Our government’s supposed to serve our people, not force the religion-based values of a strident “Christian Nation” minority onto the rest of us. Yet somehow, right-wing Evangelical “Christians” have taken over the GOP, and now the GOP has taken over America despite losing the popular vote.

As Americans, we’re all entitled to our faiths and belief systems. But our freedom of religion — as enshrined in the First Amendment — holds that religion should not impose itself on our government or be used to deny rights to our people. Yet our federal government and many of our state legislatures are now run by religious zealots who howl about Sharia law in Muslim countries while imposing what feels more and more like Sharia law to the rest of us.

And guess what? The U.S. is NOT — and never has been — a “Christian Nation” as 44 percent of Republicans claim…At least not their kind of Christian.

10 toxic and destructive “Christian Nation” lies debunked.

1. America is NOT a “Christian nation.” The Pew Research Center’s 2015 Religious Landscape Study finds 70 percent of us are Christian, but only 25.4 percent identify as Evangelical Protestants. Among that 25.4 percent, only 55 percent say they’re conservative. The rest see themselves as centrist-to-moderate (27 percent),  liberal (13 percent), or they don’t know (6 percent)*.

2. America was not founded as a “Christian nation” either. Our founding fathers came from various Christian backgrounds, but most were influenced by Deism. Deists believe in a creator, but embrace reason over religion. Neither the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, nor anything else our founding fathers wrote say anything about our being a “Christian Nation.” In fact, they took great care to use neutral, inclusive, and non-religion specific language for the concept of “God,” including “Providence” and the “Creator.”

3. No, we are not persecuting you. Right-wing evangelicals keep howling about persecution every time a Court rules against 10 Commandments monuments in public spaces, or when the government steps in to stop so-called Christians from bullying young girls, LGBT people, Muslims, Jews, women, and others. But guess what? Religious tolerance does not mean we have totolerate your intolerance.

4. God did not create the world 6,000 years ago. Young Earth Creationists believe God created the world just 6,000 years ago and that dinosaurs lived side-by-side with humans. This flat-out rejection of history, science, and massive amounts of evidence isn’t just counter-productive, it poses a dire threat to the rest of us. Furthermore, children raised with these beliefs and whose parents use “school choice” vouchers for “Christian” schools and bible-based curricula are being hobbled and deprived of their right to a quality education.

5. Climate change is not “natural.” It’s one thing to believe climate change is “naturally occurring” because you think the Bible tells you so. It’s quite another thing for our leaders to put our people and the entire world in danger (while enriching fossil fuel companies) through their bogus, religion-based climate change denial. More than a billion people who live in low-lying areas are under threat of rising sea levels. Even those of us who feel safe may not realize that global warming is also doing a number on our health.

6. The Bible does not ban abortions and birth control. Face it. The Republicans don’t keep trying to defund Planned Parenthood because they care about “life.” They just want to deny health care and basic human rights to low-income women. The Bible has no bans on abortion, either in the Old Testament nor in the new one. But the Bible does clearly hold girls and women as inferior. In modern times, forcing girls and women to have children they don’t want is a cruel way to deprive them of their reproductive rights and keep them from going to college, launching careers, and pursuing their dreams as men do.

7. Rape is not part of God’s plan. Indiana’s treasurer Richard Mourdock raised eyebrows back in 2012 when he declared that rape and pregnancy is “something God intended to happen.” No, rape is something the rapist intended to happen. But the fact that his fellow Republicans didn’t kick him out of the party shows the entire party doesn’t give a damn about women, their mental and physical well-being, or the fact that if they get pregnant, they shouldn’t be forced to choose the life of a blastocyst, embryo, or fetus at the expense of their own.

8. Being LGBT is not a choice. It’s genetic, they’re born that way. You’d think these so-called “Christians” would know better since they’re always saying God doesn’t make mistakes. Denying transgender people the right to use the bathroom of their choice, trying to “pray away the gay,” and subjecting your-your gay or lesbian child to “conversion therapy” and/or sending them away to conversion camps is a flat-out immoral violation of their human rights.

9. God does NOT always help those who help themselves. Right-wing Christians and the GOP aren’t content with inflicting misery on women, children, LGBT people, and non-Christians. They also love kicking the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society while they’re down. They don’t believe the government should help, because our nation’s unfortunate are lazy, inferior, and have somehow fallen from grace. The fact that we blame ourselves when we’re struggling reveals the tenacious depth of our nation’s Calvinist/Puritan roots.  But while the values of independence and hard work are laudable, people also often have bad luck. Letting people go hungry, lose their homes, get sick, and die from preventable causes is cruel and also makes for bad public policy. After all, good public policy seeks to have a reasonably healthy, happy, prosperous, and productive population.

10. Charity can’t replace welfare. Right-wing Christians and their GOP lawmakers say we don’t need to “force” Americans to pay for social safety net programs with their precious tax dollars. After all, that’s why we have charities that we can give to voluntarily. But a recent study by Texas A&M economist Jonathan Meer shows why that won’t work: Mainly because when disaster strikes and people need charity the most, fewer people are able to give. The 2008 recession saw a massive drop in giving that never returned to previous levels, possibly because of increased uncertainty. And what about churches? A 2013 article from Church Finance Today reveals that even the most church-going parts of the country don’t have that kind of money. “68% of churches in the West-South Central U.S., and 64% of churches in the East-South Central U.S. have expenses exceeding income.”

Former President Jimmy Carter, a Southern Baptist, once noted that a “Christian Nation” isn’t just bad for our country, it’s also bad for the Church.

“When a group of Christians try to implant through government our beliefs on others as superior, that subverts the basic constitutional prohibition concerning separation of church and state. And when we try to use the federal government to intercede in religious affairs, it inherently weakens the unique character of Christ’s kingdom.”

*Yes, I know the Pew Survey figures add up to 101 percent.

Featured image: Public Domain 2009 FEMA/Bill Koplitz via Wikimedia Commons (U.S. Capitol Building with cross added); Public Domain via Pixabay (stormy sky).