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Freedom of Religion

Were the founders Christians?

Franklin, Jefferson, and Washington all held different opinions about the sacredness of the gospel and the presence of an omnipotent God. Was this nation built on Christian values?

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Horace Mann Student
Yes, because (espically) Thomas Jefferson defended the Christian values followed from the belief in God. Most of the 13 colonies ( more so New York before the occupation of the British) were deeply Christian. Even the slaves were ment to convert to Christianity for the sake of the colony. The base of this country, made "popular" by our founding fathers is based on the "first" Dutch to come to North America and focus on Christianity in the settlement
Horace Mann Student
Also, Deism has to relate to this theory
Anonymous
Prior to the Revolution, and the disestablishment of The Church (of England) which in Virginia, for example, required both attendance and tithing in order to be a voting "citizen" - all of the founding generation attended church. All tithed. But some were actually Methodists or Presbyterians or Baptists and attended and supported their preferred denomination in addition to the required Church. Others were deist. Some agnostic and maybe there were some atheists, too, but all were members of The Church. So, the Virginia "founders" at least, while practicing members of the established church, were opposed to an established church in their newly conceived republic. They were not necessarily "Christian" and only a few were of the "New Light" (reborn) variety. A majority wanted a nation founded not on Christianity and certainly not on any established church. But in creating a secular republic, many were individually and personally guided by values derived from their common experience with The Church. Would that common experience be called "Christian values?" Not in the way the term is applied today.
Anonymous
There can be no doubt that as men of the "Enlightenment", they would have favored the idea that society had evolved enough to have embraced values of Christianity as undisputed.....i.e. love and respect of fellow man, equally loved by the Creator, gentile behavior, moral ethics established in society since the conversion of the Roman empire. It was a given that all democratic government were doomed once they gave in to corruption.....morally and politically. What other ethic would they have known except the Christian unless they were of other cultures / faiths ??
Anonymous
It is too simplistic a question. The yes/no nature of the question furthers the idea that there is a right or wrong interpretation and creates the image of a monolithic set of beliefs of the founding generations. What does it mean to be Christian? Were the Catholics of Maryland Christians? Was Roger Williams a christian as far as the Puritans were concerned? Were the Anglicans considered Christians to the Huguenots?
Jeff
I would say yes to the question of "was it build on chistian values". That question is very different from "were the founders Christians" I think the founders were pretty similar to today's politicians in being a mix of true believers of Christ, nominal Christians, deists, agnostics. I think perhaps a few were atheists as well. But the values commonly held by the founders were definitely to a large extent the result of the influence of the Christian faith.
HRearden
Uh, some of them were Christians and some were not. It is not a question that can be answered yes or no. The founders were individuals who believed different things and that includeds the subject of religion. People should be viewed as individuals and not as a collective.
Anonymous
Individuals then, as now, held a wide variety of beliefs. There can be no doubt, however, that the United States of America was founded upon, and has enjoyed its greatest periods of success while practicing, Christian values.
HRearden
Given the various denominations of Christianity and opposing views on Christianity by the factions or denominations, what are these Christian values you mentioned? People calling themselves Christians hold a huge difference on what Christian values are. Hitler for example called himself a Christian as do members of groups such as the KKK. Also there are groups such as those who call themselves the Westboro Baptist Church. In the days of the founders there were also differences amoung those who called themselves Christians.
Anonymous
Individuals then, as now, held a wide variety of beliefs. There can be no doubt, however, that the United States of America was founded upon, and has enjoyed its greatest periods of success while practicing, Christian values.
Anonymous
No man can be the judge of another man's soul. Therefore I do not say that the founding fathers were not Christians, but rather, that their actions were not Christian. I have two primary reasons for holding this belief. (1) The founding fathers were, almost to a man, free masons. The true and faithful Church holds this group to be a dangerous cult. The most notable exception was Thomas Jefferson and he was a diest. (2) Rebellion against the King is an act condemned by God. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." (Romans 13: 1-2 KJV(Which is the version of the Bible these men were supposedly familiar with!)) This is only one instance in scripture where rebellion is strongly spoken against. The book of 1 Peter (writen during the Neronian persecutions) also commands obedience even to unjust rulers. The bottom line is that Satan was cast out of Heaven for the same action toward God that the founding fathers commited against the King. It is no wonder that God is allowing our country to slide down the road toward immorality and destruction when we celebrate such a wicked event evey 4th day of July. Thus between involvement in apostate cults and damnable acts of rebellion (not to mention issues such as slavery and mistresses) it is certain that our beloved country was NOT founded on Christian principles.
Anonymous
Yes, built on Christian values. However, I'm not sure all the founder were truly Christians.
Anonymous
Yes I beleive they were Christians.
Anonymous
It just so happens that most of the colonists, from England, were Christian...therefore, the nation was built on Christian values. It's a fact that you can't dispute. If this nation were settled by Jews or Muslims, we would say it was founded on Jewish or Muslim values. For anyone to re-write history and dispute the fact that the nation was found on Christian values is lying. It's not racist or intolerant -- it's a fact!
Bob
The questions "Were the founders Christians?" and "Was America built on Christian values?" are different. I click yes in answer to the second. American values are Judeo-Christian and are Biblical in origin. Washington and Jefferson were Anglicans but were essentially Deists. God only knows about Franklin. But all three proclaimed Judeo Christian ethics. The list of "Orthodox" Christians among the founders is thin. I can't speak for other Colonies but in Virginia...Patrick Henry, Robert Carter Nicholas, probably James Madison.
Anonymous
This is an invalid question because some were Christians and some were not. It's a fallacy to lump them all into a Christian or non Christian category. The better question is the one at the end of the prompt, was this nation built on Christian values? The answer would be yes. The Founders wrote their laws with a basis on morality and virtue stemming from faith (see triangle of freedom). This does not necessarily mean the Christian faith, but faith of some kind. However, many articles and ideas in the Declaration of Independence can only emerge from a Judeo-Christian worldview.
mark worrell
Christian VALUES, but probably not absolute Christian belief.
Anonymous
Their have been two themes running through the History of the United States. The Puritan/Pilgrim theme of establishing a "city on the hill" nation based on over zealous Christian principles. Yet at the same time we have the theme of the Enlightenment/ Business men who came to America with their values. THe latter strand of thought may not have been truly Christian in the Biblical sense, but they acknowledged the need for Judeo-Christian principles to see a nation not fall into decay. So it is to simplistic to just give a true yes or no answer.
Dorothy Raskin
Yes
Anonymous
Jefferson believed in the righteousness of the teaching of Jesus, but not in his divinity. Thus, Jefferson was not a Christian if you define Christianity as a belief in the divinity of Christ. Franklin also rejected the divinity of Christ and is considered a Deist. Many of the founders were strongly influenced by the humanist ideas of the Enlightenment making them fundamental different from today's Christians. Realistically, the founders would not have understood today's evangelical Christianity and may have even seen it as a threat to the stability of our nation. So, was the nation founded upon Christian values? Yes. Was the nation founded as a Christian state? No. Jefferson's "wall of separation" suggested there needed to be a wall preventing government from interfering with religion and religion from interfering with government. They understood the wars and revolutions caused by religion and wanted to protect the nation from those dangers.
Anonymous
For sure, America is built upon Judeo-Christian values. That is not a question. It is impossible to fully understand the extent of each founder's faith. It is interesting, however, to examine them as individuals to help determine the role that Christianity played in their personal lives and in the founding of our nation. An example of this lies with Benjamin Franklin during the Constitutional Congress. After weeks of heated debate and discussion about how our government would ultimately be framed, Franklin, in essence, said to his counterparts, that during the Continental Congress they prayed to God for guidance and His blessing as they attempted to what no other nation on Earth had ever done. And, he remarked, look at the blessings He has bestowed upon us. So, he says basically, what makes us think we can succeed in this particular endeavor without once again asking God for his blessing? He moved to begin each day with a prayer. It was seconded and passed. And that is why, today, Congress opens each day with a prayer.
HRearden
America was to a degree built upon the biblical value of slavery. The bible condones slavery and gives instructions on the treatment of slaves. I suppose one could say that America was built upon that value found in the bible.
Anonymous
The bible does not condone slavery. There is no "biblical value" of slavery. I am sorry but statements like this tell me that you have not studied the entire bible in depth and "in context". I guess God severely punished the Egyptians because he was so pleased with the way they were enslaving the Jewish people. Back in the days of Leviticus slavery was sanctioned due to economic reasons. Back then, there were no such thing as bankruptcy laws so people would sell themselves into slavery to rectify debts. A craftsman could use his skills to literally "pay off" a debt. Or a convicted thief could make restitution by serving as a slave. (Exodus 22:3) The Bible denounces slavery as sin. It puts slave traders in the same category as murderers. Do not use these type of FALSE statements as a justification to rewrite history. No all the founders were not devout "christians". The majority of them were.
Jeff
That is a very interesting topic. I think that the bible does not condone slavery as it was conducted in America. It does address the fact that slavery existed. I am not a scholar on this though. My take is that what the bible called slavery was something more like exclusive rights to the work of an individual, but not absolute ownership as if the person was not a human being. Its a complex thing. The bible addressed it in some places mater of factly, that it existed, but not condoning it. For instance Paul telling slaves and masters how to treat and deal with one another. That he spoke about it does not mean he would of been perpetuating it. Its a complicated subject for sure. One thing I am sure of is the bible could not be correctly interpreted to allow what happened in America with regard to slavery.
Laura Davidson
It was my understanding it was founded upon Freemasonary. Check the dollar bill. Also, many of the country's founders and architects of our political system at that time were Diests. They all generally defended and understood the importance of religious freedom BUT did not endorse a state religion. For good reasons. Europe was awash in religious revolt from the more mainstream Roman Catholic and even Protestant power bases. England and Germany especially. Remember, many of the early settlers (aside from cod fishermen) were looking for religious freedom to practice their faiths and maske new lives for themselves in various modes of business and religion and, of course, heavy taxation. Including the Jews, a group looking for all of the above and more based upon their experiences in Europe. The idea that the United States was set up for a Christian nation is bosh.
Anonymous
The way you have written the question, blurs that issue. You could also have asked if if was built on Greek values. For that matter, it was as easily, Judea-Christian values. Church and state issues are different and no matter what the predominant faith was, many founding fathers did not want any pressure from a Church on the State. Jefferson's podcast of today was interesting. CF
Anonymous
One need only look to the writings and speeches given by the founders to clearly understand that they were Christians. Frankly, the clarity of their religious leanings makes the question "Were the founders Christians?" absurd.
Brian
Throughout the consitution and the decleration of Independence there are numerious referals to the Christian Faith. If the founders were not Christians then how would these references be there.
Raylene H
How can you take a vote on this? They either were or they weren't. Our opinions make no difference to the truth. The evidence from their writings and the conduct of their lives clearly supports a Christian founding. And there were more "founders" than Franklin, Jefferson and Washington which I'm sure you know.
Jane
Definitely our nation was founded on Christian values, though not necessarily by believing and practicing followers of Christ. One can accept and believe the ethics and morality without affirming belief in the propagator of those values. HReardon: Hitler may have been reared a Christian, though he recanted his Christian beliefs and attempted to establish a 'pagan' Germany; True Christians in Germany at this time were a much persecuted minority and were forced to worship in secret. Bonhoeffer was a devoted Christian.
Anonymous
The founders certainly built the new republic on Christian values and ideals (which guided them along), but, unlike what many say today, they did not set out to create a Christian republic. Franklin and Washington frequently gave credit to their successes to divine providence.
Anonymous
It doesn't really matter what any of you think. It's a historical fact. See Alexis de Tocqueville's affirmation.
Students From C...
Yes,we think this nation was built on Christian values because most of the people who came from Europe where Christian at that time.For example some of the Spanish explores that came to Florida converted the Native Americans who were here to Christianity.:)
Anonymous
Where did the Christian values come from, I wonder?
Anonymous
Yes. When you go back to the original documents and sources, many containing original letters and journals and such, and carefully examine the contents, you will find countless references by these individuals that refer to Providence, the holy one, Almighty God and many other names as well as reference to the Bible.
Anonymous
As I read it nothing in Lord Herbert's five points of Deism contradict anything in Judaism's thirteen principles of faith. This may explain why Colonial leadership had no problem accepting Jews along with Christians as good citizens.
Anonymous
Can't wait to learn the answer.
Anonymous
From what I have read, they held Christian values. Jefferson even thought that participating in church services gave the community some continuity. However, they did have Deist beliefs when it came God.

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