The 4th of July is upon us and with it comes cookouts, fireworks, and American flags. As we celebrate the birthday of our nation, many reflect on the faith of the founding fathers of our nation. What did they believe? How did the faith of the founding fathers impact their decision-making process? Were they regular members of churches? Were some of them deists?
The question of the religious faith of the Founding Fathers has always caused a culture war in America. The most famous scholars claim that most of the Founders were religious rationalists or Unitarians. Evangelicals (pastors and laymen) claim not only that most of the Founders adhered to orthodox beliefs.
“...all men should enjoy the fullest toleration in the exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience....”
Madison objected to the word “toleration.” He thought it insinuated that religious belief was gifted by the government and not an inalienable right of all people. He suggested, “all men are entitled to the full and free exercise” of religion. This was added instead.
“...acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation; beseeching Him at the same time, of His infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all our offences, and to incline us, by His Holy Spirit, to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for His inestimable favor and heavenly benediction.”
“...they are the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man...”
I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.
“As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see...”
He then went on to express that he thought some of the teachings of Jesus had been hijacked by political schemes and admitted to doubting the divinity of Jesus.
As you can see, some of our founding fathers held very deep and strong beliefs about Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ. Each wrestled with what religion and the government had to do with the other and how to express that in the newly formed states of America. This is only the tip of the iceberg on this subject. There are several books out there that examine the faith of the founding fathers.
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