There is no country in which the people are so religious as in the United States; to the eyes of a foreigner they even appear to be too much so. The great number of religious societies existing in the United States is truly surprising: there are some of them for everything; for instance, societies to distribute the Bible; to distribute tracts; to encourage religious journals; to convert, civilize, educate the savages; to marry the preachers; to take care of their widows and orphans; to preach, extend, purify, preserve, reform the faith; to build chapels, endow congregations, support seminaries; catechize and convert sailors, Negroes, and loose women; to secure the observance of Sunday and prevent blasphemy by prosecuting the violators; to establish Sunday schools where young ladies teach reading and the catechism to little rogues, male and female; to prevent drunkenness, &c. Despite his dislike for religion, Murat nonetheless concluded that:
While a death-struggle is waging in Europe it is curious to observe the tranquility which prevails in the United States. Harriet Martineau of England traversed America from 1834 to 1836 before publishing her findings in 1837 in Society in America. Like Murat, she, too, was extremely harsh in her views toward Christianity, declaring: There is no evading the conviction that it Christianity is to a vast extent a monstrous superstition that is thus embraced by the tyrant, the profligate immoral, the weakling, the bigot obstinate, unreasonable, the coward, and the slave. Yet despite her own personal hostility toward Christianity, she concluded: The institutions of America are, as I have said, planted down deep into Christianity.
Its spirit must make an effectual pilgrimage through a society of which it may be called a native; and no mistrust of its influences can forever intercept that spirit in its mission of denouncing anomalies, exposing hypocrisy, rebuking faithlessness, raising and communing with the outcast, and driving out sordidness vileness from the circuit of this, the most glorious temple of society that has ever yet been reared.
The selections in this chapter, taken from both government documents and private writings, from both proponents and opponents of Christianity, all proclaim the same truth. Despite the immense quantity of citations presented here, they still represent only a minuscule portion of that which could be invoked. It was due to the massive amount of available documentation that the 1892 Supreme Court did not hesitate to declare: This is a religious people.
This is historically true. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation. No other conclusion is possible after an honest examination of America’s history. Nonetheless, revisionist historians and many contemporary courts have been effective in portraying a different view of American history. They overtly claim that both our heritage and the religious beliefs of our Founding Fathers mandate a religion-free public arena; that claim is clearly refuted by the facts.