The Faiths of the Founding Fathers by David L. HolmesIt is not uncommon to hear Christians argue that America was founded as a Christian nation. But how true is this claim?
In this compact book, David L. Holmes offers a clear, concise and illuminating look at the spiritual beliefs of our founding fathers. He begins with an informative account of the religious culture of the late colonial era, surveying the religious groups in each colony. In particular, he sheds light on the various forms of Deism that flourished in America, highlighting the profound influence this intellectual movement had on the founding generation. Holmes then examines the individual beliefs of a variety of men and women who loom large in our national history. He finds that some, like Martha Washington, Samuel Adams, John Jay, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jeffersons daughters, held orthodox Christian views. But many of the most influential figures, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John and Abigail Adams, Jefferson, James and Dolley Madison, and James Monroe, were believers of a different stripe. Respectful of Christianity, they admired the ethics of Jesus, and believed that religion could play a beneficial role in society. But they tended to deny the divinity of Christ, and a few seem to have been agnostic about the very existence of God. Although the founding fathers were religious men, Holmes shows that it was a faith quite unlike the Christianity of todays evangelicals. Holmes concludes by examining the role of religion in the lives of the presidents since World War II and by reflecting on the evangelical resurgence that helped fuel the reelection of George W. Bush.
An intriguing look at a neglected aspect of our history, the book will appeal to American history buffs as well as to anyone concerned about the role of religion in American culture.
Founding Fathers: We Are Not a Christian Nation
For some time the question of the religious faith of the Founding Fathers has generated a culture war in the United States. Scholars trained in research universities have generally argued that the majority of the Founders were religious rationalists or Unitarians. Pastors and other writers who identify themselves as Evangelicals have claimed not only that most of the Founders held orthodox beliefs but also that some were born-again Christians. Whatever their beliefs, the Founders came from similar religious backgrounds. Most were Protestants.
Many political and religious leaders like to remind Americans they are a Christian nation. It is used as a tool to justify policy decisions. When President Trump needs to explain his policy of promoting protections for far-right Christian beliefs he evokes the religious tradition of the United States. When pastors argue why we should be limiting gay marriage they use quotes of early Founding Fathers. But are they right? Was America indeed created as a Christian nation? The truth is less clearly defined.
This list is by no means exhaustive; many other Founders could be included, and even with those who appear below, additional quotes could have been used.
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Deism was popular at the time — the belief in God as the creator of all things, but not as a miracle worker or one that answers to prayer. Sure, there are the books written and speeches given. But often personal letters and eyewitnesses are a more accurate gauge of belief. These are the men that fought for religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In fact, God, Jesus Christ, and Christianity are not stated once in all of the Constitution, and it is clearly done so on purpose.
The main thesis of the book, found on page , is that the U. Founding Fathers fell into three religious categories:. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. March The Faiths of the Founding Fathers. Oxford University Press. Retrieved
Kennedy fell into Republican hands, his legacy suffered another blow that was perhaps just as damaging, if less noticed. It happened during what has become an annual spectacle in the culture wars. Over two days, more than a hundred people — Christians, Jews, housewives, naval officers, professors; people outfitted in everything from business suits to military fatigues to turbans to baseball caps — streamed through the halls of the William B. Travis Building in Austin , Tex. Each petitioner had three minutes to say his or her piece. Following the appeals from the public, the members of what is the most influential state board of education in the country, and one of the most politically conservative, submitted their own proposed changes to the new social-studies curriculum guidelines, whose adoption was the subject of all the attention — guidelines that will affect students around the country, from kindergarten to 12th grade, for the next 10 years.