Faith and freedom on Fourth

Is America a Christian nation? You can argue it either way.

You can maintain that in 1776 only 17 percent of U.S. citizens confessed Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Or you can contend that in the April 2009 annual Gallup poll, about 77 percent of U.S. citizens identified themselves as Christian.

You can remind others that the first amendment to the Bill of Rights says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Or you can quote the 1783 Treaty of Paris between our country and England, which ended the Revolutionary War. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay signed a document which begins, “In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity” and that ends dated, as presidential proclamations still do, “in the year of our Lord.”

You can brandish the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, in which we told Muslim pirates from Africa, “The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”

Or you can counter that the phrase doesn’t seem to appear in the original Arabic version of the same treaty.

Back and forth the debate bounces.

There’s a better way.

Ask God what kind of nation he wants America to be. In short, he answers:

n A nation in which believers in Jesus pray for our rulers.

“I urge, first of all,” Jesus’ apostle Paul wrote, “that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1–6).

n A nation in which Jesus’ followers have a single confidence, but dual allegiance.

When asked about paying taxes to Tiberius, Jesus noted that his fellow Jews carried coins bearing Tiberius’ name and picture.

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” he concluded, “and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

Rev. Daniel A. Witte, pastor of Risen Savior Lutheran Church, can be reached at 747-5564.