Some people say that the Tripoli Treaty of 1797 states clearly that the United States is NOT a Christian nation. Here’s what it said, and here’s what I think. It said
the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen
This is just my humble opinion, but like noses, everyone has one.
I think the key to understanding this is context. What is the context? Judging from history, the context seems to be the “Christianity” of Europe which attacked Muslims (Musselmen) during the Crusades and other times. It appears that the treaty was worded in such a way as to give the Muslims great assurance that America is not like those European nations who called themselves “Christian” yet attacked them mercilessly. The American founders detested government control by “Christian institutions,” yet most of them were strong, Protestant Christians themselves, showing their Christian committment in numerous waysfrom founding colleges at Harvard, Princeton and Yale for the express purpose of training Christian preachers to go throughout all the land, to forming Bible Societies to help get Bibles distributed everywhere, to having prayer meetings in Congress, to carving Bible verses in stone, etc, etc, etc.
So it seems to me that this treaty could really have been worded
the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion [of Europe] as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen
and it seems that the reason “of Europe” was not inserted in the language was because everyone understood what their meaning was and there was no need to insert this.
Is that an unreasonable opinion?