The Lady Speaks

A Christian Nation?

A great many of the Founders of the United States were not Christians, but Deists. They didn't believe in the Christian god, but believed in a God – the God of Nature, God of Enlightenment, God of Reason, etc. They believed some divine force was at work in the universe, and many believed in God and his Son, but not in the trappings of Christianity.

From the literal beginning of our nation, a division between government and religion was made.

From God and the Founders in Newsweek:

America's first fight was over faith. As the Founding Fathers gathered for the inaugural session of the Continental Congress on Tuesday, September 6, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Thomas Cushing, a lawyer from Boston, moved that the delegates begin with a prayer. Both John Jay of New York and John Rutledge, a rich lawyer-planter from South Carolina, objected.

Their reasoning, John Adams wrote his wife, Abigail, was that "because we were so divided in religious sentiments"-the Congress included Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and others -"we could not join in the same act of worship." The objection had the power to set a secular tone in public life at the outset of the American political experience.


The Founders, however, resolutely refused to evoke sectarian-specifically Christian-imagery: the God of the Declaration is largely the God of Deism, an Enlightenment-era vision of the divine in which the Lord is a Creator figure who works in the world through providence.

The Founding Fathers rejected an attempt to rewrite the Preamble of the Constitution to say the nation was dependent on God, and from the Lincoln administration forward presidents and Congresses refused to support a "Christian Amendment" that would have acknowledged Jesus to be the "Ruler among the nations."

Thomas Jefferson is the best known example. From his writings, he made it abundantly clear that a person's faith was something private and personal, solely between him and his chosen God. Jefferson, despite all reports to the contrary, believed Christianity was just about the worst thing that could have happened to the teachings of Christ.

He even went so far as to create his own New Testament – literally cutting apart Bibles printed in English, French, Latin and Greek – removing all references to miracles, angels, and supernatural events, re-organizing verses, and leaving what he described as the 'distilled essence' of Christ.

First, the immense arrogance of such a task – to assume he could recognize the 'real' words and events of Christ's life and ministry from the 'chaff', and then re-organizing the New Testament as he saw fit! Does this sound like the act of a devoted Christian? Hardly.

Though he is often cited as an example of a 'Christian' founder, because of his use of the word 'God' in his many writings, the truth is that Jefferson didn't subscribe to Christian orthodoxy – in fact, he said that religious leaders of his time worried about his becoming President, and he understood their fear as he had 'sworn eternal hostility' to any form of tyranny over men's minds.

Jefferson himself equated religous leaders with tyrants because they required blind loyalty and subservience at the expense of rational thinking. And Jefferson prized rational thinking and scientific process above all else.

Through Jefferson's numerous letters and essays, we get a much clearer picture of the man and his belief system. In a letter, he once said that he was no member of any organized religion, and believed he was the only member of his particular faith.

Here are a couple sites with more in-depth information: Early America Review and an essay by Stephen Morris from 1995.


April 24, 2006 - Posted by | Christianity, Constitution, First Amendment, Government, Religion


  1. “tyranny over men’s minds.”

    Indeed! Very nice post PA! Very nice! I was glad to see you had your own blog. Thank you.

    Comment by thepoetryman | April 24, 2006 | Reply

  2. Respected Sir/ Madam,
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    And we faithfully keep the word.
    Thanking you Madam /sir
    Waiting for your reply in favor of us.
    Rev Praveen Varma
    Andhra Pradesh

    Comment by PRAVEEN VARMA.G | August 9, 2006 | Reply

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