The question and answer are locked and cannot be edited.

What religion were the Founding Fathers?

already exists.

Would you like to merge this question into it?

already exists as an alternate of this question.

Would you like to make it the primary and merge this question into it?

exists and is an alternate of .

Our founding fathers were Christians. To plainly say they were "Christians" is a bit misleading. Some of them were, but others were deists, or believed in one spirtual being (God if you will) which had very little to do with governing their lives on earth.

However, it is important to note that all of the Founding Fathers followed Christian doctrine for rules on how to conduct ones self, for it was so intertwined with the society. Benjamin Franklin probably explains it best when he, to paraphrase, said that although he is unsure of whether God exists or not, he felt it was better to believe in Christianity and the Christian God than not to, for the Christian teachings prevented moral anarchy. Thus, our nation was founded on Christian principles because the Founding Generation recognized the value in them to create a moral, virtuous society.   Actual quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and others plainly and unequivocally state that they were NOT Christians, did NOT believe Jesus was the son of god, did NOT want the laws of the United States to be based on ANY religion (and several hold contempt specifically for Christianity), and believed that, in a democracy, religious feeling would eventually subside and disappear.   The founding fathers were both deist's and christians, as to say which religion they held to. but they all held to the use of the god given reson they had. they did not think that the church should have the input, but that us as god fearing people, be it deist's or christians, should have they say in government. See if you look at what they say, it holds that they all held the ethics of the bible as good. some held the bible as a much of mysticism, Jefferson even wrote his on translation of the bible with out any mircles, but the held that the teachings of christ as good for people to use in their lifes. The point is it wasn't what religon, it was the what God did they belive in, religon is supressive, they knew this. But they did belive their was a God. a God wroth taking time to know, though reason.  Some of the founding fathers were undoubtably Christian of various denominations. Some were outright athiests. Benjamin Franklin was a member of the Hellfire Club, an intellectual organization that scorned and opposed organized and established religions, including Christianity.

The Deist view was accepted as an argument for Liberty that was compatible with all the various founders' religious views: simply that mankind was created by some sort of divine power and was MEANT to be free.

The misconception that Deism is an offshoot of Christianity may be a result the non-Christian founders' efforts to convince the Christians that they were all on the same team.

Ironically, the idea that individuals were meant to be free was not embraced by all Christians at the time, as the Spanish Inquisition was still underway and was not officially ended until 1834.   The founding fathers were definitely Christian. 24 of the 54 who signed the Declaration of Independence were the head of seminaries. The first meeting of the Congress, on Sept. 6, 1774, started with a THREE HOUR prayer session before moving on to study four books of the Bible. Saying that they're deists totally goes against that. Why would they pray for THREE hours, which is amazing for any Christian, if they didn't believe that God had a direct connection with them? In July, 1775, when Washington became commander-in-chief, he separated the troops into regiments. Then, he said there had to be a chaplain in each one! He even said that if God doesn't help them, they won't win. He said that he hopes that all of the soldiers "endeavor as a Christian soldier." Benjamin Rush started Sunday schools and founded the first Bible study. Francis Hopkins was a choir leader and he set all of the Psalms to music. John Adams wrote his wife a letter telling her to read the 34th Psalm to her friends and parents because it had changed him and the other men as they studied it. Oh, and on that day (Sept. 6, 1774) Congress appointed a continental FAST. George Washington was even quoted, saying, "To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of a Christian." They don't sound like deists to me.  Our founding fathers were a mixture of deist and Christians. Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and George Washington were deists. All of the aforementioned names wrote in books and letters they authored an utter DISBELIEF in the bible as the word of God, they all also stated on numerous occasions their disbelief in the deity of Jesus Christ, and the trinity.

Thomas Paine even wrote a lengthy book called "The age of reason" to disprove the bible and Christianity.  The Founding Fathers only discernable religion's were Christianity, Deism and (very possibly in Benjamin Franklin's case) Atheism.

This quote from Thomas Jefferson is used in order to prove either that Jefferson was a Christian or a close facsimile: "A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. It is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus" (Thomas Jefferson to Charles Thomson, January 9, 1816). By Jefferson's careful selection of words he considered Jesus a great philosopher and counted himself a disciple of Jesus's Doctrines (in fact the document referred to above was a book Jefferson had created by eviscerating a bible in order to extract the words of Jesus alone). Jefferson also calls himself a "real" Christian. The word real is used purposefully here by Jefferson, and any scholar of Jefferson's works knows precisely why. Jefferson while a disciple of Jesus's philosophies rejected the remainder of traditional Christian Scripture (the bible). Jefferson also rejected the Conventional Christian teachings on Jesus himself. In a letter to William Short on Oct. 31, 1819 Jefferson makes this clear while speaking about Jesus:
"The establishment of the innocent and genuine character of this benevolent moralist, and the rescuing it from the imputation of imposture, which has resulted from [misconstructions of his words by his pretended votaries] artificial systems*, invented by Ultra-Christian sects, unauthorised by a single word ever uttered by him is a most desirable object, and one to which Priestly has successfully devoted his labors and learning, it would in times it is to be hoped effect a quiet euthanasia of the heretics of bigotry and fanaticism which have so long triumphed over human reason and so generally & deeply afflicted mankind."
e.g. the immaculate conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his miraculous powers, his resurrection & visible ascension, his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity, original sin, atonement, regeneration, election orders of Hierarchy etc.

(footnote Jefferson's)
Jefferson considered the basic tenets of Christianity to be "artificial systems." Here he calls these systems "Ultra-Christian", though today we recognize these doctrines as core tenets.

"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature." -- Thomas Jefferson   Our nation was built on secular model. The founders had a choice of founding our nation on a biblical model, the new Jerusalem, where Washington became the new Moses or on a secular one, the new Rome, where Washington became the new Cincinatus. If you look at our national symbols and architecture, it's pretty clear that the founding fathers chose the secular model. Washington hated going to church and was happy to stop once he left office. Our founders were men of the Age of Enlightenment. Religion was not a big deal. All this religious stuff got grafted on later, mostly by Abraham Lincoln.  I could use the following quotes from Ben Franklin to justify "my arguments" for his belief in almighty God vs "someone else's" claim that he is an atheist ("Articles of Belief "1728):
"I BELIEVE there is one supreme, most perfect Being . . . Also, when I stretch my imagination through and beyond our system of planets, beyond the visible fixed stars themselves, into that space that is every way infinite, and conceive it filled with suns like ours, each with a chorus of worlds for ever moving round him; then this little ball on which we move, seems, even in my narrow imagination, to be almost nothing, and myself less than nothing, and of no sort of consequence . . . That I may be preserved from atheism . . . Help me, O Father! . . . For all thy innumerable benefits; for life, and reason . . . My good God, I thank thee!"
Or how about this:
"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth--that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? . . . I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel . . .
In Federal [Framing] Convention, 1787, making a motion for Prayer
My advice would be to keep an open mind and search out sources that can take you as close to the original as you can get.....read the actual writtings of the Founding Fathers if possible, rather than someones interpretation of what the fathers may have ment....happy hunting
! "   Brian writes: Thomas Paine even wrote a lengthy book called "The age of reason" to disprove the bible and Christianity
and virtually all of the other names you mention wrote rather scathingly of Paine's book:
Ben Franklin wrote: I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person . . . . If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it? I intend this letter itself as proof of my friendship
John Adams wrote: 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, let the Blackguard [scoundrel, rogue] Paine say what he will
Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote to his friend and signer of the Constitution John Dickenson that Paine's Age of Reason was "absurd and impious."[7] Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration, described Paine's work as "blasphemous writings against the Christian religion."[8] John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration and mentor to many other Founders, said that Paine was "ignorant of human nature as well as an enemy to the Christian faith."[9] John Quincy Adams declared that "Mr. Paine has departed altogether from the principles of the Revolution."
Lumping these men with Thomas Paine is simply historically incorrect.
"Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon the teachings of the Redeemer of Mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent, our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian." U. S. Supreme Court 1892   I think that publicly, many of the "founders" said things in favor of Christianity, not necessarily because that was their sincere belief, but rather to endear themselves to the majority of the people who would not have voted for an outspoken non-Christian. So, an outward expression of prayer to God, even invoking Jesus, should not be construed as definitively showing that such and such a person was a Christian. If there are those who refused to believe that any of the founding fathers were not Christian, how do you explain the anti-Christian quotes by the very same fathers? Some of them may have been "Christian-esque", as in believing some of the sayings ascribed to Jesus in the Bible, claiming that they're wise, and that "original Christianity" was a revelation, but I think that's about as far as it goes. Take a look at their private quotations. I believe that there you will find a more accurate portrayal of their beliefs.   According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of deist or deism is: a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe.
I have read many articles that claim that our founding fathers including Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, and Madison were deists. Do these claims hold up to closer scrutiny?
In my research, I found none of these founding fathers fit this description. Take for example the following prayer spoken by George Washington:
…O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before Thy Divine Majesty, beseeching Thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks…Direct my thoughts, words and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate Blood of the Lamb, and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit…Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in Thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life.
These are not the words of deist.
Thomas Jefferson
While President, Thomas Jefferson closed his presidential documents with the phrase:
In the year of our Lord Christ; by the President; Thomas Jefferson.
Writing to Dr. Benjamin Rush in April of 1803, Jefferson stated:
My views…are the result of a life of inuiry and reflection, and very different from the anti-christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others...
Through the years, Jefferson may have said some odd and sometimes conflicting things, but in the end, as his actions show and as the above statement proves, he was a Christian and not a deist.
Ben Franklin
It was Ben Franklin that helped found the college that bore his name. It was dedicated as "a nursery of religion and learning" built "on Christ, the Corner-Stone."
It was also Benjamin Franklin that insisted that schools teach "the necessity of a public religion… and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others…" And don't forget that it was Benjamin Franklin that proposed a Biblical inscription for the Seal of the United States and it was he that chose from the New Testiment a verse for the motto for the Philadelphia Hospital. These don't sound like the acts of a deist.
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton stated that there were two things that made America great; Christianity and a Constitution formed under Christianity.
Just before his death, Hamilton declared to Rev. Mason and Bishop Moore that "a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of the death of Christ."
Again, these are not the words of a deist.
James Madison
Madison wrote "cursed by all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ."
Concerning the future of America, he wrote:
We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.
I think it is clear that none of these men were deists. What about the other 200 plus men that make up our founding fathers? Where any of them deists?
Abraham Baldwin was a chaplain in the Revolution. James McHenry was the founder of the Baltimore Bible Society. Rufus King helped found the Society for Anglicans. Charles Pinckney and John Langdon were founders of the American Bible Society. Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman, John Dickinson, and Jacob Broom were theological writers. The list goes on and on and does not include the many evangelical Christians who signed the Declaration of Independence or who helped frame the Bill or Rights.   The founding fathers were Christian. Christianity is the religion, specifically Protestant was the denomination/belief. They were establishing their religious freedom from the Catholic church and it's religious limitations.   In order to answer this question maybe we should remember why they sought to form the United States. They did so for "religious freedom." We are taught in our history books that they came to America and formed the USA so they could have freedom to worship GOD. They came because the government wanted to run the religion. One person answered that 24 of the 54 who signed the Declaration of Independence were the head of seminaries. The first meeting of the Congress, on Sept. 6, 1774, started with a THREE HOUR prayer session before moving on to study four books of the Bible. I believe that these men loved God, some were "Christian", some were not. The reason we ask this question is because the United States is in such a mess today. A better question to ask would be, do you think the United States is what the founding fathers inteded it to be today?   It seems that many comments have ignored the key issue regarding Christianity, the belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Without this, the person's belief (if not an athiest) rests upon God. This could include deism, Islam, Buddhism, or any of several other religions. Many of the founding fathers would not qualify as Christians, especially Benjamin Franklin as he stated his religious beliefs in his AUTObiography. The acceptance and adoption of the ethical teachings of Christ as adopting the (very similar) teachings of Buddha make one a Buddhist.
I believe that some of the above posts take Jefferson's comments about being a Christian out of context. I do not believe that he accepted Christ in the context of the resurrection or supernatural activities as his rewriting of the Bible suggests. The following quote from his Autobiography suggests that the founding fathers wanted to free this country from the suppression of any established religion, including Christianity.
"Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting 'Jesus Christ,' so that it would read 'A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;' the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination." -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography
Kevin   It is widely known (although I as a non-US citizen am surprised that no-one in this forum has mentioned it before) that many of the founding fathers were Freemasons; one of the prime principles of Freemasonry is that religion and politics are forbidden discussion topics, the greater good of humanity is far more important than differences in opinions on these two aspects. The question is therefore irrelevant, what matters is that they managed to build a free and democratic nation, regardless of any differing religious or political backgrounds they might have had.   As he states clearly in his autobiography, Franklin believed in a God. He was grateful to "divine providence" for his own fortunes in life. However, he had no time for those who merely preached morality and the need to believe. Franklin believed Man's duty is to do good to Man. Thus, he vocally and monitarily supported the establishment of ANY church, regardless of sect or religion, that taught this. It is not what people believe, but rather how they conduct themselves.
Let us remember, in our discourse of the proper place of religion in our lives, that our Founding Fathers were keenly aware of how repressive Crown and Church can be when combined in self-serving righteousness. Let us remember that these brilliant statesmen and philosophers, struggling against their European experience, had good reason for creating one of the most fundamental structures of our constitution: SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. That means freedom of as well as freedom from.
"Once the religious, the hunted, the weary, chasing the promise of freedom and hope, came to this country to build a new vision, far from the reaches of Kindgom and Pope." --John Kay, Steppenwolf   If you dedicate a little time to read the small portion of quotes by our founding fathers, along with links to more exhaustive explanations/documentaions, you will gain a much better understanding of the common misconception of their being Christians, especially by today's definition. Links at the end of the page include more quotes, explanations, and thorough evidence showing which were Deists,which were Skeptics, and why being 'politically correct' prevented unnecessary assaults by the clergy. Enjoy: The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. -- Thomas Jefferson It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism that three are one and one is three, and yet, that the one is not three, and the three not one.... But this constitutes the craft, the power, and profits of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of fictitious religion, and they would catch no more flies. The priests of the different religious sects ... dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight... The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ leveled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticism of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from it's indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power and pre-eminence. The natural course of the human mind is certainly from credulity to skepticism. Our civil rights have no dependence upon our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry. Short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind. Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. -- Thomas Jefferson I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. "But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legaends, hae been blended with both Jewish and Chiistian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." "The age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system." "Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize [hu]mankind." "My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them." --Abraham Lincoln "The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation." -- Treaty of Tripoli (1797) signed by John Adams "Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church and the private school supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate." -- Ulysses S. Grant "Mr. Lincoln was not a Christian." -- Mary Todd Lincoln In a sermon of October 1831, Episcopalian minister Bird Wilson said, Among all of our Presidents, from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism
http://www.atheism.org/~godlessheathen/Founders.HTML http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/Jefferson.htm http://paganinfo.50g.com/quotes.htm http://www.postfun.com/pfp/worbois.HTML http://www.exmormon.org/Mormon/mormon179.htm http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/franklin_steiner/presidents.HTML http://www.jackowitch.com/foundingfathersquotes.HTML http://tftb.com/deify/amhistory.htm http://home.comcast.net/~rkamlet/exploration_of_deism.htm http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Quotes.htm http://www.deism.com/thinksam18.htm http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/mashist.htm http://www.deism.com/DeistAmerica.htm http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/serpentandlion/americanstatesmen.HTML   What have the courts said about religion and our founding fathers?
In 1892 (Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457, 470) the Supreme Court stated that "this is a religious nation." The Court was clear about the historical role of religion in our society and concluded that "[t]here is an unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life from at least 1789."
In 1963 (Abington v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 212), the Court recognized that "religion has been closely identified with our history and government." The same recognition was also expressed in Zorach (343 U.S. at 313) where the Court stated that "[w]e are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being."
In the recent case of Elk Grove Unified School District et al. v. Newdow et al. decided June 14, 2004, Justice O'Connor wrote:
Michael Newdow's challenge to petitioner school district's policy is a well-intentioned one, but his distaste for the reference to "one Nation under God," however sincere, cannot be the yardstick of our Establishment Clause inquiry. Certain ceremonial references to God and religion in our Nation are the inevitable consequence of the religious history that gave birth to our founding principles of liberty. It would be ironic indeed if this Court were to wield our constitutional commitment to religious freedom so as to sever our ties to the traditions developed to honor it.
Jutice Thomas said as to whether the Pledge policy pertains to an establishment of religion:
It is difficult to see how government practices that have nothing to do with creating or maintaining [a] coercive state establishment . . . implicate the sort of liberty interest of being free from coercive state establishments.
All of these examples show that these acts do not constitute an "establishment of Religion."
Now lets take a look at the last portion of the first amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
Our Founding Fathers declared, in no uncertain terms, that Congress is not to prohibit the free exercise of religion in any way. If this is true, then how can our lawmakers, today, tell us that we can not pray in school? How can they tell us we can't speak of God at our graduation cerimonies? How can they tell us that we can't display crosses and other religious symbols across our nation? Why can't we display the Ten Commandments? Do we somehow give up our freedom of Religion every time we step into a school or government building? If so, how can this be considering the fact that the Constitution states that the government is prohibited from limiting the free exercise of Religion?
I submit to you that we can do all of these things and that this recent tide to limit the freedom of Religion is simply an effort to rewrite history.
Religious expression is protected by law. Displaying the "Ten Commandments" or any other religious symbol by a state or federal entity is protected by law. Praying at home, or in church, in public, in school, at work, in our government buildings, or anywhere else is also protected by law.   http://www.errantskeptics.org/Fifty_Five_Delegates.htm
Having not seen a clear answer to the question I propose the above link for a direct answer. It list by specific denomination the religion of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention.
Only one was clearly a "deist". Two others belonged to "Christian" denominations and were considered deists. One is unknown. That leaves 50 of the 55 to be specifically identified by "Christian" denomination.
A quick list shows Episcopalian (23 + 2 Epis/Quakers) Presbyterian (6 plus 1 Pres/Diest and 1 Presb/Epis) Congregationlist (6) Roman Catholic (2) Methodist (2) Dutch Reformed (2) DEIST (1) Ben Franklin and it is questionable by reading some of his writings as to how long he held such a view.
To name our founding fathers as "Deist and Christians" appear to give and indication of a fair mix of the two. The were overwhelmingly "Christian" to the point of many insisted no one could hold public office, with out affirming they believed in the God of the "Old AND New Testament" and that they would one day give an answer for their conduct in that office to that God. Hardly the act of a deist or athiest.
Read the documents of the founding fathers to find your answer, not just "histories" telling you what they want you to believe.
Many of the founding fathers' quotes can be found on the same web site.
http://www.errantskeptics.org/God_And_America.htm
Go to http://www.wallbuilders.com as a resource for more information. David Barton owns many actually documents from our founding fathers.   Praying in public has never been questioned, praying in schools is questioned only when the prayers are led by adults who are authority figures, which has the same power/influence issues as the ones that make "consentual" sexual relations between a teacher and a student statutory rape. It's the inequity of power, which leaves little room for disagreement or resistance, that make both the prayer and the sexual activity inappropriate between the participants.
My atheist high school teaching spouse assures me that as long as there are tests, and especially with standardized testing, there will ALWAYS be prayer in schools. The problem only comes in when the public school teacher (employee of a government entity within the United States) seems to endorse one religion over another. We are a pluralistic nation, and our founding fathers recognised that. We are not all Christians, there are Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Pagans, Shamans, Atheists... the list goes on and on. As for the beliefs of the Founding Fathers, what seems to be agreed upon is that they saw more value in a persons actions (including their taking time to write words) than in what a person professed to believe.
The problem with posting the 10 Commandments on any government owned building in the USA is that the posting of only the doctorine of one religious origin (Judeo-Christianity) is a defacto endorsement of that religion, and hence unconstitutional. Unless they're equally eager to post the doctorine of EVERY religion, no matter how minor its representation, they should not be showing favortisim for one branch of the glorious spiritual worldtree with posting the laws of one. Funny, Wicca is a growing religion in this country, but I've yet to see a single government building proudly displaying the words "An it harm none, do as thou wilt," the major tenant of members of that faith and a rewording of the Golden Rule. How about doing unto others as you would have done unto you if you were the member of the minority? Taking a walk in another's shoes for a while, that sort of thing. A few minutes of earnestly trying to see the world from another's perspective, and suddenly it doesn't matter as much who they love, what they worship, or how they vote. It matters that they're another human being, living in a time and place that shapes who they are from moment to moment. Just like the Founding Fathers were.
Of course, when the commandments are posted on judicial buildings where people go to finalize their divorices, sue one another over property disputes, etc, it reinforces that we're a nation of oxymorons, incapable of recognising irony when we see it.   First, we should clarify and make sure we're not oversimplifying things too much and point out that the Founding Fathers did not all share one single set of beliefs. However, from my reading (actual writings that is, not just quotes and snippets) and research, I think it's pretty clear that most of the important founders (Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Madison et al.) would have little in common with fundamentalist/evangelical Christians. Whether they were deists or "rational Christians" (a term Jefferson used) I cannot say, but they certainly would not be described as anything like fundy-type Christians, and in some cases it really is questionable as to whether they could accurately be labeled as Christians at all, at least in the traditional sense; for a good discussion of this, see the following link: http://www.theology.edu/journal/volume2/ushistor.htm
But to the heart of the matter, i.e., where this discussion invariably leads, there's nothing at all about Christ, Christianity, God, or religion for that matter (other than proscriptions on government's involvement with it) in the U.S. Constitution, any of which would have been easy enough for them to include had they wanted to. So no matter what their personal beliefs may or may not have been, they did want a secular government. If anyone tries to obfuscate of deny this simple fact they are either severely misguided or just plain being dishonest.   Take care in reading the information at http://www.errantskeptics.org/Fifty_Five_Delegates.htm
Most of the quotes are taken out of context and I doubt the authors of this site have ever read any of the autobiographies or other historic documents.
I believe Robert F. said it as well as anyone can. It doesn't matter what they believed, they gave us separation of church and state based on the freedom of choice. It is certain that most, if not all, believed in a Creator but did not want to circumscribe this Diety into the confines of any particular religion. As Jefferson said:
Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination. -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography
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, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802
http://northtexasdeists.dynamicdeism.org/   There's another governmental source not yet mentioned that may help. I refer to the Treaty with the Barbary Pirates that settled one of our early wars. (Referenced in the the Marine Hymn, "...to the shores of Tripoli")
Artile 11 of that Treaty says this: "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 Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries"
This treaty was signed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Now I understand that the original question pertains to the specific personal beliefs of the founders, their pesoanl beliefs mean little unless you believe they founded our country on them, which appears to be the bigger question. The above quotes shows that these three did not believe that this was the case, and signed a US Treaty to that effect, that we were founded upon Christian beliefs "...in any sense...".
I had thought that historians had long settled the debate upon their personal beliefs. That most were Deists (not Theists) by and large, though some were Atheists, further that Jefferson followed the moral and ethical teachings of Jesus as a philosopher but did not believe him to be God.   I tried to resist clicking on this particular question. I knew beforehand that it would be riddled with numerous responses form christians, shrieking and insisting that the Founding Fathers were all christians, mostly christians or should have been christians. Honestly, I know of no other religion where it adherents have such low self-esteem and so little confidence in their faith, that they feel they must lie about such things in order to validate or justify their beliefs. Having said that, I encourage many of you followers of Jesus to go to the Smithsonian, actually experience history, see it and touch it, view it, and read the actual writings of the Founding Fathers - not the edited versions that many of you have sought out and found on the websites provided by Falwell and Robertson and others. They, unfortunately, have edited and changed many of the actual writings and quotes of famous people to make them appear "christian." Most of our Founding Fathers were, as several people here have correctly stated, Deist. I myself am Deist and a lot of the reason I adopted Deist beliefs/philosophies was a result of my researching and reading the true works of our Founding Fathers, the Federalist Papers, the US Constitution, and everything leading up to the American Revolution. Other Founding Fathers were Episcopalian. And, I haven't noticed anyone point this fact out yet, but several were also Unitarian.
A few posters here suggested that Deism is an offshoot of Christianity. I had to laugh at that notion for several reasons -- the main reason being that Deism predates the alleged birth of christ. And, since Christianity began after the date of his alleged birth, and Deism existed before that... Well, you do the math. Next time, try suggesting to people that still photography is an offshoot of television. Catch my drift?
Additionally, a couple posters laughingly suggested that Thomas Jefferson was christian. Far from it. He actually rewrote his own version of the bible (a very blasphemous thing to do if one were christian)! He discarded almost all of the biblical text in favor of a few textual pages here and there from christ's philosophy only. He thought the words, teachings and messages were good, but never ever believed that christ was the "son of god." Nor did the majority of our Founding Fathers. You doubt this? Then do a Google Search on The Jefferson Bible. Read it for yourself. Jefferson and his contemporaries held a very public distrust and dislike for the christian faith and its followers. I suggest some of you set your bibles aside for a spell and read actual history text -- it's a slightly different read from tales and mythology, but it will keep you from embarrassing yourself further. Posting answers like this on a webpage (anonymously) is one thing, but I guarantee you this: you raise your hand in a college classroom and blurt out your brainwashed, christ-centric babble, you'll wish you were about an inch high squirming out of the room, once the instructor and the more well-read and knowledgeable students "correct" your educational dishevelment.   While many of these posts are excellent and thoroughly explain both sides of this issue, I think it is important to note that "Christianity" has nowhere been defined. There are many people in America today who would call themselves Christians, but who have no knowledge of true Biblical Christianity.
Whether or not the majority of the Founding Fathers were true Christians or not (and many of them were), they came to the conclusion that Christianity's principles were the best ones upon which to found a new nation. You may not believe the Bible, but the result of the Founders' decision speaks for itself. This nation has been under ONE Constitution for over 200 years! No other man-fashioned document has governed any other nation for even half as long.   Again, it's nice that many Christians want to think that the Founding Fathers actually founded the United States on Judeo-Christian values. You can quote all of the "quotes" that you like -- most of the Founding Father quotes that are Christ-centric have been edited later by Falwell, et al, and actually were never uttered by the Founding Fathers at all. But, be that as it may, if you wish to continue believing that the US was founded on Judeo-Christian values, then I urge you to consider these basic facts: 1. The Founding Fathers were not afraid at all about putting their values, thoughts, feelings and intentions in writing and backing-up their words. They were not timid. 2. Read the MOST CRITICAL DOCUMENTS from the Founding Fathers (the writings that WE KNOW were not edited by anyone) to see how they felt. The MOST CRITICAL DOCUMENTS FROM THE FOUNDING FATHERS ARE: The Declaration of Independence. The Bill of Rights. The US Constitution. 3. Once you read these MOST CRITICAL works of the Founders, the works which ACTUALLY FOUNDED THE COUNTRY, you will find that there is NO MENTION OF JESUS CHRIST. There is NO MENTION OF THE BIBLE. There is NO MENTION that the Founding Fathers founded the country on Judeo-Christian values or relied on the bible for the foundation of the United States. 4. Had they Founded the country on the values THEY WOULD HAVE MENTIONED THAT IN THE MOST CRITICAL DOCUMENTS THAT THEY FOUNDED THE COUNTRY WITH!!!! The Founding Fathers were not timid about making their feelings and their thoughts known!!
Get real, folks. You can wish and hope that the Founding Fathers were "all this and all that" but, the bottom line is, NOPE. They weren't. And the country was NOT founded on Judeo Christian values. Read those documents. Read them again and again and again until YOU UNDERSTAND THEM. Quit trying to use them to validate your religious and cult beliefs. It is not a factual, reasonable argument whatsoever!   Benjamin Franklin: " God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel" -Constitutional Convention of 1787 | original manuscript of this speech
Samuel Adams: " He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all… Our forefathers opened the Bible to all." [ "American Independence," August 1, 1776. Speech delivered at the State House in Philadelphia]
" Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity… and leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system." [October 4, 1790]
John Adams: " The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God."
Alexander Hamilton: • Hamilton began work with the Rev. James Bayard to form the Christian Constitutional Society to help spread over the world the two things which Hamilton said made America great: (1) Christianity (2) a Constitution formed under Christianity. "The Christian Constitutional Society, its object is first: The support of the Christian religion. Second: The support of the United States."
John Hancock: • "In circumstances as dark as these, it becomes us, as Men and Christians, to reflect that whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments, …at the same time all confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that God rules in the armies of Heaven, and without His whole blessing, the best human counsels are but foolishness… "
Patrick Henry: "It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here." [May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]
John Jay: " Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." Source: October 12, 1816. The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay
Thomas Jefferson: " The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man."
"Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus."
"I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."
James Madison " We've staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart."
"We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We've staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]
James Madison " We've staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all of our heart."
"We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We've staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]
• 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 the unsatisfactoriness [of temportal enjoyments] by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way. Letter by Madison to William Bradford (September 25, 1773) • In 1812, President Madison signed a federal bill which economically aided the Bible Society of Philadelphia in its goal of the mass distribution of the Bible. " An Act for the relief of the Bible Society of Philadelphia" Approved February 2, 1813 by Congress
Thomas Paine: " It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author." " The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal." "The Existence of God--1810"   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...
You find an inference to God inthe first sentence of The Declaration Of Independence. Since most of the founders were Christians, it clearly means the Christian God. The word CREATOR was used to literally be Politically Correct due to the TOLERANCE our Christian forefathers had.   "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible."
"What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ."
"To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian" [May 2, 1778, at Valley Forge]
- George Washintgon   There are many interesting conclusions that can be interpreted differently by anyone, depending on their depth of research and bias.
All I can say after reading Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson's autobiographies, biographies, and their personal correspondence, is that both are undoubtedly Deists; Jefferson could be said to be a christian Deist in that he believed in most of the teachings of Jesus but did not believe him to be divine and did not believe in miracles or the supernatural. I know some people use Franklin's belief that any religion is better than none because, as he implied to Thomas Paine (about publishing The Age of Reason), is that if people are this bad with religion, imagine how bad they will be without it. Many of the founders who were not Christian attended various Christian churches and contributed to various congregations in order to further their political asperations. Franklin himself, although he did not believe in Jesus as divine or a man-god (read the last few pages of his autobiography for more), had his own pew in one of the dominant churches in his area. Also, he contributed financially to most of the churches in his area. You can go to all the lists you want but I know that many of them represent Franklin and Jefferson in a specious manner.
The only way to really find out with accuracy is to read the autobiographies and biographies along with the individual's personal letters and related correspondence. So find a person of interest and start reading for yourself. Don't leave it to lists that someone else has compiled.
The following is a quote from Franlin's autobiography that we all should all consider:
"I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and tho' some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I esteem'd the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, tho' with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mix'd with other articles, which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serv'd principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another. This respect to all, with an opinion that the worst had some good effects, induc'd me to avoid all discourse that might tend to lessen the good opinion another might have of his own religion; and as our province increas'd in people, and new places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary contributions, my mite for such purpose, whatever might be the sect, was never refused."
The only way to be sure is to find a founding father of interest and read all that you can about his life, especially his correspondence with others and his autobiography if one exists; don't rely on biased information to base your decisions on.   Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination. -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography
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, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802
Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814   "The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." --John Adams (1735-1826)
Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination. -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography
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, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802
Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814
"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. -John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America [1787-1788].
"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have 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, 1785, Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments.
"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not." -James Madison, 1785, Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments.
"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity." --John Adams (1735-1826)
"The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles." --John Adams (1735-1826)
"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. 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 (1735-1826)
"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 (1751-1836)
"We hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth that religion, or the duty which we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The religion, then, of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and that it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate." --James Madison (1751-1836)   I looked it up as best I could some years ago on the net. There was a website, "Dead Poiticians" a genelogical site that was most helpful. Here's the list, consists of signers of the Declaration, Aticles of Confederation, and Constitution: Oh, Not listed means I couldn't find out, or like Bengamin Franklin they weren't traditional believers:
Richard Hutson Not Listed Articles Edward Langworthy Not Listed Articles Henry Marchant Not Listed Articles Edward Telfair Not Listed Articles Nicholas Van Dyke Not Listed Articles John Walton Not Listed Articles John Wentworth Jr. Not Listed Articles William Houstoun Not Listed Consitution Alexander Martin Not Listed Consitution James McClurg Not Listed Consitution Carter Braxton Not Listed Declaration Button Gwinnett Not Listed Declaration Lyman Hall Not Listed Declaration Benjamin Harrison Not Listed Declaration Thomas Heyward Jr. Not Listed Declaration Stephen Hopkins Not Listed Declaration Francis Hopkinson Not Listed Declaration Thomas Jefferson Not Listed Declaration Francis Lightfoot Lee Not Listed Declaration Richard Henry Lee Not Listed Declaration Francis Lewis Not Listed Declaration Thomas Lynch Jr. Not Listed Declaration Arthur Middleton Not Listed Declaration Lewis Morris Not Listed Declaration John Morton Not Listed Declaration Thomas Nelson Jr. Not Listed Declaration Caesar Augustus Rodney Not Listed Declaration George Ross Not Listed Declaration Benjamin Rush Not Listed Declaration Edward Rutledge Not Listed Declaration George Taylor Not Listed Declaration George Walton Not Listed Declaration Thomas McKean Not Listed Declaration, Articles John Penn Not Listed Declaration, Articles Benjamin Franklin Not Listed Declaration, Constitution Gunning Bedford Jr. Presbyterian Consitution William Blount Presbyterian Consitution William Richardson Davie Presbyterian Consitution William Churchill Houston Presbyterian Consitution Jared Ingersoll Presbyterian Consitution William Livingston Presbyterian Consitution James McHenry Presbyterian Consitution William Paterson Presbyterian Consitution Hugh Williamson Presbyterian Consitution Abraham Clark Presbyterian Declaration William Floyd Presbyterian Declaration John Hart Presbyterian Declaration Philip Livingston Presbyterian Declaration James Smith Presbyterian Declaration Richard Stockton Presbyterian Declaration Matthew Thornton Presbyterian Declaration John Witherspoon Presbyterian Declaration Joseph Hewes Quaker Declaration John Adams Unitarian Declaration   I looked it up as best I could some years ago on the net. There was a website, "Dead Poiticians" a genelogical site that was most helpful. Here's the list, consists of signers of the Declaration, Aticles of Confederation, and Constitution: Oh, Not listed means I couldn't find out, or like Bengamin Franklin they weren't traditional believers:
Abraham Baldwin Congregationalist Consitution Abraham Clark Presbyterian Declaration Alexander Hamilton Episcopalian Consitution Alexander Martin Not Listed Consitution Andrew Adams Not Listed Articles Arthur Middleton Not Listed Declaration Benjamin Franklin Not Listed Declaration, Constitution Benjamin Harrison Not Listed Declaration Benjamin Rush Not Listed Declaration Button Gwinnett Not Listed Declaration Caesar Augustus Rodney Not Listed Declaration Caleb Strong Congregationalist Consitution Carter Braxton Not Listed Declaration Charles Carroll of Carrollton Catholic Declaration Charles Cotesworth Pinckney Episcopalian Consitution Charles Pinckney Episcopalian Consitution Daniel Carroll Catholic. Articles, Constitution Daniel Jenifer of St.Thomas Episcopalian Consitution David Brearly Episcopalian Consitution Edmund Jenings Randolph Episcopalian Consitution Edward Langworthy Not Listed Articles Edward Rutledge Not Listed Declaration Edward Telfair Not Listed Articles Elbridge Gerry Episcopalian Declaration, Articles, Constitution Francis Dana Not Listed Articles Francis Hopkinson Not Listed Declaration Francis Lewis Not Listed Declaration Francis Lightfoot Lee Not Listed Declaration George Clymer Episcopalian Declaration, Constitution George Mason Episcopalian Consitution George Read Episcopalian Declaration, Constitution George Ross Not Listed Declaration George Taylor Not Listed Declaration George Walton Not Listed Declaration George Washington Episcopalian Consitution George Wythe Episcopalian Declaration, Constitution Gouverneur Morris Episcopalian Articles, Constitution Gunning Bedford Jr. Presbyterian Consitution Henry Marchant Not Listed Articles Hugh Williamson Presbyterian Consitution Jacob Broom Lutheran Consitution James Madison Episcopalian Consitution James McClurg Not Listed Consitution James McHenry Presbyterian Consitution James Smith Presbyterian Declaration James Wilson Episcopalian Declaration, Constitution Jared Ingersoll Presbyterian Consitution John Adams Unitarian Declaration John Banister Not Listed Articles John Blair Jr. Episcopalian Consitution John Dickinson Episcopalian Consitution John Francis Mercer Episcopalian Consitution John Hancock Congregationalist Declaration John Hanson Not Listed Articles John Hart Presbyterian Declaration John Harvie Not Listed Articles John Langdon Congregationalist Consitution John Lansing, Jr. Christian Reformed Consitution John Morton Not Listed Declaration John Penn Not Listed Declaration, Articles John Rutledge Episcopalian Consitution John Walton Not Listed Articles John Wentworth Jr. Not Listed Articles John Witherspoon Presbyterian Declaration Jonathan Dayton Episcopalian Consitution Joseph Hewes Quaker Declaration Josiah Bartlett Congregationalist Declaration, Articles Lewis Morris Not Listed Declaration Luther Martin Episcopalian Consitution Lyman Hall Not Listed Declaration Matthew Thornton Presbyterian Declaration Nathaniel Gorham Congregationalist Consitution Nicholas Gilman Congregationalist Consitution Nicholas Van Dyke Not Listed Articles Oliver Ellsworth Congregationalist Consitution Oliver Wolcott Sr. Congregationalist Declaration Philip Livingston Presbyterian Declaration Pierce Butler Episcopalian Consitution Richard Bassett Methodist. Consitution Richard Dobbs Spaight Episcopalian Consitution Richard Henry Lee Not Listed Declaration Richard Hutson Not Listed Articles Richard Stockton Presbyterian Declaration Robert Morris Episcopalian Declaration, Constitution Robert Treat Paine Congregationalist Declaration Robert Yates Christian Reformed Consitution Roger Sherman Congregationalist Declaration, Articles, Constitution Rufus King Episcopalian Consitution Samuel Adams Congregationalist Declaration Samuel Chase Episcopalian Declaration Samuel Huntington Congregationalist Declaration Stephen Hopkins Not Listed Declaration Thomas Adams Not Listed Articles Thomas Fitzsimons Catholic. Consitution Thomas Heyward Jr. Not Listed Declaration Thomas Jefferson Not Listed Declaration Thomas Lynch Jr. Not Listed Declaration Thomas McKean Not Listed Declaration, Articles Thomas Mifflin Lutheran Consitution Thomas Nelson Jr. Not Listed Declaration Thomas Stone Episcopalian Declaration William Blount Presbyterian Consitution William Churchill Houston Presbyterian Consitution William Clingan Not Listed Articles William Ellery Congregationalist Declaration William Few Methodist. Consitution William Floyd Presbyterian Declaration William Hooper Episcopalian Declaration William Houstoun Not Listed Consitution William Leigh Pierce Episcopalian Consitution William Livingston Presbyterian Consitution William Paca Episcopalian Declaration William Paterson Presbyterian Consitution William Richardson Davie Presbyterian Consitution William Samuel Johnson Episcopalian Consitution William Whipple Congregationalist Declaration William Williams Congregationalist Declaration   The founding fathers were a diverse group of men having varied religious ideologies that were impacted by the age of enlightenment. Many were also of the gentry and influenced by the Anglican Church, others were of humble origins that held to Presbyterian tenets, and some were Deists. However, one individual that is controversially termed as Deist was not one and that is Benjamin Franklin. In his autobiography he plainly states that he embraced it at one time but saw no use for it. He was not a Deist. Franklin was a minister in his way to his community in America. His voice was not heard in sermons but read up and down the east coast. The American public was his congregation and, in his way, Franklin taught morality, virtue and good living to the country. Franklin tried, through his words, to teach people that they could get along regardless of their religion and that doing good service to one another was doing service to God.   I would suggest actually reading Franklin's autobiography, other correspondence from and regarding him, and learning more about what a Deist is; then you would find out that Franklin is undoubtedly a Deist. He did not believe in the divinity of Jesus. He thought that, at best, he was a gifted phrophet and teacher and did find value in most of his teachings.
"...Some books against Deism fell into my hands....It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quote to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations, in short, I soon became a thorough Deist." -- Benjamin Franklin
Kevin   It is clear that there is a lot of evidence on both sides of the argument, however, actions often speak louder than words.
Remember, it was Ben Franklin that helped found the college that bore his name. It was dedicated as "a nursery of religion and learning" built "on Christ, the Corner-Stone."
It was also Benjamin Franklin that insisted that schools teach "the necessity of a public religion… and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others…" And don't forget that it was Benjamin Franklin that proposed a Biblical inscription for the Seal of the United States and it was he that chose from the New Testiment a verse for the motto for the Philadelphia Hospital.
These don't sound like the acts of a deist.   I guess you will have to accept the fact that he was a Deist from someone who has actually read Franklin's autobiography and other papers. It was no secret that Franklin gave money to the more popular churches as that was the thing to do if you wanted to gain popularity for political or business reasons. He also indicated (it is generally accepted to be Thomas Paine) that he supported religion because if people behaved this badly with religion, he could imagine how bad they would be without a carrot and stick to guide their behavior. I would suggest reading Franklin's personal writings before accepting some blurbs you have read at other places.
Kevin   Here is a link to Franklin's autobiography: http://etext.lib.Virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=Fra2Aut.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/English/modeng/parsed&tag=public∂=all
And here is a link to a Deist site because it seems that few people actually know what a Deist is: www.dynamicdeism.org   I have a great many sources, however, the one you should check out is "The Founding Fathers and Deism" by David Barton. You can find this and a lot of other great information on the subject at www.wallbuilders.com   After completing a master's degree and being well into a doctorate program, I am quite capable of critically reading and evaluating source material as this person indicates. I find Burton's articles to be very biased and lacking in reference to source material.
As a Deist, I am amazed at David Burton's ignorance of the term and what it means; I don't see any evidence of his "research" on the matter, only his own bias as to what a dictionary term may mean; not only this, but he is actually wrong in some aspects. I also find that he takes Franklin's and Jefferson's works out of context in order to make them fit his own personal needs and perspectives. This may be due to denial or his own inability to critically read source material, I do not know.
All I can suggest is to pick a particular Founding Father for research and focus on their writings and the writings of others who knew them and wrote biographies about them. I have done this on Franklin and Jefferson so I cannot speak about anyone else but I know these two to be Deists almost certainly.
Also, I am assuming you to be a Christian who grew up believing that this country was founded on Christianity and all the founders Christian. I was the same way and understand the difficulty many people have with this concept. When I started my research on these two men, I had no interest in their religious beliefs and was a lifelong Christian myself. I had a lot of trouble accepting the fact that both of these men did not accept Jesus as the savior and they did not believe him to be the Son of God. They did find the teachings of Jesus beneficial for mankind and did support SOME biblical teachings. I struggled with this for about a year and also began looking into Deism as I was not familiar with its beliefs. I can only describe my transference from Christianity to Deism as very troubling. I went through a lot of doubt before I finally realized that I would have to read about these men with an open mind, not biased by my previous religious perspectives and expectations. This is what you will have to do if you are to find out for yourself. I would suggest against reading severely biased information such as this for your main source. I do not believe that Burton's arguments would stand up in an academic examination or discussion as they are too biased and not objective enough.
If you are interested, a popular book is "Asking the Right Questions" by Browne and Keeley.  I am a Christian and have been most of my life, however, I did not grow up believing that America was founded on Christian principles. It wasn�t until a few years ago when I started researching the subject for a book that I became convenced that America was founded on the principles of the Bible.
I suppose we could debate about the religion of each founding father, howerver, I would be the first to admit that only God knows what is in each of our hearts. I believe that reguardless of the religion of each individual, there is certainly no doubt in my mind that our nation was founded on Judeo/Christian principles. If you want proof, read America�s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations by William J. Federer (Coppell, Tx: Fame Publishing, Inc.). This book contains over 2,100 quotes from nearly 700 sources highlighting America�s Christian heritage. After reading it, the Federalist Papers and many other documents, I have become absolutely convenced that ours is a nation founded on Christian principles.
Listen to what others have to say on the subject.
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), French philosopher and Statesman who visited America during the American Revolution observed:
"Moreover, almost all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same. In the United States the sovereign authority is religious, and consequently hypocrisy must be common; but there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth."
"The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live."
"There are certain populations in Europe whose unbelief is only equaled by their ignorance and their debasement, while in America one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world fulfills all the outward duties of religion with fervor."
"Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country."
Everyone interested in Church/state issues should read Alexis de Tocqueville's work, �Democracy in America.� A significant portion of this work is dedicated to the religious element of American life.
John Jay, founding father and America�s first Supreme Court Chief Justice and Co-Author of the Federalist Papers wrote:
"Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
"To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruptions of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism. "
All efforts to destroy the foundations of our holy religion, ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them. (Jedediah Morse, father of American Geography)
Benjamin Franklin Morris was a notable American historian, who in 1864 wrote "The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States." In this book, he states:
These fundamental objects of the Constitution are in perfect harmony with the revealed objects of the Christian religion. Union, justice, peace, the general welfare, and the blessings of civil and religious liberty, are the objects of Christianity, and always secured under its practical and beneficent reign. The state must rest upon the basis of religion, and it must preserve this basis, or itself must fall. But the support which religion gives to the state will obviously cease the moment religion loses its hold upon the popular mind. This is a Christian nation, first in name, and secondly because of the many and mighty elements of a pure Christianity which have given it character and shaped its destiny from the beginning. It is preeminently the land of the Bible, of the Christian Church, and of the Christian Sabbath....The chief security and glory of the United States of America has been, is now, and will be forever, the prevalence and domination of the Christian Faith.
If you ask an American, who is his master? He will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ. (Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut)
Education is useless without the Bible. (Noah Webster, father of public education in America)
The most perfect maxims and examples for regulating your social conduct and domestic economy, as well as the best rules of morality and religion, are to be found in the Bible. . . . The moral principles and precepts found in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. These principles and precepts have truth, immutable truth, for their foundation. . . . All the evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible. . . . For instruction then in social, religious and civil duties resort to the scriptures for the best precepts. (Noah Webster)
The evidence that America was founded on Christian principals is simply overwhelming. To show that I am not the only one to come to this conclusion, I have added a portion of a statement made by Supreme Court Justice Josiah Brewer on February 29, 1892 in the case of �Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States.�
Though Justice Brewer is not one of our founding fathers, his statements show that for over 100 years it was common knowledge that religion played a very important role in government.
Excerpts from that text include:
These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.
No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation.
The commission to Christopher Columbus� that �it is hoped that by God�s assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered�� The first colonial grant made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584� and the grant authorizing him to enact statutes for the government of the proposed colony provided that they �be not against the true Christian faith��
The first charter of Virginia, granted by King James I in 1606� commenced the grant in these words: ��in propagating of Christian Religion to such People as yet live in Darkness��
Language of similar import may be found in the subsequent charters of that colony�in 1609 and 1611; and the same is true of the various charters granted to the other colonies. In language more or less emphatic is the establishment of the Christian religion declared to be one of the purposes of the grant. The celebrated compact made by the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, 1620, recites: �Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith�a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia��
The fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a provisional government was instituted in 1638-1639, commence with this declaration: ��And well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union�there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God�to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess�of the said gospel [which] is now practiced amongst us.�
In the charter of privileges granted by William Penn to the province of Pennsylvania, in 1701, it is recited: ��no people can be truly happy, though under the greatest enjoyment of civil liberities, if abridged of�their religious profession and worship�� Coming nearer to the present time, the Declaration of Independence recognizes the presence of the Divine in human affairs in these words:
�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� appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions� And for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.�
�We find everwhere a clear recognition of the same truth� because of a general recognition of this truth [that we are a Christian nation], the question has seldom been presented to the courts�
There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people.
While because of a general recognition of this truth the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, it was decided that, Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law�not Christinity with an established church�but Christianity with liberty and conscience to all men.
Justice Josiah Brewer continues listing case after case in support of his statements and then concludes by stating:
The happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality.
Religion, morality, and knowledge [are] necessary to good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind.
Justice Brewer also wrote a book in 1905 called �The United States: A Christian Nation.� In it, Brewer states:
We classify nations in various ways. As, for instance, by their form of government. One is a kingdom, another an empire, and still another a republic. Also by race. Great Britain is an Anglo-Saxon nation, France a Gallic, Germany a Teutonic, Russia a Slav. And still again by religion. One is a Mohammedan nation, others are heathen, and still others are Christian nations. This republic is classified among the Christian nations of the world. It was so formally declared by the Supreme Court of the United States. But in what sense can it be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in the public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation-in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.
Again and again our founding fathers stated the importance of having a firm religious foundation for government.
I would like to encourage you to read America�s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations by William J. Federer (Coppell, Tx: Fame Publishing, Inc.) and see for yourself that our founding fathers were not only a deeply religious people but they understood that good government, liberty, and happiness could only last with a firm religious foundation. They believed that when religion is removed from government, you remove the only lasting and meaningful reference point for morality and without morality, government will degrade and collapse into tyranny.
Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, put it this way:
By renouncing the Bible, philosophers swing from their moorings upon all moral subjects. . . . It is the only correct map of the human heart that ever has been published. . . . All systems of religion, morals, and government not founded upon it [the Bible] must perish, and how consoling the thought, it will not only survive the wreck of these systems but the world itself.
Public Education in America
In 1828, after working 26 years writing �An American Dictionary of the English Language,� Noah Webster, the father of public education in America wrote in the preface of this great work:
In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed....No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.
I think it�s interesting how crime in our schools increased shortly after removing God and prayer from schools. When I was in grade school the worst things that happened were running in the halls and chewing gum in class. Then we started removing God from our lives. The further we pushed God out of our lives the worst things got. Now we have guns, drugs, and prostitution in our schools.
The New England Primer
The New England Primer was the first textbook ever printed in America. It was used to teach reading and Bible lessons in our schools until the twentieth century.
Introduced in the Boston public schools in 1690, the New England Primer was a required textbook from which every first grader learned grammar and spelling.
The book opened with the following prayer:
HOW glorious is our heavenly King, Who reigns above the Sky! How shall a Child presume to sing His dreadful Majesty!
How great his Power is none can tell, Nor think how large his grace: Nor men below, nor Saints that dwell, On high before his Face.
Nor Angels that stand round the Lord, Can search his secret will; But they perform his heav'nly Word, And sing his Praises still.
Then let me join this holy Train; And my first Off'rings bring; The eternal GOD will not disdain To hear an Infant sing.
My Heart resolves, my Tongue obeys, And Angels shall rejoice, To hear their mighty Maker's Praise, Sound from a feeble Voice.
The 1900 reprint of the New England Primer described, within its pages, the impact of the book by stating:
The New England Primer was one of the greatest books ever published. ...It reflected in a marvelous way the spirit of the age that produced it, and contributed, perhaps more than any other book except the Bible, to the molding of those sturdy generations that gave to America its liberty and its institutions.
Also contained in its pages were several prayers including the Lord�s prayer, the Christian Creed, Bible verses, hymns, the Catechism, and of course lessons on grammar and spelling.
This clearly shows, with out a doubt, that for over 200 years our schools and our government had no problem with prayer, hymns and Bible verses in our schools.
Summary
Let me make an important distintion here. I don�t believe that our founding fathers were trying to form a Christian government or one that was run exclusively by Christians. Certainly not. They saw what could happen in the name of religion in Europe. Instead, what our founding fathers wanted was a government that was friendly to all religions and built upon the moral and ethical foundation of the Bible.
The Bible provided the moral anchor without which government would become hopelessly lost in a sea of ideas and beliefs. They believed that government should not interfere in religion in any way, but because the government was built on a Biblical foundation, it should never turn its back on that foundation and always be supportive of it.
Our founding fathers believed it was perfectly acceptable to teach the Bible and pray in our schools as they did for over 200 years. It was perfectly acceptable to acknoledge God by opening Congress and the Supreme court with prayer as they themselves did.
Our founding fathers would have applauded the phrase �In God we trust� on our money and �One nation under God� in our pledge of allegiance. There is no doubt that our founding fathers would have supported the placement of Justice Roy Moore's 2.6-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments in the state building in Alabama. They would have applauded each of these acts because none of these acts constitute the establishment of a church or a religion but simply acknowledge the religious foundation upon which our government was built.
 
The founding fathers' of the USA were predominantly Christian. However, some, like Thomas Jefferson, were Deists.
 
The founding fathers were not christians because if they were they would of put god in the constitution.
Thanks for the feedback!

Were any of the founding fathers Jewish or another non-Christian religion?

To the best of my knowledge none of the major leaders of the Revolution were Jewish. It would be very interesting to know what the thoughts of the Jewish population of the col

Is it true that the Founding Fathers had no opinions concerning the role of religion in the new nation?

No. They were all very religious men, although in different ways. Some of them came from states with established religions and thought that was a proper way for a state to be

Why were religion and freedom of speech of great importance to the Founding Fathers when they wrote the First Amendment?

 Answer   The "Bill of Rights" can be found here:   http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.billofrights.html       Congress shall make no la

What factors motivated the Founding Fathers' attitude to religion in the emerging American republic?

  Answer   Many of the founding fathers were from England or had ancestors from England. At the time, England was having battles over religion. The Catholics and the

What religions were the founding fathers?

Answer Denominations of Founding Fathers   All have been either Deists or Christian. Many people falsely believe that most of the Founding Fathers were Christian. They cite

What did the founding fathers really say about religion?

Patrick Henry, who is called the firebrand of   the American Revolution,is still remembered for   his words, '"Give me liberty or give me death."'   But in curr

Why did the founding fathers include freedom of religion in the constitution?

The Puritans originally came to America in order to practice their religion freely. Freedom did not exist in many of the colonies however, mostly RI. Many people were exiled f

Who is known as the founding father of the Jewish religion?

Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will

Who was the founding father of the Muslim religion?

Muslims do not believe that there was a "founding father" to their religion, because to them, no one created or invented their religion. Rather, they believe that Islam is a r

Why did the Founding Fathers write in freedom of religion?

They did not want the Federal government to set up a single established church for the United States, such as the Church of England was in England. States were initially permi