Were U.S. Founding Fathers Christian?

Pop quiz! Take out a clean sheet of paper and a number 2 pencil.

True or False: The Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776

      All signatures were not inked until August 2.

True or False: George Washington was the first president of the United States

      Actually, John Hanson of Maryland was the first president under the Articles of Confederation. His official title was “President of the United States in Congress Assembled.” Washington was actually the ninth president.

True or False: Benjamin Franklin invented the Franklin stove

      Although it bears Franklin’s name, David Rittenhouse was the creator of the famous stove.

True or False: The Founding Fathers of The United States were Christians who formed a government based on godly principles.

That’s a more complex answer. The “revisionist left” would like to make them secular and the “religious right” would like to make them saintly. Let’s take a look at some of the more prominent Founding Fathers’ beliefs . . . in their own words.

But first, for the sake of argument, let’s use the Apostle’ Creed as a common description of orthodox Christian doctrine:

      I believe in God, the Father almighty,
      creator of heaven and earth.
      I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
      He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
      and born of the virgin Mary.
      He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
      was crucified, died, and was buried.
      He descended into hell.
      On the third day he rose again.
      He ascended into heaven,
      and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
      He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
      I believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the holy catholic Church,
      the communion of saints,
      the forgiveness of sins,
      the resurrection of the body,
      and the life everlasting. Amen.

John Adams

The second President (or tenth if you consider John Hanson the first) wrote to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813:

      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.

However, Adams is often quoted as saying, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!” However, here’s the complete quotation in an April 19, 1817, letter to Thomas Jefferson:

      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.

As a Unitarian, Adams flatly denied the doctrine of eternal punishment, believing all would eventually enter heaven. (Many Unitarians reject the Trinity and most accept all religions as valid expressions of faith.) But being a good Unitarian, he was certainly open to the teachings of Christ.

      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 (Letter to F.A. Van Der Kemp, December 27, 1816).

During Adam’s administration, the Senate ratified the 1797 Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli, which states in Article XI that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.” Some view this as “a smoking gun” that America was not founded as a Christian nation, while others argue that it was simply a concession to the Muslim nation (when the treaty was renegotiated eight years later, Article XI was dropped).

Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams organized the Boston Tea Party and served as Governor of Massachusetts, a delegate to the Continental congress, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

In his 1772 work, The Rights of the Colonists, Adams wrote:

      II. The Rights of the Colonists as Christians.

      The right to freedom being the gift of the Almighty…The rights of the colonists as Christians…may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutions of The Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.

In his Last Will and Testament he wrote:

      Principally, and first of all, I resign my soul to the Almighty Being who gave it, and my body I commit to the dust, relying on the merits of Jesus Christ for the pardon of my sins.

Benjamin Franklin

In his autobiography, Franklin describes himself as “a thorough Deist.” “I began to be regarded, by pious souls, with horror, either as an apostate or an Atheist.”

According to a Deist publication, a Deist is “One who believes in the existence of a God or supreme being but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature and reason.” Deists reject the Judeo-Christian accounts of God as well as the Bible. They do believe that God is eternal and good, but flatly reject having a relationship with Him through Christ.

Franklin certainly believed in the providence of God. In his famous speech to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on June 28, 1787:

      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… If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground unseen by him, is it probable an empire could arise without his aid? I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building not better than the builders of Babel.

Just five months before his death, he wrote to Dr. Stiles, the President of Yale, who had questioned Franklin about his faith:

      I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe; that he governs it by his Providence; that be ought to be worshipped; that the. most acceptable service we can render to him is 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 of 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 his system of morals and his religion, as be left them to us, the best the world ever saw, or is like to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it.

Alexander Hamilton

The Episcopalian authored many of the Federalist Papers, signed the Constitution, and became the first Secretary of the Treasury. In an April 1802 letter to James A. Bayard, Hamilton proposed The Christian Constitutional Society:

      In my opinion, the present constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banner bona fide must we combat our political foes, rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provided for amendments. By these general views of the subject have my reflections been guided. I now offer you the outline of the plan they have suggested. Let an association be formed to be denominated “The Christian Constitutional Society,” its object to be first: The support of the Christian religion. second: The support of the United States.

Hamilton was shot and killed by Aaron Burr in a duel on July 12, 1804. His last dying words reportedly were:

      I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.

Patrick Henry

Best known for his “give me liberty or give me death” speech on March 23, 1775, he became the first governor of Virginia.

One of his most famous quotations, cannot be verified, although it’s used by many Christian ministers: “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!” It’s not found anywhere in his recorded writings or speeches.

However, here’s a verified quotation from a letter to his daughter dated August 20, 1796:

      Amongst other strange things said of me, I hear it is said by the deists that I am one of the number; and indeed, that some good people think I am no Christian. This thought gives me much more pain than the appellation of Tory; because I think religion of infinitely higher importance than politics; and I find much cause to reproach myself that I have lived so long, and have given no decided and public proofs of my being a Christian. But, indeed, my dear child, this is a character which I prize far above all this world has, or can boast.

And in his will:

      This is all the inheritance I give to my dear family. The religion of Christ will give them one which will make them rich indeed.

John Jay

One of the authors of the Federalist Papers and first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Jay wrote to Rev. Uzal Ogden, on February 14, 1796:

      I have long been of opinion that the evidence of the truth of Christianity requires only to be carefully examined to produce conviction in candid minds. . . .

And in an April 23, 1811, letter to John Bristed, April 23, 1811, he wrote:

      While in France . . . I do not recollect to have had more than two conversations with atheists about their tenents. The first was this: I was at a large party, of which were several of that description. They spoke freely and contemptuously of religion. I took no part in the conversation. In the course of it, one of them asked me if I believed in Christ? I answered that I did, and that I thanked God that I did.

Thomas Jefferson

The writer of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States wrote to Charles Thomson in 1816:

      I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus; it is a paradigm of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. 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.

Jefferson was a Deist who respected Christ’s teachings but rejected His divinity, His miracles, and His resurrection. In a letter to William Short dated April 13, 1820, he wrote:

      I am a Materialist.

      Among the sayings and discourses imputed to [Jesus] by His biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same Being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore to Him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of His disciples. Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great . . . corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus.

In separating Jesus divine and human natures, Jefferson wrote to John Adams, January 24, 1814 that the divine aspects of Christ were “the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.”

And so he compiled The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted Textually from the Gospels. Jefferson simply cut out anything of a supernatural or miraculous nature and so his Bible ends:

      Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden; and in the garden, a new sepulcher wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus, And rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.

George Washington

The first President’s faith is a bit harder to pin down.

Many Christian writers and commentators point to Washington’s twenty-four-page manuscript book, titled, Daily Sacrifice. It was found in April 1891 among a collection of Washington’s papers in his confirmed handwriting when he was about the age of twenty. In it he prays:

      Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God & guide this day and forever for his sake, who lay down in the Grave and arose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

      . . . in and for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered upon the cross for me; for his sake, ease me of the burden of my sins, and give me grace that by the call of the Gospel I may rise from the slumber of sin into the newness of life.

      Let me live according to those holy rules which thou hast this day prescribed in thy holy word; make me to know what is acceptable in thy holy word; make me to know what is acceptable in thy sight, and therein to delight, open the eyes of my understanding, and help me thoroughly to examine myself concerning my knowledge, faith and repentance, increase my faith, and direct me to the true object Jesus Christ the way, the truth and the life, bless O Lord, all the people of this land, from the highest to the lowest, particularly those whom thou has appointed to rule over us in church & state. continue thy goodness to me this night. These weak petitions I humbly implore thee to hear accept and ans. for the sake of thy Dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

In his Speech to Delaware Indian Chiefs on May 12, 1779, Washington said:

      You do well to wish to learn our arts and our ways of life and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.

However, during his presidency (1789-1797) and in his later life, Washington is not recorded referring to Jesus Christ and rarely to God. He preferred titles such as “the Divine Author of our blessed Religion,” “Almighty Being,” “Providence” and “Grand Designer” (all terms from Deist beliefs).

Washington also used the title “Supreme Architect” (a Freemasonry term of which he became a devout member, served as the head of the original Alexandria Lodge No. 22, and presided over the laying of the U.S. Capitol in a Mason apron).

According to Bishop White, Washington’s pastor for nearly 25 years at the Protestant Episcopal Church of America, as well as Washington’s adopted daughter Nelly Custis-Lewis, the President would leave the service before communion was served. (The Eucharist or Holy Communion is considered an essential part of salvation for Catholics and for many members of liturgical churches.)

Lewis however defended her step-father’s faith in a letter:

      I never witnessed his private devotions. I never inquired about them. I should have thought it the greatest heresy to doubt his firm belief in Christianity. His life, his writings, prove that he was a Christian. He was not one of those who act or pray, “that they may be seen of men” [Matthew 6:5]. He communed with his God in secret [Matthew 6:6].

      Thomas Jefferson was less charitable:

          [Washington] had never, on any occasion, said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Christian religion, and they thought they should so pen their address as to force him at length to disclose publicly whether he was a Christian or not. However, he observed, the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly, except that, which he passed over without notice” (Jefferson’s Works, Vol. iv., p. 572).


      So, were the Founding Fathers Christians?

      The Founding Fathers certainly included men who believed in some kind of a supreme being or designer, but not everyone would subscribe to the Apostles’ Creed.

      Three things do seem clear to me:

      First, we must always check our sources before making any claim—or passing one on.

      Both revisionists and the religious right have tried to make the Founding Fathers fit their ideology. It gives neither side of the debate any credibility when quotations are found to be fictitious or grossly out of context.

      For instance, I’ve seen articles proclaiming that Jefferson claimed to be “a real Christian” while conveniently avoiding his opinion that belief in Christ’s divinity was “dung” (see contexts above).

      Second, we must be careful with labels, especially “Christian.”

      One author claims that 51 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence held a “Christian worldview.” He doesn’t go on, however, to define what he means by Christian worldview. Would Jefferson and Franklin, who admired Christ’s teachings, be included in the 51?

      And third, we should be grateful that the Founding Fathers—whatever they believed—were so intent on making religious liberty a right for those of us who do subscribe to the Apostles’ Creed and those who don’t.

          Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute threepence only of his property for the support of any one establishment may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever? (James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, June 20, 1785.

      © Copyright 2003 James Watkins


      I am a subscriber to the Apostles’ Creed (I’ve had a “subscription” since second grade). I would love to document that the most prominent Founding Fathers were orthodox Christians.

      However, I’m also a journalist who is committed to being an OAF (Objective, Accurate, and Fair), so I have only included quotations where I could find at least two collaborating reliable sources.

      So this essay continues to be a work in progress. If you have a relevant quotation from one of the Founding Fathers regarding his faith or find an error, please email me with at least two reliable sources. Thanks!

      Related post

      A Great and Terrible Nation by Christianity Today‘s Mark Galli

43 Responses

  • So, I’m commenting-as you requested. I don’t know how qualified I am to comment on websites, but I did notice that you are missing an ‘s’ on the word visitor(s) on your Home or About page- Also, once the page is operational, will people be able to click on the picture of a book, to buy it?

  • jameswatkins says:

    Thanks, Dale! I’ll make the correction. And when you click the book cover you’ll go the the browse and buy section where you can buy. (Now I just need to figure out why the home page go to the “Were U.S. Founding Fathers Christian?”)

  • Diana Baldwin says:

    I really like this article.

    Every time I hear the contention that our founding fathers were all Christians, I groan inside. I would love to believe that too – but Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are at least two perfect examples that contest that idea. And as for wolves in sheep’s clothing – there must thousands of examples of those.

    People are complex, and their journey can be lengthy – life is not static and faith can easily turn into doubt. Any of us can lose our way at some point.

    The words of the Apostle’s Creed not only serve to demonstrate the standards of Christian belief – but as a ‘life-preserver’ when we begin to waver and lose the courage of our convictions.

  • Thank you Jim for an excellent article. It will help inform my work tomorrow. It is good to understand the nuances.
    God bless you, Kelvin

  • Jon Hilderbrand says:

    Great article, Mr. Watkins. It is hard to find as clear and level-headed a treatment of this subject as you have presented here. I have lived my entire life surrounded by very conservative people, most of whom I love dearly. So you can imagine the consternation and gnashing of teeth whenever this topic is broached and I have a slightly different viewpoint from my brethren (and even “fathren and mothren”!). I tend to echo what you have written here, and I am henceforth and forevermore cast into the company of liberals, revisionists, and Auburn fans (even though I do not follow college football at all!). I have found that nuance is not a fundamentalists strong suit, be they from the left or right, but I think I’ll make multiple copies of this to hand out when the need arises.

    God bless you, sir. The Creed does and always has given me goose-bumps; truly beautiful and succinct, but powerful words. Thanks for printing it.

    Jon Hilderbrand

  • Leanna says:

    Article much appreciated. In my scant free time I piddle at correcting inaccuracies on Wiki, and since July 4th have been working on righting the overwhelming omission of Judeo-Christian faith from Wiki’s record of the United States’ earliest days. However right now I’m needing solid secular sources of some of those quotes above. All those “Writings of George Washington,” “Writings of Thomas Jefferson” etc – are those reliable sources? Apparently some quotes attributed to them are fabricated. I need to know which sources are reliable and genuine, and which aren’t. Perhaps you can offer some guidelines.

    • jameswatkins says:

      Hi Leanna, try to find the primary (original) sources–not secondary sources which are quoting the primary source. Good luck with a very worthy project.

      • Paula says:

        Using primary sources is exactly what we responsible journalists do. I only ask for grace if I’m found to have been in error and would “print” a retraction or correction when necessary. Thanks for a great article. I have a problem with the contention that our nation was ‘founded’ by Christian men. For most, it seems that when we speak from one extreme or the other, we are simply feeding our need to feel good about who these men were.

  • Doug says:

    How do you explain all the Christian symbolism in the government buildings and structures. For instance, the ten commands on the Supreme Court?

    • jameswatkins says:

      As my article points out, many of the founding fathers were Christians, Deists, and men with general Judeo-Christian beliefs, so the many symbols are a natural result of their beliefs. However, our founders were not all what many would categorize as “Christian.”

      • JAYNE says:

        James, I would disagree with your statement that ” our founders were not all what many would catergorize as Christian” Your article states Jefferson ” 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.” One does not have to prescribe to a “religion” to be a Christian.. following the principles of Jesus, which it seems that Jefferson believed in, makes one Christian as opposed to Catholic or another organized religion. Franklin “Franklin certainly believed in the providence of God. In his famous speech to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on June 28, 1787” again, this does not state that he believed in the Catholic church or any other organized religion, however, he did believe in GOD. This country was founded by Christian men and women who left England to escape among other things the forced religion of England, not the principles of Christianity. This is why this country in our Constitution does not allow for the government to set ONE religious belief for our country.

        • Anthony E. Hooker says:

          In the strictest biblical sense a person can not be a Christian unless they accept the Deity of Christ. Jefferson thought the teachings of Jesus were the best he had seen, but he believed Jesus was just a man. Franklin said he was not sure about Jesus Deity. Only God could take the sin of every human and pay that debt. Jesus had to be God, and for us to be born again we have to believe he was God in the flesh.

          • MMC says:

            …”Why sayest thou me good??? There is only one that is good, and that is God.”
            Therefore jesus was not “God” as certaion people think he was.
            Jefferson was sort of right.

          • Many people do point to that verse as an argument that Jesus never claimed to be God. I believe it’s a rhetorical question as Jesus did claim to be God in flesh. He claimed to be I AM, the Hebrew name for God (John 8:58), claimed to forgive sins (Luke 7:48) and offer eternal life (John 8:24) and accepted worship from his followers (John 20:28). In John 14:9, he answers a disciple who wants to see God: “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?”

            I’d invite you to continue seeking exploring this topic. Here’s a helpful link: Is Jesus God?

          • Mahatma Muhjesbude says:

            While the Marxist progressives and the theocratic right wing political elements fight to the death (of our Country) over whether or not most of the Founding-Framers were practicing Christians, the Secular Libertarian framework of our national governing is becoming a casualty of these nascent ‘holy wars’.

            Because it doesn’t really matter at all what ‘belief’ system, philosophy, or cultural predisposition the visionary men who formatted the American Laws of the Land cared about in their personal lives! As long as they had the personal Freedom to enjoy it and weren’t persecuted for their philosophies.

            The issue here that screams for appreciation is simply one of misrepresented origins of our Nation’s Supreme Law of The LAND. Which is, in end result, a MAN-Made Constitution. NOT god’s or any biblical statutes.

            The Truth is that most persons of the day were predisposed to Christian religionism in one ‘organizational form or another in sectarian compromise. That alone, or course, disqualifies the entire validity of the ‘faith based Christian belief sytem’ in terms of being an objective rational foundation for any culpability of Secular (non-believers in respect) for being a basis for any importance given to how many Founders were of Christian dispostion. All the higher institutions of learning at the time were Vaticanist/Catholic/Christian/seminary universities.
            After all, if Christians themselves can’t agree as to what are the facts, and what is not reality of their ‘belief’, then how can they expect anybody else besides brainwashed sycophants to ‘believe’ unless relinquished to delusional interests themselves? Again, emphasis on the ‘reality’ factor in a social paradigm constrained by organic physical material in a three dimensional world.

            So when early America was becoming populated, most of its inhabitants were, indeed, of some type of organized or patronizing ‘Christian’ persuasion. Therefore, it can honestly be objectively stated that Christians were of ‘foundational’ predominance in the nascent development and growth of our Nation.

            However, at some point, honest, reasonably objective men of Egalitarian social predisposition, Religion not withstanding, recognized historically the primary insidious problem with the inevitable expansion of religionism as a theocracy as the defined natural progression of its evangelical nature.

            So these Founders/Framers, who were departed from ethnic or cultural origins devised a paradigm of social authority and government NOT formulated on theocracy and subject to the notorious historic corruption and deleterious forces of religion, but a system that provided full individual enjoyment of particular individual human belief and faith based thinking in theirl lives in the new social governing system.

            But did not allow theocracies to exercise overall government control for the obvious historical lessons.. Therefore American governing authority was based on Secular Egalitarianism, Not theocratic Judeo-Christian Authority. Put another way. our Constitution for social governing WAS NOT, once and for all, founded on anything at all to do with organized theocracies. Period. In fact, very quite the opposite. It was directly mandated in the 1st Amendment that ‘Congress SHALL ;make no laws respecting any religion.’ Also, PERIOD!

            So you can argue all day that this ‘country was founded’ on Christianity, and depending upon your interpretation of what that means, you could, perhaps, not be completely disingenuous when stating that, and you even be not entirely irrelevent making the observation that a majority of Framers were exposed to and understood Christianity so therefore ‘had’ to be Christians, but in the reality of life that means nothing, is simplistic, and ridiculous in conclusion regarding our Nations state of Authority.

            Because the United States Constitutional Law of the Land and Bill of Rights has nothing to do with religious authority. IT IS, AND WILL REMAIN SECULAR LAW OF THE LAND!

            So any religionists who fanatically or otherwise pursue the theocratic agenda through politics and purpose oriented organizational efforts are anathema to a society really founded in Liberty and Justice and equity and NON-enslaving individual Freedom…FOR ALL?

            It’s really THAT simple.

        • Alton Talley says:

          I have read all that has been posted so far. I find it all very informative and interesting. However, Mr. Watkins and others whom have replied here, although I’m only a nurse with no of your education there are a few points I like to make, and yes, I’m a born-again Christian. The first problem I have with many comments is that many are basing the qualification of a Christian by the standard of the Aposltes Creed. Although it is a beautiful text, it is also was written and used by the Catholic Church and most of its subsidiary (for lack of a better term at this moment) religions.

          There are many Christian belief systems (not religions) that do not use the text as their creed. Rather take the Bible as their creed, believing that it is the absolute Word of God and believe that every word is true and taken as fact, unless the Bible tells that it is an allegory or story used to get a point across.
          Secondly, no one except for God and the individual can know a persons heart and soul. Look at Washington, in his early years he professed himself a believer in Christ, however as he got older we don’t hear that as much, no one knows why. Maybe because of his political position and what he and the others wanted to accomplish, giving others the right to worship as they see fit, was so others could find Christ in their own way and not feel pressured to do it because he was.

          My last comment, is being s Christian is not about belonging to any religion or following a creed, but about a relationship with Christ, not saints or a human who believe he speaks for God on earth, because frankly men make mistakes all the time, but about believing in Jesus Christ is the Son Of God, what He did for us on the Cross and that He rose from the dead. It’s like my old pastor use to tell us, “religion is mans attempt to reach God, Christ is Gods way of reaching men.”

          As great as finding what’s believed to be actual writings is, things can be forged, faked or rewritten to change ones perspective on things.

          I apologize if I’m off, but like I said I’m no scholar, just a layperson whose done a lot of reading and studying on my own, and FYI, because of my age it’s done through research of books and journals, not the Internet. I’ve found its sad that so many believe something simple because they saw it on the net.

        • Jeff barber says:

          Well said! God didn’t create religion. Man did! If you believe it as written in John 3:16 . then as a Christian you read and follow the teachings in the bible. Yea must be born again!

      • I believe they were clearly believer of the biblical truth of God, and as all who find true faith in God. We all by enlarge part struggle, due to outside influences. Peer pressures, from many side personal, political, and academic, these compromises usually result. This is the scary truth that as believer who understand the scriptures, faith itself is not possible less connected daily with our creator’s word. And losing traction due to sciences, evolutionary creative minutia pseudo-intellectual theory, come false doubts. Jesus himself said we must die to ourselves, and take on the faith of the gospel message. That we are set apart, for God’s ways are not of this world. Be ye not deceived. The wisdom of man is foolishness separate by his words. It appears at their later years, returned to their first love repenting and glorified God as servants do, preparing to meet their maker. This is the only evolution of man worth mentioning. Our struggle to stay sanctified for our before the True and living Creator of all things that were once good. Till we fall away and make a mess of it.

  • Don Plessel says:

    I believe it would be true to state that the United States was founded on Christian Values and Beliefs. 27 of the 56 had seminary degrees. The theory of separation of church and state has nothing to do with having religious beliefs or prayer or the 10 commandments in public/government buildings or schools. It is so the government can’t impose it’s religious views on the populous.

  • Pam bailey says:

    My son in law is a minister, and a school math teacher., he is not stupid, just mis- informed. Several times ( at least a hundred) he has mentioned the Christian values of our founding fathers and my son , who is a history buff, and I cringe.. I believe most of them were legalistic, much as the publicans were in Christs day, they knew the law and followed it to the letter, but it did not get them into heaven. These men allowed us freedom of religion. This leaves our country open for us to worship as we please without fear of repercussion. Thank you for all the leg work as I believe if you are going to make a truth in the pulpit, you had better know your history.

  • Katherine Miller says:

    Thank you James for this wonderful article…AND…
    I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair at the “I’m intolerant” video. I will be sharing this with my large family.
    Thanks be to God for your gifts. I wish I could educated others as well as you can.
    Keep up the God work! And God’s blessings (the Apostles Creed God).
    P.S. Out of curiosity (for I am writing on a correlated subject), can I ask if you have any particular organized religious affiliation and what the name of it is? You can send the answer directly to my email if you prefer.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Katherine. And as far as “organized religion,” I’m not sure how organized my denomination is, but I have found the Wesleyan Church to have a very high view of Jesus and the Bible, plus it has a history of championing the “least” of these: slaves, women, trafficked people, etc. I like that about it.

      • Paula says:

        Being a member of an “organized” religious group (denomination) isn’t a bad thing. In today’s culture, too many people have been burned by what they have been taught or heard is “organized religion.” Seeing the Truth over the part of religion that seems to be so-called organized is what’s important, in my opinion. I for one, need a local body–a community of saints–with whom to share my experience of worship. A question I regard as important, even over the creed, which is written by men, is from Jesus Himself: “Who do you say that I am?” (I AM)

  • Ieshea says:

    After reading your article and comparing it to the bigger world view,I don’t think the question should be “were they christian” but if they were followers of Christ especially as the viewpoint of being a christian or being a follower of christ has changed so much in the intervening years.Also seeing how much religion has changed since they “founded” this country,would they even recognize the perception in which these quotes would be taken?

  • Warren says:

    Thanks, Jim. Great way to show the nuances. There is, however, a cultural aspect to the founding fathers that I believe has as much to do with the Judeo-Christian ethic upon which our country was founded. The Holy Bible has been the most printed book during each of the eras of history, at least by any comments about it I have ever read, and no, I didn’t “research” this. However, if one is to look at what book was available to most of the colonies’ citizens it would have been the Bible. Citizens learned to read from it and from Samplers that included scripture in them. With that much familiarity with the Bible and virtually none from any other religion, is there no wonder that the Judeo-Christian ethic prevailed, Catholicism notwithstanding?

  • Thank you for the great post. I wish I had read it when you wrote it. After reading and listening to famous preachers and popular Christians, I believed America had a Christian heritage. In numerous books, I read the founding fathers were Christians and they instilled the beliefs in the constitution.

    As I read the quotes, I realized these are now the beliefs of most Americans as per recent surveys. I have written two articles on that. The most recent is this one.


  • Ray Kershaw says:

    While I’m glad you stuck with quotes you can trust, even these quotes are limited. Washington, like Solomon, appears to have strayed from his original strongly held beliefs. Since Solomon was the “wisest man”, it tells you how incomplete we are compared to God (Jesus). One thing is certain, “Christian” or not, they were certainly affected by Christian teachings and belief. Let’s call Jefferson a non-Christian, he still believed in the philosophy or principles of Jesus. Do you think the constitution was influenced by Chrisitian beliefs? You’d have to be mentally imcompetent to say it wasn’t. As someone else pointed out, if you follow Christian principles you’ll also benefit from God’s promises even if you don’t believe in Jesus as God. Since all of Jesus apostles also connected with Paul, Jefferson’s blindness to Paul’s authenticity also demonstrates he had weaknesses – probably pride. He also overlooked John’s admonition that anyone who denies that Jesus was God’s son is a false prophet. To repeat, whether all of the “founding fathers” were Apostle’s creed believers, they were most certainly influenced by the Jesus of the bible, even Jefferson.

  • Lorne Stepaniuk says:

    I do Believe it is safe to say that the Founding Fathers believed in the christian traditions and that America was founded in the Christian tradition.

  • Agnostic says:

    The Forefathers if they were alive today would be intelligent enough to follow the top archeologists especially in Israel that are showing the bible is not true by any means. The ideas from the bible are all stolen from some where else and this is why archeology can not find most of the people places and rituals claimed by the bible to have existed in the places and time frames given. Not opinion fact. And not to mention that American archeologists are proving that the Christian history we follow about the indigenous peoples of the Americas is complete lies as well.

  • Shannon says:

    I really enjoyed the common sense approach in this article. I think most can agree that our founding fathers all believed in a higher power, with varying opinions on worship and theology (much like today!). It shows in their ability to rely on divine providence for guidance while eshewing a belief that all should be able to worship as they see fit. Undeniably, this is the foundation of our great country. Thanks for an informed peek into some of their thoughts!

  • Becky says:

    I agree with you Shannon.I found myself in a debate with my brother in law who is a staunch liberal who told me our country was not founded on Judeo Christian principles. I already knew some of the key founding fathers were questionable to say outright their Christians like Franklin who I understood was not, but feel there is a lot of evidence pointing to the facts that our country in general was founded on Christian beliefs or in God. Why do we have In God we Trust on our money, or until recently people had to swear on the holy bible their testimony was truth. Ten commandments in court houses, etc.. Our money and symbols don’t say in Mohammed we trust, etc.. Unfortunately my brother in law flat out wouldn’t listen to my argument, and sadly we couldn’t have a logical debate on finding the truth.

  • whether the founding fathers were
    Christians makes no difference. God does not have grandchildren. Each of us must be born again through faith in the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  • Billy M. Taylor says:

    Excellent article. Many in the U.S want to interpret history and the holy scriptures according to political correctness and current cultural thinking, espoused by those who want to rewrite history and change long standing cultural values.

  • Rick Suitor says:

    Brothers and sisters, we may dispute the question “is our country founded on Christianity?” Let me remind you that is doesn’t matter if we believe it to be true or not. Christianity is here to stay, and its influence will continue to impact our nation, and leadership, for the rest of time. Christianity is the largest religion in the world, but more importantly, it is the staple that reinforces hope, faith and charity. Jesus Christ exemplified love, compassion, and sacrifice for human kind. Many millions of men, women, boys and girls are better human beings because of their faith in Jesus Christ. I am sure our forefathers couldn’t help to be influenced by the Bible, and their relationship with Jesus Christ. John 20:31, confirms who Jesus was, and His place at the right hand of the Father. Jesus said that everyone is welcome at my Father’s table; all colors, all sexes, all faiths, and all cultures.

  • James Adams says:

    I think the more important question is, were they Christians at the time of our countries creation. And secondary were they at the time of the writings of our earliest freedom documents. I would say, YES.

  • C. Hud says:

    Very good article. I’m surprised that it wasn’t mentioned that Jefferson also had a Qu’ran. So, was he also influenced by that book and its teachings as well? Did knowledge of the Bible and the Qu’ran play a part in regards to religious freedom in the United States? I would love to see this aspect included as well.

    • Thomas Jefferson did apply religious freedom to Muslims, often called Mahometans at the time. In the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, he wrote that protection of religious rights extended to “the Jew and the gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan.” Jefferson did own a Koran, but I can’t find any documentation of his opinion upon it.

  • I am so glad I found an article that speaks the truth of how things need to change.


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