I was contacted by the local University of South Carolina (USC) student-led atheist group, the Pastafarians, to participate in a debate on October 29, 2009, on the question: “Is America a Christian Nation?” at the University of South Carolina Darla Moore Business School in Columbia, South Carolina. My original debate opponent was a local Columbia, SC, Unitarian minister who I felt had a similar educational background and level of experience as myself. Three weeks before the scheduled debate, the sponsoring group informed me that a change had taken place and that Dr. Silverman would be my new debate opponent. Dr. Herb Silverman is the current president of the Secular Coalition for America (see www.Secular.org), one of the most active atheist organizations in the USA. Well-known atheists, Richard Dawkins, Michael Newdow, and Christopher Hitchens are on his advisory board.
Although I was familiar with the topic from past study, I spent three months engaged in serious research and reviewed numerous books and articles, and was bathed in prayer and preparation. I was very grateful for the many friends who assisted me in this debate with their prayers, counsel, and printed materials. American Vision books, DVDs, as well as counsel from Gary DeMar and his staff, played an important role in my preparation. After my first passion for promoting K-12 Christian education and home schooling through the Exodus Mandate Project, the topic of America’s Christian heritage is one that, over the years, I have spent much time researching. I had not lectured or spoken much on the subject of America’s Christian foundation, and I had never before participated in a debate on the topic. I had a sense of peace that this was God’s will for me and that I was the one appointed to speak at this debate.
In my opening statement I focused on the Supreme Court case of the Church of the Holy Trinity vs. United States. In my opinion, this is a great starting point and makes an explicit case for America as a Christian nation as late as 1892 on the threshold of the 20th Century. Supreme Court Justice David J. Brewer, who wrote the opinion, made the statement that “this is a Christian nation” and “this is a religious people.” This is hard even for an atheist to contradict, but Dr. Silverman attempted to pass this off as a case no longer considered by an “enlightened” Supreme Court today. I believe it was an effective approach to use the Holy Trinity decision. During the question and answer period, when I received several hostile questions, I did take the time to criticize the Roe v. Wade case (legalizing abortion) as not based on God’s law and improperly decided by the Supreme Court. My defense of the Holy Trinity decision during the question and answer period was that it was valid since it was based on the Constitution, God’s moral law, and our nation’s Christian heritage.
During my rebuttal and in my closing statement, I emphasized the separation of church and state myth that is so prevalent in academia, the secular media ,and court decision-making today. The separation of Church and state myth is used as a club against religious people. As I stated in my closing:
“The First Amendment was adopted to chain the federal government from over-reaching into the religious realm, not to control the Church or to restrict the voices and votes of religious people. The concept of the wall of separation was to keep the federal government out of the Church, not to keep Christian values out of government.”
With the Lord’s help, I was able to make the case for America’s Christian origins and founding. I believe I made no major errors, but my friends can be the judge of that. We are offering the uncut debate DVD for $19.00. You may contact our office by calling (803)714–1744 or order online at www.Exodusmandate.org. After reviewing the DVD myself, I regret I could not address more of Dr. Silverman’s issues, but time simply did not allow for it and I stayed on my own timeline. I concentrated my four rebuttals on his claim for the “godless Constitution,” the Tripoli Treaty of 1797, Article VI of the Constitution, and the Separation of Church and State myth. We estimate the attendance was 275–300 people, evenly divided between atheists and Christian supporters.
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My heartfelt thanks again for the assistance I received by American Vision. The two books that were very helpful were Gary DeMar’s America’s Christian History: The Untold Story and David Brewer’s The United States: A Christian Nation. The DVD series on The Case for American’s Christian Heritage was also helpful. I hope and pray that Frontline’s DVD of the debate can be a tool in helping others to prepare for and meet the growing demands for truth about America’s Christian origins and to see these conflicting ideals of government, history and world views in stark contrast. I encourage Gary DeMar and American Vision to assist others as they did for me for this debate.
Through this experience I learned several lessons: Never enter into a debate or forum against such a skillful debater as Dr. Herb Silverman without thorough preparation. Have real conviction on the topic of America’s Christian foundation. My purpose was to persuade Christians of the importance of this issue. A Christian people robbed of their heritage are easily manipulated by every wind of doctrine. Be prayerful and seek God’s assistance every step of the way.
For information about Ray Moore’s work with Exodus Mandate, go to www.Exodusmandate.org.