Beliefs of the Founding Fathers - Quotes from our Founding Fathers on Religion
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Beliefs of the Founding Fathers - Quotes from our Founding Fathers on Religion
Information gathered by the American Policy Roundtable
 

George Washington
Source -  Christianity As An Influence On The Founding Fathers by John A. Sterling
Belief -
Episcopalian

"I now make it my earnest prayer the God would have you and the State over which you preside, in His holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field; and, finally, that he would be most graciously pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation."  June 8, 1783 in a letter to the governors of the states on disbanding the army. 

 

Thomas Jefferson
Source -  America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, ed. William J. Federer, FAME publishing, Inc. 1994
Belief -
Episcopalian

"God who gave us life gave us liberty.  And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?  That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?  Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."  1781, Query XVIII of his Notes on that State of Virginia

"My views...are the result of a life of inquiry 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..."  April 21, 1803 in a letter to Dr. Benjamin.

“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
Belief -
Episcopalian

"Religion is the basis and Foundation of Government." June 20, 1785

"It is not the talking but the walking and working person that is the true Christian."  In a manuscript on the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, Madison makes this statement. 

"We have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being, whose power regulates the destiny of nations." March 4, 1809 Inaugural Address

“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]

 

Benjamin Franklin
Belief -
Episcopalian

"Here is my Creed.  I believe in on God, the Creator of the Universe.  That He governs it by His Providence.  That He ought to be worshipped. 

That the most acceptable service we render to Him is in doing good to His other Children.  That the soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its conduct in this.  These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever Sect I meet with them.

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, is the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see." March 9, 1790 in a letter to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University

"Heavenly Father, May all revere Thee, And become They dutiful children and faithful subjects.  May thy Laws be obeyed on earth as perfectly as they are in Heaven.  Provide for us this day as Thou hast hitherto daily done.  Forgive us our trespasses, and enable us likewise to forgive those that offended us.  Keep us out of temptation and deliver us from Evil."  Franklin's own version of the Lord's Prayer

“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

 

John Adams
Belief -
Unitarian

"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 Paine say what he will; it is Resignation to God, it is Goodness itself to Man." July 26, 1796, in his diary.

"I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world.  It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen." December 25, 1813 in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

"The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion..." November 4, 1816 in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation." December 27, 1816 in a letter to Judge F.A. Van der Kemp.  

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity. . . . I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature. (taken from a letter to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813)

Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion at all!!!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell.

Jesus is benevolence personified, an example for all men… The Christian religion, in its primitive purity and simplicity, I have entertained for more than sixty years. It is the religion of reason, equity, and love; it is the religion of the head and the heart


For more information on quotes from these founding fathers and many others, please see: America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, ed. William J. Federer, FAME Publishing, Inc. 1994.

 
Resources

Listen to The Public Square

Listen To: Day 1: Christianity and the Constitution with John Eidsmoe

Listen To: Day 2: Christianity and the Constitution with John Eidsmoe

Ten Tortured Words - Interview with Stephen Mansfield

 

Books

Order Christianity and the Constitution, by John Eidsmoe

FREE U.S. Constitution

Defending the Declaration, by Gary Amos

Samuel Adams - Father of the American Revolution, Mark Puls

Quotes

Taken from America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, ed. William J. Federer

Beliefs

Taken from Religious Affiliation of the  Founding Fathers of the United States of America, Adherents.com 

Resources

Rediscovering American History - Was America founded on Biblical principles?

 

 

 

 

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