Is the Declaration of Independence a ‘Christian’ Document?

Joe Carter | July 4, 2016

‘Faith is a very, very important part of my life,” presidential candidate Rick Santorum said in 2012, “but it’s a very, very important part of this country. The foundational documents of our country—everybody talks about the Constitution, very, very important. But the Constitution is the ‘how’ of America. It’s the operator’s manual. The ‘why’ of America, who we are as a people, is in the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.’”

Many social conservatives, like Sen. Santorum, believe that the central principle asserted in the Declaration of Independence is undeniable. As Jeffrey Bell claims in his book The Case for Polarized Politics, this is one of the key points of division in America between social conservatives and their opponents. “Most—not all—social conservatives believe the words in that sentence are literally true,” Bell writes. “Most—not all—opponents of social conservatism do not believe those words are literally true.”

The idea behind this claim is that most self-identified social conservatives, espeically those who are Christian, literally believe: that men and women were divinely created; that they have equal dignity; that rights are given by a…

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