Founded On Christian Religion

The wording of the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 was not intended to devalue Christianity’s historical contribution to the founding of America, but rather it was an attempt to negotiate with Muslims using phraseology, which would oblige them to honor the treaty.

Reese Kaplan Sunday’s El Paso Times opinion letter proclaimed that “As the Government of the United States of America, is not in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,” as indicated in the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797, Article 11.  

John Eidsmoe, author of the book Christianity and the Constitution, stated that the Federal government is not the nation, and the government of the United States is not the same as the state and local governments. In adopting the First Amendment, the Founders clearly intended that there be no established religion at the national level, but they left the states free to have their own establishments.

U.S. Consul Joel Barlow

U.S. Consul Joel Barlow, realized that Islamic law forbade Muslims from making friendship alliances with infidel nations, he tried to separate in their mind that they were not negotiating with the Christian religion, but with a “nation-state.”

The wording of the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 was not intended to devalue Christianity’s historical contribution to the founding of America, but rather it was an attempt to negotiate with Muslims using phraseology, which would oblige them to honor the treaty.

However, the claim of Article 11 is not in the Arabic version of the Treaty. The 1815-second Treaty annulled Article 11 via omission and renegotiated eight years later in 1805-06. In the final treaty version, after several years of time now having cleared the channels of communication, the part about “America not being Christian” was deliberately and thoughtfully dropped from the treaty text

Ironically, a religious critic and anti-theist Christopher Hitchens admitted in his work Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates (2007):

“Of course, those secularists like myself who like to cite this Treaty must concede that its conciliatory language was part of America’s attempt to come to terms with Barbary demands.”

 

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