We must be aware that people have written on this subject, unfortunately many were empowered by liberal or conservative biases. So I will try to keep this fair and simple. After much reading, I conclude that the Founding Fathers of our great nation were men who believed in a supreme being that should be obeyed and respected. Whether or not they were Christians may depend on the definition of “Christian.” Some people today assume one is a Christian if they believe in one God. This is not true. Deism, which several of the Founding Fathers subscribed to, does not uphold Jesus Christ as God in the flesh or the only Savior of the world.

For the record, the Founding Fathers of our nation were the men who signed the Declaration of Independence (56 in total), framed the Constitution, and signed the Articles of Confederation. For your convenience, I have given a brief description of the beliefs of some of the more prominent Founding Fathers:

John Adams – As a Unitarian (raised a Congregationalist), Adams rejected 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). However, he firmly believed that Christianity was the best religion and opposed Thomas Paine’s criticisms of Christianity.

Samuel Adams – 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 – A deist, but thought Christ was the best example of religion, though he doubted His divinity. He saw the superiority in the morals and values of Christ’s teachings. He believed, however, that God’s truths could be found in nature and reason which definitely was a dangerous departure from holding the Bible as God’s infallible Word to mankind. He thought that portions of the Bible, such as anything miraculous were corrupt add-ons over history. The Age of Reason had affected many then and now. Intellect is good, it is made by God. But unless it is subjected to the Holy Spirit in deep humility, it will inevitably run amok and cause people to stumble. In my opinion, Franklin would be a staunch evolutionist if he lived in our generation.

James Madison – A deist who was fluent in Hebrew. Big believer in religious freedom.

Thomas Paine – A deist who typically exalted intellect over the Word of God.

Alexander Hamilton – 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 – In his will he wrote, “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 – In an April 23, 1811, letter to John Bristed, he described his annoyance when overhearing atheists putting down religion and later told one that he believed in Christ and was thankful that he did.

Thomas Jefferson – A deist who respected Christ’s teachings, but rejected His divinity, His miracles, and His resurrection. Jefferson wrote to John Adams, January 24, 1814 that the divine aspects of Christ were “the fabric of very inferior minds.”*

*Note the intellectual arrogance of deism, so be ever mindful of Matthew 11:25-26 – “I praise Thee O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them unto babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight.” – Jesus Christ.

George Washington – In his Daily Sacrifice book at age 24, Washington prays: “Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God & guide this day and for ever 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. Washington also used the title “Supreme Architect” (a Freemasonry term of which he became a devout member). Most conservative Christians have problems with the Masons as a group.

In summary, it is often difficult to know exactly what is in a man’s heart in regard to religious beliefs, especially when they are not alive to answer our questions. I would say that most of the Fathers had a “good touch” of Christianity in them, but many may fail my test of being “Bible-believing Christians.“ It appears that deism (along with intellectual pride) influenced too many of them. The above note under Thomas Jefferson and deism is quite revealing. It is safe to say, however, that Biblical principles played a major role in the formation of our country. One glaring example is the “separation of powers” piece. Enough of the Fathers recognized that man is basically evil and that power tends to corrupt. No tyrant would ever rule the United States of America.

So was our country ever a “Christian nation?” I guess that depends on the definition of “Christian nation,” and I doubt whether even Christians could agree on that. I would say that it was formed from Christian principles. I certainly do not see any Islamic, Hindu, or Buddhist influence in its formation. I would also say that the majority of the people in those days were Christians. To say that it was or is a Christian nation, however, implies that the government would uphold and promote Christianity as the best or only right religion, and we know that it cannot and will not do that.

Extra Thought: For years I have been frustrated with the debate about the phrase, “One nation, under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy. The phrase “under God” was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance June 14, 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress. Today, some people want that phrase omitted. Why not just change it to, “One nation, founded on the belief that God is over all, ….”? That should end the controversy as it should please both sides because it does not force someone to swear allegiance to something they do not believe in, and it is historically accurate thus pleasing believers.


GR: Obviously I would hold all these men in the utmost respect including Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. With that said if I could speak to Jefferson, I would say, “Perhaps you need to look past your massive pride issues, open your mind and heart, and read the King James Bible regarding your Lord and Savior whom you choose to dismiss.“ I would also gently tell TJ that, “you are so full of yourself as to not see the Kingdom of God.”

Regarding the Pledge of Allegiance: To change the pledge to our flag in the name of diversity or political correctness is exactly what is wrong in our country today. That kind of thinking is why the gays and Muslims are changing the face of our nation and the US is becoming a toilet bowl of sin. Changing the pledge would have every Muslim, liberal, and atheist in the country dancing in the street. Next thing, they will want GOD off our money. Just my opinion.

Dave to GR: Our country had way too much sin BEFORE gays yelled for rights and BEFORE Islam started growing in our nation. Gays and Muslims are NOT the problem. Their rise is a symptom of the problem, however. If enough Americans would repent and change their ways, God would heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

As far as the Pledge change suggestion is concerned, forcing a person to swear allegiance to our God is not the Holy Spirit’s way of doing things. Maybe you could re-think some of your statements.

GR: I thought you wanted my comments….if you don’t like my comments….that means you do not want my comments, and I stand by my comments. I do not have to rethink anything.

Dave to GR: Then we can agree to disagree on some topics. That does not mean I do not want your comments. When I get comments, it always challenges me to think through issues, which I need to do. So whether or not I agree with comments, they always help me. So your comments are always most welcomed.

GR: LOL I’m a pain in the butt.

Dave to GR: A lovable one though…..:-)

LM: Another great discussion, good food for thought. Washington, however, was a deist.

Dave to LM: Thanks for that feedback. You raise a good point about Washington. From what I’ve read, he can be difficult to nail down as far as his religious beliefs were concerned. Some resources assert he was a deist while others say he was not. I guess I would not put him into the same group as Paine or Jefferson, because I believe George was convinced of the resurrection of Jesus. He apparently had some trouble with some Protestant doctrines as time went by, but I do not know the specifics on that. I think it’s safe to say he had deist leanings, but I hesitate to say he was simply a deist. To me, that means he is not saved. I would assume this conclusion only because it is my understanding that deism rejects the resurrection, and I believe that is essential for salvation (Romans 10:9)….now maybe I’m wrong on this assumption regarding deist beliefs. Another assumption I have about deism is it does not believe in the providence or interventions of God with people and nations. Washington certainly did believe in those things. I’d appreciate any further info you can give me on all this. I’m learning as I go here :-).

C: I like your last point and agree (about the pledge). Also, I was not “flipped out” like many Christians were concerning Obama’s comment about our nation not being Christian. In all fairness to him (and believe me this is not an endorsement of him), I believe he had a good grasp of the intrinsic value of the morality (need for Deity) and the obligation of Government to not become an “England” forcing specific religious beliefs on everyone. We weren’t/aren’t a “Christian Nation.” “Godly-influenced” may be a better adjective as you have done beautifully in your expose’ here. Keep up the good work – these are great.

PT: Were our founding fathers Christian? I believe many were, would guess some were not, and probably some had only a form of Christianity (I’m really bad at judging who is really a Christian). But I do believe God was there at the beginning of our great nation and made sure the writing of our Constitution gave credit where credit was due,…”one nation under God.” Sadly, I went to the city library a few weeks ago and saw many pamphlets that addressed this very question–is America a Christian nation? All of the material basically made a disclaimer about God, even though readily admitting there are more Christians living in America than any other faith and most people believe in the God of the Judeo-Christian faith. So that alone should tell us something about us and our founding fathers.

Dave to PT: I too think that God influenced the Founding Fathers, although many of them had some wrong ideas about the God of the Bible. We must realize the cultural perspective of the 1700s. Many still had resentment against and fear of the Roman Catholic Church that dominated the world from 538 AD to 1798 AD. This ruthless, evil empire banned Bibles from the lay people and tortured and murdered millions of Christians over 1,260 years. Even non-Christian historians called those years “The Dark Ages.” True believers who held Scriptural truths, such as the Moravians, Waldensians, and Paulicians among others, were either killed for “heresy” or lived away from Rome’s reach. This, coupled with the rise of the Age of Reason in Europe, which was dominated by intellect rather than faith in God’s Word, and the tragic perception that Roman Catholicism was true Christianity, must have had an influence on the Founding Fathers’ thinking.

I think God’s purpose in forming the United States was to show other nations how much He wants to bless them as He blessed ours (The US grew to the #1 world power in a very short time). Also, He has used our nation to combat demonic powers working through evil empires on earth. What would life be like if the US did not fight in WWII? Can you imagine what a communist or fascist nation would do if they had all our power and resources?! Far from being a perfect country, I believe the US has shown wisdom and great restraint in world affairs. I believe this was because of so many believers in our nation and God’s influence upon us.

PM: Thanks Dave for giving a fair and balanced view on this topic. What I have found is when doing readings or research, it is difficult to ascertain a bias because the authors always offer a proof text, one that none of us is likely to have access to so we can determine accuracy. I read a nice book last year called “The Faiths of our Fathers” by Alf J. Mapp, Jr. Many of his proof texts ran contrary to what I’d read in Peter Marshall’s “The Light and the Glory.” So which is the more accurate account? Was Marshall guilty of leaving pertinent info out in order to follow his own Christian bias? I know from my own experience as a filmmaker there is no such thing as absolute objectivity. We all edit and shade things to get a point across. So I agree with your conclusions, and even your suggestion on the Pledge of Allegiance.

Dave to PM: “Fair and balanced” eh? You make me sound like a Fox News caster :-). You raise a good point about proof texts. Isn’t it ironic that we live in a generation that has access to more info than anyone in history, yet it’s so difficult to determine truth and accuracy.

A: I liked your final comment on how to change the pledge to satisfy everyone (if that’s possible) because we do need a reference to God in the pledge!

J: Thanks Dave for the briefs on some of the Founding Fathers. I found it amazing that the Constitution has stood the course of time in our country and would like to think it is because our Lord had something to do with the writing.

Dave to J: Yes, that Constitution was and still is a gem! It is tragic that some politicians and judges are reading things into it that were not intended by “The Fathers.” Oh those biases!