Christian Founding Fathers? Some Quotes.
"The nation has offended Providence. We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgment of God; without any recognition of His mercies to us, as a people, of His government, or even of His existence. The [Constitutional] Convention, by which it was formed, never asked even once, His direction, or His blessings, upon their labours. Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system, without God."
(Address by Yale Seminary President Timothy Dwight, July 23, 1812)
"One of the embarrassing problems for the early nineteenth-century champions of the Christian faith was that not one of the first six Presidents of the United States was an orthodox Christian."--The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968, p. 420.
Below are a few quotes by our founding fathers regarding religion--the first, a treaty with Tripoli, being the most poignant.
(George Washington was president when the treaty was signed at Tripoli (1797), but by the time it reached the Senate for ratification John Adams was president.)
"As the government of the United States of America is NOT IN ANY SENSE FOUNDED ON THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION,--as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,--and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mohammedan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever interrupt the harmony existing between the two countries."
"The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy."
"But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed.--John Adams in a letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816, 2000 Years of Disbelief--John A. Haught
"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity." --John Adams
"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."--Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard, 1758
"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."--Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard, 1758
"Religion I found to be without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serves principally to divide us and make us unfriendly to one another."--Benjamin Franklin
"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on a man."--Thomas Jefferson
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State."--Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association on Jan. 1, 1802, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson Memorial Edition, edited by Lipscomb and Bergh, 1903-04, 16:281
"I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises."--Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Miller, 1808
"No religious reading, instruction or exercise, shall be prescribed or practiced [in the elementary schools] inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination."--Thomas Jefferson, Elementary school Act, 1817, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson Memorial Edition, edited by Lipscomb and Bergh, 10:305
"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?" -James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of VA, 1795
"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." -James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, 2000 Years of Disbelief by James A. Haught
"Christianity is not my religion."--A. Lincoln
Pastor Richard T. Zuelch pointed out in his letter to the Los Angeles Times on August 14, 1995:
"Gordon S. Wood, in his 1992 book, "The Radicalism of the American Revolution," states that, by the 1790's only about 10% of the American population regularly attended religious services to quote just one statistic. Not exactly an indication of a wholehearted national commitment to Christianity! It is a matter of simple historical fact that the United States was not founded as, nor was it ever intended to be, a Christian nation.
That there were strong, long-lasting Christian influences involved in the nation's earliest history, due to the Puritan settlements and those of other religious persons escaping European persecution, cannot be denied. But that is a long way from saying that colonial leaders, by the time of the outbreak of the Revolution, were intending to form a nation founded on specifically Christian principles and doctrine.
We Christians do ourselves no favor by bending history to suit our prejudices or to accommodate wishful thinking. Rather than continue to cling to a "Moral Majority"-style fantasy that says America is a Christian nation that needs to be "taken back" from secular unbelief (we can't "take back" what we never had), it would be much healthier for us Christians to face reality, holding to what Jesus himself said in the Gospels: that Christians should never be surprised at the hostility with which the gospel would be greeted by the world, because most people would fail to believe in him, thereby strongly implying that, in every age and country, Christianity would always be a minority faith." (Rev. Richard T. Zuelch, Letter to the Editor, Los Angeles Times, August 1995)
Founding Fathers Would Howl If Called Christian
Christian Founding Fathers? Some Quotes.
Christian Founding Fathers?
America's Christian Roots? / Activism & War
Is America a "Christian" Nation? (6/98)
American Masonic History (6/90)
The Puritan's "Christian" Agenda? (6/98)
Notes on "Christian" America (8/01)
American "Christian" Patriotism (5/91)
"Christian" Activism? (6/98)
What the Bible Says About "Christian" Activism / "Just" Wars or Passive Resistance? (6/98)
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