THE NATION’S FOUNDING PRINCIPLES…. The National Review‘s Kathryn Jean Lopez, writing an item for the National Catholic Register, reflects on the Obama inauguration. (via Sullivan)

Rick Warren reminded us why all eyes were on the Capitol steps that Tuesday afternoon: “in His name.”

We’re a nation not just where you are free to believe or not to believe; we’re a nation founded for Him — so we could praise Him, so we could do His will.

Well, not exactly. Actually, not at all.

To be sure, those who want “praise Him” and “do His will” are certainly free to do so. It’s a founding principle of our government — people have the right to freely exercise their spiritual beliefs, or not, based on the dictates of one’s conscience.

But to argue that the United States was founded “for Him” (emphasis in the original) just isn’t supported by the facts. Long-time readers may recall that I used to work for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, so this is an issue that I’ve had an interest in for quite a while. I’ll spare you a lengthy First Amendment diatribe, but I will say that the nation was founded on secular principles, which led to a secular government, based on the structures of a secular Constitution. The right may not like it, and wish they could change it, but the separation of church and state is real, and it’s one of the founders’ great contributions to Western governmental traditions.

Reasonable people can debate constitutional interpretation, but to argue that the country was formed specifically as a celebration of and testament to one faith tradition’s deity is simply wrong.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.