunctional religious and secular traditions, and laws of Old Europe….
The combination of keeping Judeo-Christian religious morality in the state, as opposed to the church it’s self; and, additionally, setting up our laws based on reason and common sense has contributed to the American Character, and to what is known as “American Exceptionalism.”
2. Declaring that our rights come from God, and NOT from the government was done to preclude tyranny.
Our Founding Fathers separated church from state, but they wisely did not separate God from state; they acknowledged God as the source of our rights, and, in fact, they were careful to place Biblical morality directly into our founding documents and laws, and into our values and culture precisely to help prevent a future of totalitarian or tyrannical rule in America.
Note that the Founders wanted to make sure that our rights were considered to have been inalienable because they came from God, and not from human government – but also, not from Church government either – that is, NO government, church or state, has the right to usurp our rights.
3. Equality before God and personal liberty, not government-enforced economic equality that curtails liberty.
In Judeo-Christian America one finds the idea of equality before God and the law, but not government forced economic equality. Modern European culture has stressed the value of economic equality rather than Liberty, and their governments unjustly enforce the principle. This has led to the failed European inventions of Socialism and Communism. Socialists in America have been lured into this failed European idea of social justice.
4. European Christianity had an incestuous relationship with government causing tyranny; America’s founders amended that problem.
European cultures have frequently been tied to authoritarian and totalitarian systems dating back to the Roman Empire. Even European Christianity was, for a time, contaminated by its links to authoritarian rule. American Judeo-Christian Culture, on the other hand, has been linked to honoring Life, Liberty and Creativity from the outset; deriving its wisdom from the lights of reason, common sense, and both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament Christian Bible.
5. Putting the Judeo-Christian God into the founding documents and principles of our nation was done to PREVENT tyranny, not establish religious rule.
It is important that American Liberty has something to do with God; that is something for students to know and discuss, even if they are not particularly religious.
This does not represent some form of tyranny of the religious majority or an injustice; it was in fact the wisdom of our Founding Fathers to stand in opposition to tyranny and injustice by acknowledging the source of our rights — those rights originating from God rather than from King George III, or for that matter from the Soviet or Chinese Politburo, or a courthouse, or a legislature. It should be self-evident that if our sacred human rights are derived from government, they can also be removed by government.
6. We can be a melting pot of cultures and religions, but we can not abandon the American implementation of Judeo-Christian ideas and values without losing the liberty they afford.
America is a melting pot of diverse people including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Atheists; and from the Judeo-Christian perspective: all made in God’s image. We have in America a multiethnic society, and that is good. What is unhealthy for America is for it to become Balkanized, which is very likely to happen with the atrophy of Judeo-Christian American Culture and Values.
Worse yet would be for America to adopt the toxic values which exist in some parts of the world and which are endemic in some foreign cultures. The values of Fascism, Nazism, Communism or Totalitarian Islamic Sharia Law for example must never metastasize in our American Culture, which traditionally has been Judeo-Christian. These values have been with us from the beginning and they have made us strong and successful. These Judeo- Christian Values should be kept central to the American spirit and culture even as we have become more multi-ethnic. Honoring foreign cultures is desirable, but we should never tolerate the values of violence, coercion, totalitarianism, supremacism, bigotry or intolerance; values which are sadly endemic in some foreign cultures.
We must recognize that our culture, too, is worth preserving.