Were America's Founders Deists?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Revmitchell, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. Revmitchell

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    Joseph Story served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1811 to 1845, and in his commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, he wrote:

    Now, there will probably be found few persons in this, or any other Christian country, who would deliberately contend, that it was unreasonable, or unjust to foster and encourage the Christian religion generally, as a matter of sound policy, as well as of revealed truth. In fact, every American colony, from its foundation down to the revolution, with the exception of Rhode Island, (If, indeed that state be an exception,) did openly, by the whole course of its laws and institutions, support and sustain, in some form, the Christian religion; and almost invariably gave a peculiar sanction to some of its fundamental doctrines. And this has continued to be the case in some of the states down to the present period, without the slightest suspicion, that it was against the principles of public law, or republican liberty.13

    More Here
     
  2. exscentric

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    It is my understanding that quite a number were but then what do I know :thumbs:
     
  3. Bro. James

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    Not sure what tag was applied in the eighteenth century, but G. Washington appears to have worshipped GAOTU, The Big "G" which appears on the symbols of the F&AM.

    The Christian Religion was very ambiguous on July 4, 1776.
    Still is--contrary to John 14:6.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  4. poncho

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    I believe that a lot of them were.
     
  5. Magnetic Poles

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    Certainly not all of them, but many of them were. The American Revolution was a product of the philosophies of The Age of Enlightenment. Those Deists were not atheists by any means, but they were not Christians in any modern sense of the word either.
     
  6. poncho

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    Mostly I think the American revolutionaries were tired of their leaders (as in the King and his minions) acting as though they were above the law. Not so today though...we eagerly see and accept "strong leaders" as those who act as though they are above the law. Case in point, G.W. Bush and his "unitary executive".

    We seemed to have brought ourselves right back to where we started. Living under the rule of men instead of the rule of law.
     
  7. Rippon

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    Benjamin Franklin was a Deist. Thomas Jefferson was one as well. Jefferson called himself a Unitarian though. He railed against the "demoralizing dogmas of Calvin" as much as Skypair does here.
     
  8. Bro. James

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    I learned a lot about Deists on: www.deism.com. The article called: George Washington and Deism is a real eye opener.

    This is more evidence that the term "Christian" has a lot of definitions--many not including: a follower of Jesus. Nothing new.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  9. Martin

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    Many of the founders where unorthodox in their "Christian" beliefs. Men like Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams held to beliefs that no Bible believing Christian of their day or ours would believe. Sadly too many people have allowed this issue to become an emotional political debate instead of a discussion of what these men actually said and did. The fact is that many of them would have been 100% comfortable with the assertions of the Jesus Seminar.
     
  10. Magnetic Poles

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    With all their human shortcomings, these men created a noble and enduring framework for democratic rule. Jefferson's words still ring true through the years, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," yet he himself owned slaves. The ideals of these great thinkers and statesmen surpassed their times and even the way many of them lived their own lives. Yet here we are, 219 years after the ratification of the Constitution of the United States and 232 years since the Declaration of Independence, and the nation stands, with all its faults and foibles, as the best hope and example to the world of what free men and women can accomplish.
     
  11. poncho

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    Jefferson wanted to include this in the Declaration of Independence.


    He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivatng and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of INFIDEL powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people for whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another.


    SOURCE...



    Doesn't sound like a man at ease with slavery at all does it?
     
    #11 poncho, Jul 4, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2008
  12. JustChristian

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    http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/summer97/secular.html

    A few Christian fundamentalists attempt to convince us to return to the Christianity of early America, yet according to the historian, Robert T. Handy, "No more than 10 percent-- probably less-- of Americans in 1800 were members of congregations."

    The Founding Fathers, also, rarely practiced Christian orthodoxy. Although they supported the free exercise of any religion, they understood the dangers of religion. Most of them believed in deism and attended Freemasonry lodges. According to John J. Robinson, "Freemasonry had been a powerful force for religious freedom."

    George Washington

    Much of the myth of Washington's alleged Christianity came from Mason Weems influential book, "Life of Washington." The story of the cherry tree comes from this book and it has no historical basis. Weems, a Christian minister portrayed Washington as a devout Christian, yet Washington's own diaries show that he rarely attended Church.

    Washington revealed almost nothing to indicate his spiritual frame of mind, hardly a mark of a devout Christian. In his thousands of letters, the name of Jesus Christ never appears. He rarely spoke about his religion, but his Freemasonry experience points to a belief in deism. Washington's initiation occurred at the Fredericksburg Lodge on 4 November 1752, later becoming a Master mason in 1799, and remained a freemason until he died.

    To the United Baptist Churches in Virginia in May, 1789, Washington said that every man "ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience."

    After Washington's death, Dr. Abercrombie, a friend of his, replied to a Dr. Wilson, who had interrogated him about Washington's religion replied, "Sir, Washington was a Deist."

    Thomas Jefferson
    Even most Christians do not consider Jefferson a Christian. In many of his letters, he denounced the superstitions of Christianity. He did not believe in spiritual souls, angels or godly miracles. Although Jefferson did admire the morality of Jesus, Jefferson did not think him divine, nor did he believe in the Trinity or the miracles of Jesus. In a letter to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787, he wrote, "Question with boldness even the existence of a god."

    John Adams
    Adams, a Unitarian, flatly denied the doctrine of eternal damnation. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, he wrote:

    "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved -- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"

    James Madison
    Called the father of the Constitution, Madison had no conventional sense of Christianity. In 1785, Madison wrote in his Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments:

    "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."

    "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."

    Benjamin Franklin

    In an essay on "Toleration," Franklin wrote:
    "If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. These found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here [England] and in New England."

    Dr. Priestley, an intimate friend of Franklin, wrote of him:
    "It is much to be lamented that a man of Franklin's general good character and great influence should have been an unbeliever in Christianity, and also have done as much as he did to make others unbelievers" (Priestley's Autobiography)

    Thomas Paine
    This freethinker and author of several books, influenced more early Americans than any other writer. Although he held Deist beliefs, he wrote in his famous The Age of Reason:
    "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my church. "
    "Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. "

    The U.S. Constitution
    The most convincing evidence that our government did not ground itself upon Christianity comes from the very document that defines it-- the United States Constitution.

    If indeed our Framers had aimed to found a Christian republic, it would seem highly unlikely that they would have forgotten to leave out their Christian intentions in the Supreme law of the land. In fact, nowhere in the Constitution do we have a single mention of Christianity, God, Jesus, or any Supreme Being. There occurs only two references to religion and they both use exclusionary wording. The 1st Amendment's says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . ." and in Article VI, Section 3, ". . . no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

    Thomas Jefferson interpreted the 1st Amendment in his famous letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in January 1, 1802:
    "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."

    The Declaration of Independence
    Many Christians who think of America as founded upon Christianity usually present the Declaration as "proof." The reason appears obvious: the document mentions God. However, the God in the Declaration does not describe Christianity's God. It describes "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." This nature's view of God agrees with deist philosophy but any attempt to use the Declaration as a support for Christianity will fail for this reason alone.

    Treaty of Tripoli

    Joel Barlow, U.S. Consul General of Algiers

    "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 tranquillity, 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."

    Patrick Henry, for example, proposed a tax to help sustain "some form of Christian worship" for the state of Virginia. But Jefferson and other statesmen did not agree. In 1779, Jefferson introduced a bill for the Statute for Religious Freedom which became Virginia law. Jefferson designed this law to completely separate religion from government. None of Henry's Christian views ever got introduced into Virginia's or U.S. Government law.

    On this 4th of July I (BaptistBeliever) proclaim that we have a great nation. This experiment, as it was called, was based on FREEDOM, religious and otherwise. The concept of freedom and the concept of being ruled by a particular religion cannot be reconciled with each other. The founders of America realized that and therefore did not found this nation based on any particular religion but on freedom of religion for all. Those who would try to change historical facts to match their own views attempt to subvert the foundations of America and to weaken its source of strength which is individual freedom to think, believe, and speak in line with their own beliefs and not those of the current ruling faction.

    Personally, I'm glad that I had the freedom to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and that this is in no way dependent upon the beliefs of the "founders of our country." George Washington, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson were GREAT PATRIOTS but they did not express my own personal religious beliefs. I thank (my) God that I had the freedom in America to believe in Him as I saw fit.



    "They all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet a single individual, of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point"
    -Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835
     
  13. Martin

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    Jefferson is hard to read on the slavery issue. On one hand he writes things like what you quoted but on the other hand he includes slaves in his farm book along side pigs, cows, and chickens. He makes no visible difference between them. As far as his listing is concerned they are treated the same. Even Tom, the child of Sally Hemmings that many believe that Jefferson fathered, was listed in the same manner. This is just one reason that historian Joseph Ellis titled his biography of Jefferson "American Sphinx".
     
    #13 Martin, Jul 4, 2008
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  14. Revmitchell

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    Dr. M. E. Bradford of the University of Dallas conducted a study of the Founders to look at this very important question. He discovered the Founders were members of denominations as follows: twenty-eight Episcopalians, eight Presbyterians, seven Congregationalists, two Lutherans, two Dutch Reformed, two Methodists, two Roman Catholics, and three deists.
     
  15. Revmitchell

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    Patrick Henry boldly declared:

    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.
     
  16. Revmitchell

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    George Washington issued a National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation on October 3, 1789:

    Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor... that we then may all unite unto him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country... And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions... and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord, to promote the knowledge and practice of the true religion and virtue, and the increase of science.
     
  17. Revmitchell

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    James Madison, founding father, known as the "chief architect of the Constitution," on June 20, 1785, wrote in regard to the relationship between religion and civil government.

    "Religion is the basis and Foundation of Government.... 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 mankind for self government; 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."
     
  18. windcatcher

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    AMEN and Amen!:applause:
     
  19. Magnetic Poles

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    Like many quotes of this type, they are untrue. This one is straight from the discredited David Barton. Pure and simple, lies to support a revised "history" of the U.S.

    CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

    However, this post coming from one of those who put words in my mouth, why am I not surprised that he would do the same to President Madison.
     
  20. JustChristian

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    To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island

    [Newport, R.I., 18 August 1790]

    The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

    This expresses George Washington's policy of freedom of religion for all, not the establishment of a state based on one religion.


    The Thanksgiving Proclamation

    Introduction

    On 25 September 1789, Elias Boudinot of Burlington, New Jersey, introduced in the United States House of Representatives a resolution "That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness."

    The House was not unanimous in its determination to give thanks. Aedanus Burke of South Carolina objected that he "did not like this mimicking of European customs, where they made a mere mockery of thanksgivings." Thomas Tudor Tucker "thought the House had no business to interfere in a matter which did not concern them. Why should the President direct the people to do what, perhaps, they have no mind to do? They may not be inclined to return thanks for a Constitution until they have experienced that it promotes their safety and happiness. We do not yet know but they may have reason to be dissatisfied with the effects it has already produced; but whether this be so or not, it is a business with which Congress have nothing to do; it is a religious matter, and, as such, is proscribed to us. If a day of thanksgiving must take place, let it be done by the authority of the several States." [1]

    Citing biblical precedents and resolutions of the Continental Congress, the proponents of a Thanksgiving celebration prevailed, and the House appointed a committee consisting of Elias Boudinot, Roger Sherman, and Peter Silvester to approach President Washington. The Senate agreed to the resolution on 26 September and appointed William Samuel Johnson and Ralph Izard to the joint committee. On 28 September the Senate committee reported that they had laid the resolution before the president. [2] Washington issued the proclamation on 3 October, designating a day of prayer and thanksgiving.


    Six Historic Americans
    George Washington
    by John E. Remsburg

    During the presidential campaign of 1880, the Christian Union made the startling admission that, of the nineteen men who, up to that time, had held the office of President of the United States, not one, with the Possible exception of Washington, had ever been a member of a Christian church.


    Was Washington a church member? Was he in any sense a Christian? In early life he held a formal adherence to the church of England, serving, for a time, as a vestryman in the parish in which he resided. But this being merely a temporal office did not necessitate his being a communicant, nor even a believer in Christianity. In his maturer age he was connected with no church. Washington, the young Virginia planter, might, perhaps, with some degree of truthfulness, have been called a Christian; Washington, the Soldier, statesman and sage, was not a Christian, but a Deist.

    This great man, like most men in public life, was reticent respecting his religious views. This rendered a general knowledge of his real belief impossible, and made it easy for zealous Christians to impose upon the public mind and claim him for their faith. Whatever evidence of his unbelief existed was, as far as possible, suppressed. Enough remains, however, to prompt me to attempt the task of proving the truth of the following propositions:

    1. That Washington was not a Christian communicant.
    2. That he was not a believer in the Christian religion.

    Was Washington A Communicant?
    Washington was not a communicant. This fact can be easily demonstrated. A century ago it was the custom of all classes, irrespective of their religious beliefs, to attend church. Washington, adhering to the custom, attended. But when the administration of the sacrament took place, instead of remaining and partaking of the Lord's Supper as a communicant would have done, he invariably arose and retired from the church.

    The closing years of his life, save the last two, were passed in Philadelphia, he being then President of the United States. In addition to his eight years' incumbency of the presidency, he was, during the eight years of the Revolutionary war, and also during the six years that elapsed between the Revolution and the establishment of the Federal government, not only a frequent visitor in Philadelphia, but during a considerable portion of the time a resident of that city. While there he attended the Episcopal churches of which the Rev. William White and the Rev. James Abercromble were rectors. In regard to his being a communicant, no evidence can be so pertinent or so decisive as that of his pastors.

    Bishop White, the father of the Protestant Episcopal church of America, is one of the most eminent names in church history. During a large portion of the period covering nearly a quarter of a century, Washington, with his wife, attended the churches in which Bishop White officiated. In a letter dated Fredericksburg, Aug. 13, 1835, Colonel Mercer sent Bishop White the following inquiry relative to this question:

    "I have a desire, my dear Sir, to know whether Gen. Washington was a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal church, or whether he occasionally went to the communion only, or if ever he did so at all. ... No authority can be so authentic and complete as yours on this point."

    To this inquiry Bishop White replied as follows:

    "Philadelphia, Aug. 15, 1835.

    "Dear Sir: In regard to the subject of your inquiry, truth requires me to say that Gen. Washington never received the communion in the churches of which I am the parochial minister. Mrs. Washington was an habitual communicant.

    ... I have been written to by many on that point, and have been obliged to answer them as I now do you. I am respectfully.

    "Your humble servant,

    "WILLIAM WHITE."
    (Memoir of Bishop White, pp. 196, 197).

    More information on this topic can be found at:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/john_remsburg/six_historic_americans/chapter_3.html
     

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