America was Created by Christians
Ever seen a meme like the one below and thought "what the hell"
The following meme [below] is false and misleading:
The following is what was really said by our founding fathers.
SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; DIPLOMAT; GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA; SECRETARY OF STATE; THIRD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man. 63
The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses. 64
I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others. 65
I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ. 66
The phrase "Founding Fathers" is a proper noun. It refers to a specific group of men, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention. There were other important players not in attendance, like Jefferson, whose thinking deeply influenced the shaping of our nation. These 55 Founding Fathers, though, made up the core.
The denominational affiliations of these men were a matter of public record. Among the delegates were 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and only 3 deists--Williamson, Wilson, and Franklin--this at a time when church membership entailed a sworn public confession of biblical faith.
This is a topic that irritates me quite a bit because it gets to the heart of many athiests. Its not that they simply don't believe in god. Its that many of them just plain hate Christianity. And so they will go out of their way to make sure Christians have nothing they can call their own. Nothing positive that the Christian can point to. And even though 75% of Athiests swing hard left and so hate America and its founding they hate Christianity a lot more. Even if the hatred was equal they wouldn't want to things they hate to have a legitimate connection.
But lets start with some things we all know and some simple common sense. Who were the settlers and why did they come here? They were Christians almost to the last man, woman and child. About 98% Christian with around 2400 Jews. So what was society like when this country was founded? Overwhelmingly Christian it was a Christian society. If it was a voodoo society then this country would have been founded by voodoo. If it was a satanist country this would be satanist founded country. You can cheery pick all you like for a few quotes to make any case you like if you search at a hundred or so people and look at their entire lives but common sense and the facts will tell you this country was founded by Christians. The rewriting we are seeing on this is obscene. It went from they were Christians to they were Deists, to they were Atheists and I have seen those that claim they were Atheists.
Here are some excerpts from different articles to lay this foolishness to rest:
SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; JUDGE; DIPLOMAT; ONE OF TWO SIGNERS
OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS; SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God. 1
Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company: I mean hell. 2
The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity. 3
Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be! 4
I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world. 5
1. America’s Colonial Origins
Few doubt that Puritans were serious Christians attempting to create, in the words of Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop, “a shining city upon a hill” (a reference to Matthew 5:14). Puritans separated church and state, but they clearly thought the two institutions should work in tandem to support, protect, and promote true Christianity.
Other colonies, however, are often described as being significantly different from those in New England. Historian John Fea, for instance, contends that “the real appeal of Jamestown was economic opportunity and the very real possibility of striking it rich.” It is certainly the case that colonists were attracted to the New World by economic opportunity (in New England as well as in the South), and yet even in the southern colonies the protection and promotion of Christianity was more important than many authors assume. For instance, Virginia’s 1610 legal code begins:
Whereas his Majesty, like himself a most zealous prince, has in his own realms a principal care of true religion and reverence to God and has always strictly commanded his generals and governors, with all his forces wheresoever, to let their ways be, like his ends, for the glory of God….
The first three articles of this text go on to state that the colonists have embarked on a “sacred cause,” to mandate regular church attendance, and to proclaim that anyone who speaks impiously against the Trinity or who blasphemes God’s name will be put to death.
Early colonial laws and constitutions such as the Mayflower Compact, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, and Massachusetts Body of Liberties are filled with such language—and in some cases, they incorporate biblical texts wholesale. Perhaps more surprisingly, tolerant, Quaker Pennsylvania was more similar to Puritan New England than many realize. The Charter of Liberties and Frame of Government of the Province of Pennsylvania (1681) begins by making it clear that God has ordained government, and it even quotes Romans 13 to this effect. Article 38 of the document lists “offenses against God” that may be punished by the magistrate, including:
swearing, cursing, lying, profane talking, drunkenness, drinking of healths, obscene words, incest, sodomy…stage-plays, cards, dice, May-games, gamesters, masques, revels, bull-baiting, cock-fighting, bear-baiting, and the like, which excite the people to rudeness, cruelty, looseness, and irreligion….
Although Thomas Paine was not a Christian and therefore the Atheists best buddy Paine himself was not an atheist:
“I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life” (1794). He also wrote: “Were man impressed as fully and as strongly as he ought to be with the belief of a God, his moral life would be regulated by the force of that belief; he would stand in awe of God and of himself, and would not do the thing that could not be concealed from either” (1794). Paine not only believed in “the certainty of his existence and the immutability of his power,” he asserted that “it is the fool only, and not the philosopher, or even the prudent man, that would live as if there were no God.” In fact, he stated that it is “rational to believe” that God would call all people “to account for the manner in which we have lived here” (1794).
An extensive survey of early colonial constitutions and laws reveals many similar provisions. As well, at least nine of the 13 colonies had established churches, and all required officeholders to be Christians—or, in some cases, Protestants. Quaker Pennsylvania, for instance, expected officeholders to be “such as possess faith in Jesus Christ.”
If one is to understand the story of the United States of America, it is important to have a proper appreciation for its Christian colonial roots. By almost any measure, colonists of European descent who settled in the New World were serious Christians whose constitutions, laws, and practices reflected the influence of Christianity. Although some authors refer to this “planting” as a “founding,” such a designation is rare among scholars. Instead, most scholars consider America to have been founded in the late 18th century around one of, or some combination of, two major events: the War for Independence and the creation of America’s constitutional order.
The Declaration of Independence, the most famous document produced by the Continental Congress during the War for Independence, proclaims: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As well, this text references “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” and closes by “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world” and noting the signers’ “reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” The Founders’ use of Christian rhetoric and arguments becomes even more evident if one looks at other statements of colonial rights and concerns such as the Suffolk Resolves, the Declaration of Rights, and the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms—to say nothing of the dozen explicitly Christian calls for prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving issued by the Continental and Confederation Congresses.
Some scholars have argued that the use of “distant” words for God or “vague and generic God-language” like “Nature’s God,” Creator,” and “Providence” in the Declaration and other texts is evidence that the Founders were deists. However, indisputably orthodox Christians regularly used such appellations.
For instance, the Westminster Standards (a classic Reformed confession of faith), both in the original 1647 version and in the 1788 American revision, refer to the deity as “the Supreme Judge,” “the great Creator of all things,” “the first cause,” “righteous judge,” “God the Creator,” and “the supreme Law and King of all the world.” The Standards also regularly reference God’s providence and even proclaim that “[t]he light of nature showeth that there is a God….” Similarly, Isaac Watts, the “father of English Hymnody,” referred to the deity as “nature’s God” in a poem about Psalm 148: 10. Jeffry H. Morrison has argued persuasively that the Declaration’s references to “‘divine Providence’ and ‘the Supreme Judge of the World’ would have been quite acceptable to Reformed Americans in 1776, and conjured up images of the ‘distinctly biblical God’ when they heard or read the Declaration.”
SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION; AUTHOR OF THE FEDERALIST PAPERS; FRAMER OF THE
BILL OF RIGHTS; SECRETARY OF STATE; FOURTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest, while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven. 71
I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactorily by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way. 72
Barry Alan Shain in The Myth of American Individualism: The Protestant Origins of American Political Thought. It also receives interesting empirical support from Donald Lutz, who examined 15,000 pamphlets, articles, and books on political subjects published in the late 18th century. His study found that the Bible was cited far more often than any other book, article, or pamphlet. In fact, the Founders referenced the Bible more than all Enlightenment authors combined.
Even though Christianity is not mentioned in the Constitution or Bill or Rights, the Founders of the American republic were influenced by Christian ideas in significant ways. For example:
Their faith taught them that humans were sinful. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external or internal controls on government would be necessary.” This conviction led them to avoid utopian experiments such as those later pursued during the French Revolution and to adopt a constitutional system characterized by separated powers, checks and balances, and federalism. Many Enlightenment thinkers in this era, by way of contrast, tended to favor a strong, centralized government run by experts.
They firmly believed that God ordained moral standards, that legislation should be made in accordance with these standards, and that moral laws took precedence over human laws. This conviction manifests itself in their abstract reflections (e.g., James Wilson’s law lectures, parts of which read like St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica) and practical decisions (e.g., all but one Supreme Court Justice prior to John Marshall argued publicly that the Court could strike down an act of Congress if it violated natural law).
Similarly, Christianity informed the Founders’ understanding of substantive concepts such as “liberty.” Barry Shain has identified eight different ways in which the word was used in the 18th century. Only one of these is related to the excessively individualistic way the term is often used today. Instead, the Founders were far more likely to see liberty as the freedom to do what is morally correct, as illustrated by United States Supreme Court Justice James Wilson’s marvelous dictum: “Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness.”
America’s Founders believed that humans were created in the imago dei—the image of God. Part of what this means is that humans are reasonable beings. This led them to conclude that we the people (as opposed to the elite) can order our public lives together through politics rather than force. It also helped inform early (and later) American opposition to slavery.
Faith led many Founders to conclude that religious liberty should be extensively protected. Yet many also thought that civic authorities should encourage Christianity and that it is appropriate to use religious language in the public square. By the late 18th century, some Founders were beginning to question the wisdom of religious establishments, primarily because they thought that such establishments hurt true religion. The Founders’ views on these questions have the most immediate and obvious policy and legal implications, so I will address them in some detail.
He called on the entire state to pray “that universal happiness may be established in the world [and] that all may bow to the scepter of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole earth be filled with His glory.” 38
He also called on the State of Massachusetts to pray . . .
that all nations may bow to the scepter of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that the whole earth may be filled with his glory. 39
that the spiritual kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be continually increasing until the whole earth shall be filled with His glory. 40
to confess their sins and to implore forgiveness of God through the merits of the Savior of the World. 41
to cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth. 42
to confess their sins before God and implore His forgiveness through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 43
Consensus #2: States Should Have Established Churches Only If They Encourage and Assist Christianity.
In 1775, at least nine of the 13 colonies had established churches. Although establishments took a variety of forms, they generally entailed the state providing favorable treatment for one denomination—treatment which often included financial support. Members of religious denominations other than the official established church were usually tolerated, but they were occasionally taxed to support the state church, and some were not permitted to hold civic office.
After independence, most states either disestablished their churches (particularly states where the Church of England was previously established) or moved to a system of “plural” or “multiple” establishments. Under the latter model, citizens were taxed to support their own churches. Although a few Founders challenged establishments of any sort in the name of religious liberty, most arguments were framed in terms of which arrangement would be best for Christianity.
A good illustration of the last point may be found in two petitions from Westmoreland County that arrived at the Virginia General Assembly on the same day regarding Patrick Henry’s 1784 proposal to provide state funds to a variety of churches. The first supported Henry’s bill, arguing, much like public-sector unions today, that state subsidies are necessary to keep salaries high enough to attract the best candidates into the ministry.
Opponents of Henry’s plan disagreed, responding that assessments were against “the spirit of the Gospel,” that “the Holy Author of our Religion” did not require state support, and that Christianity was far purer before “Constantine first established Christianity by human Laws.” Rejecting their fellow petitioners’ arguments that government support was necessary to attract good candidates to the ministry, they argued that clergy should manifest:
that they are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon them that Office, that they seek the good of Mankind and not worldly Interest. Let their doctrines be scriptural and their Lives upright. Then shall Religion (if departed) speedily return, and Deism be put to open shame, and its dreaded Consequences removed.
This petition was significantly more popular than James Madison’s now-famous “Memorial and Remonstrance,” another petition written to oppose Henry’s plan. Madison’s memorial has often been referenced to shine light on the First Amendment, and it is regularly treated as a rationalist, secular argument for religious liberty. But, as in the Virginia Declaration, Madison argues that the right to religious liberty is unalienable “because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator.” As well, he noted that “ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation” and that “the bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity.”
REVOLUTIONARY GENERAL; LEGISLATOR; “THE VOICE OF LIBERTY”;
RATIFIER OF THE U. S. CONSTITUTION; GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA
Being a Christian… is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast. 48
The Bible… is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed. 49
Righteousness alone can exalt [America] as a nation…Whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others. 50
The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible. 51
The great, vital, and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and the divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 24
Congress, U. S. House Judiciary Committee, 1854
Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle… In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity… That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.25
SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION; GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA; GOVERNOR OF DELAWARE; GENERAL IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
Rendering thanks to my Creator for my existence and station among His works, for my birth in a country enlightened by the Gospel and enjoying freedom, and for all His other kindnesses, to Him I resign myself, humbly confiding in His goodness and in His mercy through Jesus Christ for the events of eternity. 26
[Governments] could not give the rights essential to happiness… We claim them from a higher source: from the King of kings, and Lord of all the earth.27
SOLDIER; JUDGE; SELECTED AS DELEGATE TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION;
COMPTROLLER OF THE U. S. TREASURY; U. S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE
I resign my soul into the hands of the Almighty Who gave it, in humble hopes of His mercy through our Savior Jesus Christ.28
SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION; DIPLOMAT; PRINTER; SCIENTIST;
SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION; GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA
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. 29
The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here, food for worms. Yet the work itself shall not be lost; for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new and more beautiful edition, corrected and amended by the Author.30 (FRANKLIN’S EULOGY THAT HE WROTE FOR HIMSELF)
America’s Founders were committed to the idea that religion (by which virtually all of them meant Christianity) was necessary for public happiness and political prosperity. This view was so widespread that James Hutson has called it “the Founders’ syllogism.” The key question with respect to particular establishments at the state level was whether they helped or hurt the faith.
Consensus #3: Religion Belongs in the Public Square.
Jefferson issued calls for prayer and fasting as governor of Virginia, and in his revision of Virginia’s statutes, he drafted bills stipulating when the governor could appoint “days of public fasting and humiliation, or thanksgiving” and to punish “Disturbers of Religious Worship and Sabbath Breakers.” As a member of the Continental Congress, he proposed that the nation adopt a seal containing the image of Moses “extending his hand over the sea, caus[ing] it to overwhelm Pharaoh,” and the motto “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” He closed his second inaugural address by encouraging all Americans to join him in seeking “the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old….” And two days after completing his letter to the Danbury Baptists, he attended church services in the U.S. Capitol, where he heard John Leland, the great Baptist minister and opponent of religious establishments, preach.
The point is not that Jefferson was a pious man who wanted a union between church and state. His private letters make it clear that he was not an orthodox Christian, and his public arguments and actions demonstrate that he favored a stricter separation between church and state than virtually any other Founder. Yet even Jefferson, at least in his actions, did not attempt to completely remove religion from the public square, and what Jefferson did not completely exclude, most Founders embraced.
One of Congress’s first acts was to agree to appoint and pay congressional chaplains. Shortly after doing so, it reauthorized the Northwest Ordinance, which held that “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
More significantly for understanding the First Amendment, on the day after the House approved the final wording of the Bill of Rights, Elias Boudinot, later president of the American Bible Society, proposed that the President recommend a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. In response to objections that such a practice mimicked European customs or should be done by the states, Roger Sherman, according to a contemporary newspaper account:
justified the practice of thanksgiving, on any signal event, not only as a laudable one in itself, but as warranted by a number of precedents in holy writ: for instance, the solemn thanksgivings and rejoicings which took place in the time of Solomon, after the building of the temple, was a case in point. This example, he thought, worthy of Christian imitation on the present occasion; and he would agree with the gentleman who moved the resolution.
The House agreed, as did the Senate, as did the President. The result was George Washington’s famous 1789 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. The text of his proclamation is worth quoting at some length:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…
I do recommend…the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be….
Christian ideas underlie some key tenets of America’s constitutional order. For instance, the Founders believed that humans are created in the image of God, which led them to design institutions and laws meant to protect and promote human dignity. Because they were convinced that humans are sinful, they attempted to avoid the concentration of power by framing a national government with carefully enumerated powers. As well, the Founders were committed to liberty, but they never imagined that provisions of the Bill of Rights would be used to protect licentiousness. And they clearly thought moral considerations should inform legislation.