Important Announcement

See here for an important message regarding the community which has become a read-only site as of October 31.

 
Post Reply
Page 1 of 33  •  1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 33 Next
Switch to Forum Live View The Founding Fathers, Christianity, and religions influence on American Government.
10 years ago  ::  Apr 24, 2008 - 8:33PM #1
tvalladon
Posts: 10
My interest here is to establish an open dialog between members of different faiths regarding whether the founding fathers where Christian, how many were Christian, how many were NOT Christian and if this in any way influences the recent stance that America is a Christian country.

I am long winded so please excuse that. I am not interested so much in opinion but fact and would request that anyone contributing reference your source material in its original form, I do not want to see sound bites that can easily be taken out of context.

Please keep this thread on topic and lets all be civil, I am not questioning the religions, just its influence on America as we were and as we have become.

I feel the first step would be to establish a base of who the founding fathers were and people can be added to the list or removed as needed, to start this list I recommend the signers of the Declaration of Independence:

* John Adams
* Samuel Adams
* Josiah Bartlett
* Carter Braxton
* Charles Carroll
* Samuel Chase
* Abraham Clark
* George Clymer
* William Ellery
* William Floyd
* Benjamin Franklin
* Elbridge Gerry
* Button Gwinnett
* Lyman Hall
* John Hancock
* Benjamin Harrison
* John Hart
* Joseph Hewes
* Thomas Heyward, Jr.
* William Hooper
* Stephen Hopkins
* Francis Hopkinson
* Samuel Huntington
* Thomas Jefferson
* Francis Lightfoot Lee
* Richard Henry Lee
* Francis Lewis
* Philip Livingston
* Thomas Lynch, Jr.
* Thomas McKean
* Arthur Middleton
* Lewis Morris
* Robert Morris
* John Morton
* Thomas Nelson, Jr.
* William Paca
* Robert Treat Paine
* John Penn
* George Read
* Caesar Rodney
* George Ross
* Benjamin Rush
* Edward Rutledge
* Roger Sherman
* James Smith
* Richard Stockton
* Thomas Stone
* George Taylor
* Matthew Thornton
* George Walton
* William Whipple
* William Williams
* James Wilson
* John Witherspoon
* Oliver Wolcott
* George Wythe

For my first target I would like to take the ever famous Benjamin Franklin who is quoted as giving the following account of his religious beliefs:


"My parents had early given me religious impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the dissenting way. But I was scarce fifteen, when, after doubting by turns of several points, as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's lectures. 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 quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough deist"- Benjamin Franklin, "Autobiography,"p.66 as published in *The American Tradition in Literature,* seventh edition (short), McGraw-Hill,p.180


Franklin is also credited with the following when speaking of his pastor the Rev Mr. Whitefield:


"He used, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard."- Benjamin Franklin, from Franklin's Autobiography


So unless someone wishes to argue the fact I believe that Franklin can be marked as a Deist and not a Christian. I will update the list if someone does not speak up in defense of the fine Mr. Franklin.

Would someone like to chime in on another of these gentlemen regarding their faith?

Thank you.

Quick Reply
Cancel
10 years ago  ::  Apr 26, 2008 - 2:52AM #2
colossians3_12
Posts: 419
Leland has every right to feel that way, but I don't see that his personal belief, however movingly expressed, has any bearing on the issue.  And I don't personally find any difficulty at all in "consider[ing[ our system of government without considering the Founders' faith and God's sovereignty" -- especially since they so carefully divorced their faith (or lack of it) from the foundational documents of the republic they created out of whole cloth.

Leigh
Quick Reply
Cancel
10 years ago  ::  Apr 26, 2008 - 5:07AM #3
tvalladon
Posts: 10
[QUOTE=colossians3_12;457384]And I don't personally find any difficulty at all in "consider[ing[ our system of government without considering the Founders' faith and God's sovereignty[/QUOTE]

I have to agree with you, I would like to make this a logical discussion. I personally feel that the Founding Fathers were very careful in separating their religious beliefs from the establishment of government. I believe that a lot of this has to do that they were all of mixed religions.

A good point of reference in this would be to perhaps compare Thomas Jefferson who is considered to be Deist to Charles Carroll who is considered to be Catholic.

One thing that I would like people to attempt to do is establish the religion of the person they decide to research without looking at sites who might have a personal agenda, this can be done by locating writings of this person and looking for clues and proof in those writings. Though I have seen Jefferson referred to as Deist in many places I intend to ignore what they say and do my own research.

--Terry Valladon
Quick Reply
Cancel
10 years ago  ::  Apr 26, 2008 - 2:31PM #4
nancyflorencecarlson
Posts: 170
50 of the signatures on the constitution are from freemasons I don't know much about freemasons but I have heard rumors.
Quick Reply
Cancel
10 years ago  ::  Apr 26, 2008 - 9:12PM #5
Sacrificialgoddess
Posts: 9,496

nancyflorencecarlson wrote:

50 of the signatures on the constitution are from freemasons I don't know much about freemasons but I have heard rumors.



What rumors?

Dark Energy. It can be found in the observable Universe. Found in ratios of 75% more than any other substance. Dark Energy. It can be found in religious extremists, in cheerleaders. To come to the conclusion that Dark signifies mean and malevolent would define 75% of the Universe as an evil force. Alternatively, to think that some cheerleaders don't have razors in their snatch is to be foolishly unarmed.

-- Tori Amos
Quick Reply
Cancel
10 years ago  ::  Apr 27, 2008 - 3:30AM #6
laurajeankarr
Posts: 9
I have to say that any background information from Focus on the Family is tainted information.

Of course Newdow refused to get off the narrow topic and that's because they were there for an open forum debate on a specific topic and not to cover Leland's personal faith.

Really, if Leland puts his God above paper then the entire Focus on the Family group need to take their lawyers and lobbyiests out of the government arena and stop trying to focre laws that will respect their organization more.

Okay, I'm done on that. Sorry about the tangent but I feel a bit passionate about people not seeing what Focus on the Family really is and using them for a source.

Next up, I'll return to the OP and research Josiah Bartlett. Anyone else going to tackle the list?

Laura Jean Karr
www.simpleabnormality.com
Quick Reply
Cancel
10 years ago  ::  Apr 27, 2008 - 7:02AM #7
Ithilien
Posts: 1,597
Yes...Focus on the Family, Dobson's "brainchild," certainly isn't any source that I would ever rely on for unbiased information.  Ahem.  ::: shudders :::

And dagnavit--someone grabbed Josiah Bartlett!  (I"m a _West Wing_ fan, and that was "President Bartlet's" namesake...)  That's okay...little time to research right now, anyway.  I'll follow along, for now.

Also, just in case anyone's interested, Steve Waldman (the founder of Beliefnet) has recently published a book called _Founding Faith_ about some of these very issues, and there's a bnet group (sorry slow at the moment) about some of these things.  The group can be found here:  click me.

--Kj
Quick Reply
Cancel
10 years ago  ::  May 04, 2008 - 7:29PM #8
Sacrificialgoddess
Posts: 9,496

J.Fenimore Cooper wrote:

Well, just before the Founders signed the Constutution in Article VII, they all agreed with Unanimous Consent "in the year of their Lord" 1787. So I'd say they were in fact Christians or why would they have signed that document that way ?





Because it was the legal language of the time?  Hell, I think it's still the legal language of the time.  Someone else will have to clarify that for me.  It's still unclear to me how that means squat.

Dark Energy. It can be found in the observable Universe. Found in ratios of 75% more than any other substance. Dark Energy. It can be found in religious extremists, in cheerleaders. To come to the conclusion that Dark signifies mean and malevolent would define 75% of the Universe as an evil force. Alternatively, to think that some cheerleaders don't have razors in their snatch is to be foolishly unarmed.

-- Tori Amos
Quick Reply
Cancel
10 years ago  ::  May 04, 2008 - 7:29PM #9
Sacrificialgoddess
Posts: 9,496

J.Fenimore Cooper wrote:

Well, just before the Founders signed the Constutution in Article VII, they all agreed with Unanimous Consent "in the year of their Lord" 1787. So I'd say they were in fact Christians or why would they have signed that document that way ?





Because it was the legal language of the time?  Hell, I think it's still the legal language of the time.  Someone else will have to clarify that for me.  It's still unclear to me how that means squat.

Dark Energy. It can be found in the observable Universe. Found in ratios of 75% more than any other substance. Dark Energy. It can be found in religious extremists, in cheerleaders. To come to the conclusion that Dark signifies mean and malevolent would define 75% of the Universe as an evil force. Alternatively, to think that some cheerleaders don't have razors in their snatch is to be foolishly unarmed.

-- Tori Amos
Quick Reply
Cancel
10 years ago  ::  May 04, 2008 - 9:33PM #10
TPaine
Posts: 10,308

J.Fenimore Cooper wrote:

Well, just before the Founders signed the Constutution in Article VII, they all agreed with Unanimous Consent "in the year of their Lord" 1787. So I'd say they were in fact Christians or why would they have signed that document that way ? Also, Thomas Jefferson admitted that he was a Christian in a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush. He never admitted to being a Deist though from every thing he said one would assume that he was. Of course for a Deist to believe in Divine Providence doesn't make any sense. And both Jefferson and Franklin mention (Divine Providence) God's involvment in the affairs of men.

                                                                                                                        Coop



Coop,
The expression "In the name of our Lord" was the common way of dating documents in the 17th century. If the Constitution was intended to be a Christian document, why is there no mention of God or Jesus in the body of the work? Also, if the Convention was interested in promoting religion, why did they adjourn rather than vote on Edmund Randolph's motion, seconded by Franklin to begin their sessions with prayer? Before you attempt to argue that religion was important in the Convention, I suggest you read Madison's Debates In The Federal Convention Of 1787 which is the only record of the proceedings.
Because Jefferson tried hard tho keep his religious beliefs private, it is hard to put a label on him. Based on what writings there are in which he mentioned religion, I would submit that he was a Unitarian in the 18th and early 19th century concept of the term. If you are going to use a quote of his from his letter to Dr. Rush to claim that he was a Christian, at least have the courtesy to not take the quote out of context. What Jefferson said was, "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 he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other." The entire text of the letter can be found here: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl153.htm
If Jefferson was a Christian, why did he take a razor to the New Testament, cutting out everything about the virgin birth, the miracles, and the resurrection? Why did he write to his nephew, Peter Carr, in 1787;  "Religion. Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object.  In the first place divest yourself of all bias in favour of novelty & singularity of opinion.  Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion.  It is too important, & the consequences of error may be too serious.  On the other hand shake off all the fears & servile prejudices under which weak minds are servilely crouched.  Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion.  Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.  You will naturally examine first the religion of your own country.  Read the bible then, as you would read Livy or Tacitus.  The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy & Tacitus.  The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature does not weigh against them.  But those facts in the bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces.  Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from god.  Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature in the case he relates." The entire text of the letter can be found here: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl61.htm

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture."-- Thomas Paine: The Crisis No. V (March 21, 1778)
Quick Reply
Cancel
Page 1 of 33  •  1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 33 Next
 
    Viewing this thread :: 0 registered and 1 guest
    No registered users viewing
    Advertisement

    Beliefnet On Facebook