Religion and the Foundation of America

If a person asks an American third grade student what he or she knows about why the United States was founded, one of the first things that will be heard is that settlers came to escape the religious persecution of European nations.
This is true, of course – the Mayflower Compact details as much (Shorto 5). However, the trouble begins with the assumption that the country was thus founded as a deliberately religious one. Fundamentalist Christians attempt to characterize the founding fathers as staunch, unwavering men of faith in the teachings of their holy book, the bible. Were they able, some of said founders would likely object. This is exemplified by many quotes, but one of Thomas Jefferson’s shall suffice: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith.” (Dawkins *)
The above is a direct contrast to Christian belief, or really any traditional religious belief, because each requires of its followers what Jefferson refers to as “blind faith”. Being that many historians classify the religious affiliations of the founding fathers as atheistic or deistic (or, better yet, irrelevant), the idea that documents such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were written based on scripture become a bit absurd. Unfortunately, those on the heavily influential Texas school board would beg to differ, but Jefferson, the author of the aforementioned Declaration’s view of the relationship between religion and government is that there is none. This is documented in a response to a letter written to him by Baptists who feared the inability to practice their faith freely; he said that while it is the president’s duty to ensure the rights of religious practices, it is not his place to involve himself in religion (Shorto 5).
Now, moving from the third president to the forty-third, George W. Bush, who infamously stated that God had advised him to invade Iraq in...