If God Ran the State Department

"In the Name of the most Holy & undivided Trinity." A Thus begins the Treaty of Paris (1783) by which Great Britain formally conceded the existence of the independent United States of America. This matter-of-fact invocation of the Triune God of Christianity stands in sharp contrast to the stirring tributes to human authority in the opening words of the documents usually cited as the foundations of the American republic: the Declaration of Independence ("When in the Course of human events . . . ") and our second, and theoretically our current, constitution ("We the People of the United States . . . "). In fact, as the deed to our national existence, the Treaty of Paris is arguably the American founding document. The fact that the Christian invocation was pro forma for the times says as much about the times as the principle: the United States took its place among the nations of the world as an explicitly Christian polity.

With the possible exceptions of Puritan New England and the incipient state of Deseret, the United States has never been a theocracy in the sense that the ecclesiastical establishment ruled the civil. But until recently, it was unarguably a thearchy since public authorities, at all levels, from the schoolmarm leading her students in the Lord's Prayer to the President and the Supreme Court, openly affirmed Christianity (in its Protestant iteration) as the uncontested...

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