Being raised a christian in America, I have believed all my life that the Bible and its core principles were both the inspiration for and the guiding light of the founding fathers in writing the constitution and framing what would become our great nation. After becoming atheist, I began to question just how many of our revolutionary ideas about how to run a country were based on the Holy Bible. Turns out, actually none.
What set the small colony of the United States apart from so many other nations was the rejection of divine right to rule. In other words, a monarch that received his or her authority from God. Our forefathers took the responsibility and authority away from an ordained monarch and distributed it among the people. The apostle Paul specifically tells us to obey all authority because all authority comes from God. So our Nation was based more on the principles of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes than anything found in the Bible. More characteristics of the US include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and free elections to elect leaders. Biblical support? None to be found. Most of the early colonists were, in fact, fleeing the oppression of the Church of England, a hugely influential power that had no qualms about burning people alive or torturing them if they failed to adhere to their official interpretations of …..ummmm…oh, yeah! the Holy Bible.
Now a lot of right wing conservatives (said group I am actually identifying with in most political ideas) like to use the phrase “Judeo-Christian values” . They would argue that it is not so much the political or governmental mechanisms which are based on the bible that are so intrinsic to our nation and our nations success. Rather it is the core moral fiber that is derived from the scriptures that we can thank for our love of freedom and equality that make us so successful. Right. The Bible was actually used to support slavery when it was in danger of being outlawed in the original constitution and again many times over the next 100 years. The chapter immediately following the Ten commandments details how to properly keep slaves. Paul also writes about how slaves should be obedient to their masters, especially their Christian masters. As for the Ten commandments themselves, I am pretty sure George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would have worked out some kind of deterrent to American citizens killing each other eventually. With or without the Bible. After all, the Sumerians, Egyptians and Chinese had huge and tremendously successful civilizations without the benefit of stone tablets from Jehovah. And other than not killing or bearing false witness, what does the ten commandments tell us to do that makes America great? Forbid graven images. Forbid coveting our neighbors ox or wife. Keep the Sabbath holy. Nothing that anyone would claim to base nationwide ideals on. Largely useless advice and ignored by even some of the most devout Christians.
Anyway, just my 2 cents and observations. Please feel free to add or disagree. Thanks for reading!