When we examine the Christian heritage of America, there are any number of points in history we could examine. Though the Christian character of the American people is waning in this age of secularization, we have been a predominately Christian culture since the very beginning.
There is a wealth of information available to illustrate the Christian character of the Founders of the United States, and we see much of it quoted in Christian patriotic circles (including this site). But what about all the way back, to the beginning of the Colonial period?
Here are some excerpts from the Virginia Charter of 1606:
James, by the grace of God [King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith], etc...Wee, greately commending and graciously accepting of theire desires to the furtherance of soe noble a worke which may, by the providence of Almightie God, hereafter tende to the glorie of His Divine Majestie in propagating of Christian religion...
So we see that one of the purposes of the Virginia Charter and the Jamestown Colony was the propagation of the Christian religion.
When the Plymouth Colony was established in 1620, drew up their first governing document, the famous Mayflower Compact. What does this document say about the religion, character and purpose of these settlers:
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620.
What were the first two reasons given for the establishment of the Plymouth Colony? The glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.
The Charter of Pennsylvania was granted by
CHARLES the Second, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith...
One of the reasons specified in the charter was to bring to the Natives of America "Love of Civil Societie and Christian Religion."
One of the reasons cited for the Charter of Carolina was "pious zeal for the propagation of the Christian faith." The charter also makes other references to God.
The Charter of Connecticut mentions the purpose to "invite the Natives of the Country to the Knowledge and Obedience of the only true GOD, and He Saviour of Mankind, and the Christian Faith..."
The Charter of Maryland was given to Lord Baltimore for his "pious Zeal for extending the Christian Religion." The charter, like other charters, makes several references to the authority and providence of God.
The Charter of Massachusetts Bay mentions reliance upon God in carrying out the charter, with a purpose to introduce the Natives "to the KnowIedg and Obedience of the onlie true God and Saulor of Mankinde, and the Christian Fayth."
The Charter of New England in 1620 was granted "in Hope thereby to advance the in Largement of Christian Religion, to the Glory of God Almighty." It also contains many other references to the Christian faith and God's providence.
The Charter of Rhode Island mentions the providence and blessings of God, and the free exercise of "the true Christian ffaith and worshipp of God" and to "invite the native Indians of the countrie to the knowledge and obedience of the onlie true God, and Saviour of mankinde."
The Charter of Georgia guarantees "liberty of conscience allowed in the worship of God" and "free exercise of their religion." Some of the early settlers in Georgia said their purpose in coming was "not to gain riches and honor, but singly this,—to live wholly to the glory of God” and “to make Georgia a religious colony, having no theory but devotion, no ambition but to quicken the sentiment of piety.”
The 1701 Charter of Delaware listed religious freedom prominently:
Because no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship: And Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I do hereby grant and declare, That no Person or Persons, inhabiting In this Province or Territories, who shall confess and acknowledge One almighty God, the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the World; and professes him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the Civil Government, shall be in any Case molested or prejudiced, in his or their Person or Estate, because of his or their conscientious Persuasion or Practice, nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious Worship, Place or Ministry, contrary to his or their Mind, or to do or suffer any other Act or Thing, contrary to their religious Persuasion.
These are the most prominent references to God and Christianity in the original colonial charters, but you will find references to God in all of the founding colonial documents.
It boggles the mind that someone could be aware of the Christian faith and character of the colonial settlers and manage to insist that America's origins are not Christian.