American Government and the Christian Faith

A source of constant debate in contemporary society is the role of religion, specifically Christianity, in the public sphere. Was our nation founded on Christian principles? Or was it meant to be a completely secular institution. If you listen to the voices of the Founding Fathers, it clear what their perspective was. Consider just a few quotes in this regard:

Statements of the Founding Fathers on Christianity and America

George Washington
“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
~ The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

John Adams
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”
~ Adams wrote this in a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776.

Thomas Jefferson
“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; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.”
~ Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.

James Monroe
“When we view the blessings with which our country has been favored, those which we now enjoy, and the means which we possess of handing them down unimpaired to our latest posterity, our attention is irresistibly drawn to the source from whence they flow. Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good.”
~ Monroe made this statement in his 2nd Annual Message to Congress, November 16, 1818.

John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
“While we give praise to God, the Supreme Disposer of all events, for His interposition on our behalf, let us guard against the dangerous error of trusting in, or boasting of, an arm of flesh … If your cause is just, if your principles are pure, and if your conduct is prudent, you need not fear the multitude of opposing hosts. What follows from this? That he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy of his country.”
~ Sermon at Princeton University, “The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men,” May 17, 1776.

Patrick Henry
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, 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.” ~ The Trumpet Voice of Freedom: Patrick Henry of Virginia, p. iii.

John Hancock
“Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement.”
From A Proclamation For a Day of Public Thanksgiving 1791, given by Hancock as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Benjamin Rush
“I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament.” ~ The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush, George W. Corner, editor, pp. 165-166

Noah Webster
“The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles… This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.”
~ Noah Webster, History of the United States, p. 300

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