The "Christian Nation" myth is one that I haven't covered very often on my blog, though I have written about it a few times in the past and have also given it fairly extensive treatment in my refutation of David Aikman's book The Delusion of Disbelief. However, many of the facts can be hard to find throughout these many posts and long reviews so I decided to create a series of posts bringing together all the facts which debunk this lie of a christian nation.
With many christian apologist websites claiming the opposite, it can often be hard for the average person surfing the internet to figure out what to believe. From big time frauds and hucksters like David Barton to lesser known individuals, many christians are knowingly and unknowingly spreading this revisionist history (some even claim that those trying to correct these distortions are the revisionists!!!). It's time to sort out fact from fiction.
Having lost the legal battles to get Creationism/Intelligent Design into schools, many Christian apologists have begun to use a new tactic, and that is trying to distort history and claim this is a “Christian Nation”, or a country founded upon Christian principles and founded by Christians. Many of these apologists are commonly called historical revisionists. Two examples of this breed of apologist are David Barton, author of Original Intent,  and Stephen K. McDowell, author of America's Providential History, co-authored by Mark A. Beliles.
If pseudo-historians can fool enough people about this country being founded upon Christian principles and by Christians than perhaps they will allow religion taught in schools (ie. Creationism/Intelligent Design).The sad part is that many judges have even fallen for this ploy and they are the ones who are supposed to uphold the constitution!
For example, in 1985 Justice William H. Rehnquist said:
"The wall of separation between church and state is a metaphor based on bad history; a metaphor that has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should frankly and explicitly abandoned." 
Two of the most common claims spread is that this was a country founded upon “Christian principles” and the other, that this country was founded by Christians. Both of these are false.
In this first part I will tackle the claim that this country was founded upon “Christian principles.” 
When defenders of the faith are trying to convince people of their claims they often say that the United States was originally founded by pious Christians and was meant to be a “city upon a hill.” It is true that the original settlers did intend this land to be a “Christian” nation, a nation full of hope and new beginnings, but something that many seem to overlook is the fact that the actual United States was not founded with the Mayflower Compact as some historical revisionists would have it. They do this because the Mayflower Compact used much religious language, which the revisionists try to fool those less knowledgeable of history into thinking that the country was founded with christianity in mind with the Mayflower Compact.  In truth, the United States was actually founded over 150 years later, in 1787, while the Mayflower was signed in 1620.
This is important because the Constitution includes no religious wording other than "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office..." and that "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." The United States of America and the colonies that were set up in present day Massachusetts and other places are two separate entities.
Failing with that argument, many revisionists claim that the Bible had much influence over the Founding Fathers and greatly inspired them, leading them to the conclusion that this was founded upon “Christian” principles. Once again, the facts cast serious doubt upon this claim as well, though they often use deception to fool people into believing this was the case.
One such example is David Aikman who, in his book The Delusion of Disbelief, wrote that “It is hard to ignore the evidence that the Jewish and Christian Bible provided the clearest sources of inspiration to [the Founders]. Scholars have looked at what the original source material was of the quotations in the Founder's writings, and they have discovered that by far the largest percentage came from the Bible: 34 percent. The next largest source, 22 percent, were the Enlightenment authors...” 
Mr. Aikman does not cite which “scholars” came to that conclusion, so I'm unsure of his exact source, however, I happened to come across a chart in a book by Donald S. Lutz titled The Origins of American Constitutionalism and on page 141 is likely the chart that Aikman referenced. 
On page 140 of The Origins of American Constitutionalism Lutz explains these percentages:
"If we ask which book was most frequently cited in that literature [the public political literature], the answer is, the Bible. Table 1 shows that the biblical tradition accounted for roughly one-third of the citations in the sample. However, the sample includes about one-third of all significant secular publications, but only about one-tenth of the reprinted sermons. Even with this undercount, Saint Paul is cited about as frequently as Montesquieu and Blackstone, the two most-cited secular authors, and Deuteronomy is cited about twice as often as all of Locke's writings put together. A strictly proportional sample with respect to secular and religious sources would have resulted in an abundance of religious references.
About three-fourths of all references to the Bible came from reprinted sermons. The other citations to the Bible came from secular works and, if taken alone, would represent 9 percent of all citations - about equal to the percentage for classical writers. Although the citations came from virtually every part of the bible, Saint Paul was the favorite in the New Testament, especially parts of the Epistle to the Romans in which he discusses the basis for and limits on obedience to political authorities."
So, the three-quarters of that 34% total came from a sub-category of one of the categories of the documents in the study. This would cause the bible (as Lutz explains above) to be knocked down to about nine percent, more in agreement with another historian in Frank Lambert, who says that “almost 90 percent of the references are to European writers who wrote on Enlightenment or Whig themes or who commented on the English common law. Only about 10 percent of the citations were biblical, with most of those coming from writings attributed to Saint Paul." 
In the second part I will tackle the beliefs of the Founding Fathers and expose the claim that they were all pious Christians.
1. Wikipedia.org - David Barton; accessed 10-9-09
2. Wallace v. Jaffree, 105 U.S. 2479 (1985); accessed 10-9-09
3. One historical revisionist making this claim can be found at Examiner.com:
America: Was it founded on Christian beliefs and principals? (Part one)
4. http://arizonaatheist.blogspot.com/2009/05/delusion-of-david-aikman-revised-at_16.html; accessed 10-9-09
5. The Delusion of Disbelief: Why the New Atheism Is a Threat to Your Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, by David Aikman, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008; 156
6. Because Aikman did not cite his source for this information I must assume that he either read Lutz's study and didn't not look deep enough into what Lutz said on the issue or he read another historical revisionists' work and simply trusted that the information was accurate.
7. The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America, by Frank Lambert, Princeton University Press, 2003; 246