Even Bertrand Russell -- an early exemplar of "antagonistic atheism" -- acknowledged in "A History of Western Philosophy" that the Enlightenment was essentially the culmination of Martin Luther's schism with the Roman Catholic Church -- the Reformation.The column, titled:
America a Christian nation? Think againTakes a very fair and practical look at the idea that America is a "Christian Nation."
Her answer, by the way, is "Yes and no." I'd agree with her answer but not with how she forms the question.
But let's look at the stumble.
Let me say on the outset that I am a big fan of hers. I disagree with her politics, of course, but that doesn't mean I can't be a fan. When she writes about music, she's awesome. However today? Looks like she uses the wikipedia for research. Take a look at the above now take a look at what I found this morning (4/9/12 at about 7:40am) at the article "Age of Enlightenment":
According to Bertrand Russell, however, the enlightenment was a phase in a progressive development, which began in antiquity, and that reason and challenges to the established order were constant ideals throughout that time. Russell argues that the enlightenment was ultimately born out of the Protestant reaction against the Catholic counter-reformation, when the philosophical views of the past two centuries crystallized into a coherent world view. He argues that many of the philosophical views, such as affinity for democracy against monarchy, originated among Protestants in the early 16th century to justify their desire to break away from the pope and the Catholic Church. Though many of these philosophical ideals were picked up by Catholics, Russell argues, by the 18th century the Enlightenment was the principal manifestation of the schism that began with Martin Luther. [emphasis added]The footnote ("") points to Russell's A History of Western Philosophy, pages 492-4. Here's a screen capture (sorry for the size, if you click on it, you can see it full sized). The main problem with Wikipedia
It's not that she's incorrect, but the problem with using Wikipedia as a reference is this: It's only as reliable as the last person who chose to edit it.
And so those few pages in the Russell aren't exactly about The Enlightenment but about the rise of science and "Modern Philosophy" after the Counter-Reformation. If you stretch the definition of "enlightenment" to cover " the rise of science and "Modern Philosophy" after the Counter-Reformation" then I guess Ruth Ann's correct but as I couldn't actually find the word "enlightenment" on those pages, I'd have to call it abit of a stretch. One that Ruth Ann could have avoided had she gone directly (as we all should) to Russell.
As to the question "Is this a Christian Nation?" I'd have to say that it depends on how you defines "Christian Nation." If one defines a nation as "Christian" because most of its citizens are Christian, then of course it is.
But if you look at the founding documents of that nation's government and find no reference to any religious authority (ie "This is a Christian Nation, it's laws are based on Christian principles." etc) then of course it's not.