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Our Founding Fathers and Religion

Discussion in 'Politics and Current Affairs' started by PH8AL, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    I am quite tired of hearing how our Founding Fathers were good Christians and founded this Nation on Christian Values.

    In another thread in this forum it was stated that they were and the challenge was given that if I didn't believe this I should read a book or 2 or 25.

    What 25 books should I read?

    Are any of them actually written by a Founding Father?

    Which one?

    So here is an opportunity to settle this. Prove it. Show me the evidence.

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  2. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User

    Define "Christian Values" first. If that's your measuring stick it needs to be defined. Also define what a "good Christian" is. I know people who are only in church at Easter but consider themselves good Christians. I know others who are in church every time the doors are open and also consider themselves good Christians.
  3. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Well I'm not a Christian so will not define for them what makes a good one or a bad one.
    What I could do is build a list of quotes from Christians using these exact phrases in their political speech.
    It would be terribly long and is what Google is for.

    Your comment is meant to sideline this thread with splitting hair debates when what I said and what they claim is common public discord and is plain in meaning.
  4. Apoplectic1

    Apoplectic1 Member

    Even if a founding father were not a good Christian, do you think that they would admit to it in their own autobiography?

    Look at Ben Franklin. He always wrote about "early to bed early to rise" and all that, but according to experts he would party all night and was knee deep in muff fuzz at all times.
    PH8AL likes this.
  5. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Not ignoring your comment but I am also not going to comment on it yet.
    I am strait demanding proof and will not state my counter argument before they have joined the debate.

    Ben knee deep in muff fuzz! Lol the visual I got from that made me laugh so hard my belly hurts.
  6. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User

    I don't argue at all that they claim it. I've heard people claim that many, many times. I was just putting forth what is necessary to support that claim. You've got to define what a "good Christian" and what "Christian values" are. Then you can determine which, if any, of the Founding Fathers conform to those definitions.
  7. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Ok let's take this into the debate for the limited purpose of definition. I personally can only say my opinion which adds little to actually coming to an agreeable definition.

    I admit a bias here. Definitions should come from an unbiased source whenever possible.

    Feel free to take this on or wait for a few Christians to come to a consensus on what they mean.

    That is as long as it does not sidetrack the original topic.
    I get the same answer every time I challenge this myth. "Go read your history" Well I've done that, now I am doing what is common in a real debate. Demanding evidence that what Christians are claiming is Historical Fact is, or that they stop saying it here on these forums and in the real world.
  8. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User

    The problem is that a lot of values the country was founded on are indeed Christian values. They are also values present in Islam, Judaism and any number of other religions. Freedom for everyone? Equality for everyone? These are universal values found in any number of religions and in Christianity. So one could certainly make the argument that the country was founded on Christian values. One could also claim it was founded on Islamic values as well.
  9. Strings

    Strings Well-Known Member

    But definitions ARE still needed, as they frame the debate.

    Not Christian myself, but I'll take a stab at defining things: a Christian would be (in my mind) someone who believes in Jesus Christ as the son of God, who died via crucifiction to redeem humanity.

    Now, the question becomes "what evidence is there that the Founders had such a belief?"
  10. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    ANON that is a good point. And are values I hold dear with out a religion.

    Acceptable definition in my opinion.

    So I will strike the values question from the topic. Show evidence that they were even indeed Christian.
  11. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User

    The question of what makes a Christian is one that has been debated by theologians since the birth of Christianity. If you read the New Testament, the early Christian Fathers wrote about the issue of what a Christian truly is extensively. I'm not sure that just professing a belief in Christ makes one a "Christian."
  12. OutofDate1980

    OutofDate1980 Android Expert

    Well values is not exclusive to any creed. The U.S. is not founded on any religion.

    Treaty of Tripoli of 1797, ratified unanimously by the U.S. Senate, signed into law by John Adams.

    " As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion, ..."[FONT=&quot]

    Drhyde likes this.
  13. Strings

    Strings Well-Known Member

    Anon: we don't need to use a "scholarly definition", so long as we all agree on the definition for the sake of discussion.

    And I would argue that claiming someone could be a Christian without believing in Christ is preposterous. Follow "Christian values", yes. But belief in Christ as son of God and saviour of mankind" is kinda the whole point of that particular faith
  14. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    According to John 3:16 it is the deciding factor of who gets into heaven or hell.

    And this is exactly what I meant by splitting hairs debates. Which is often the tactic of some one trying to distract attention away from a weak argument.
  15. Strings

    Strings Well-Known Member

    "And god so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life"

    Yep... suggests that a belief in Christ is a requirement...
  16. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User

    Um, isn't that what I said?

    Anyway, if we look at the two statements from the OP we've got this:

    The Founding Fathers were Christians.
    The US was founded on Christian values.

    Depending on how you define Christian, I think both statements can be considered true, but so what? I'm considering the Founding Fathers as those who signed the Declaration of Independence and/or the Constitution. All of those men belonged to a Christian church of some kind. Some left writings that made it clear they were devout Christians (like Patrick Henry). Some were Deists (like Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin) and many fell in the middle somewhere. It is certainly accurate to say that all of them were religious in some way or another. As stated earlier, all were affiliated with various churches. Depending on how you define Christian, all might be considered to be Christians. Jefferson accepted the teachings of Christ, but rejected his deity. Was Jefferson then a Christian? I've no idea and won't even being to guess. In any case I think the statement that the Founding Fathers were Christians is a generally true statement albeit with some minor qualifications.

    The statement that the US was founded on Christian values is also a true statement I think. But an equally true statement would be that the US was founded on Islamic values. Or that it was founded on Judaic values. The values are so universal as to apply to many religions.

    TLDR version I think both of those statements can be considered true.
  17. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Mathew 25 and several text from John's Letter to the Roman's establish that if if you don't choose Jesus not only will you not get into heaven but you will be punished in hell. Your punishment will be fitting of your crimes in life but the ticket there is to not believe. To paraphrase.
    The obvious opposite of this is that you can commit any crime against humanity and as long as you ask forgiveness and take Jesus as your Savior you're still going to heaven.

    So yeah I would feel safe that we can define a Christian by the bibles definition.

    I'll tell you my opinion of why I was dismissed out of hand in an other thread and why no one has taken this up. Because its a lie that can be proven a lie by any one who has studied the public and personal writings of The main characters who hatched our Revolution. They were all prolific writers.

    Jefferson was a fan of the philosophy of Jesus. He took a King James New Testament and stripped it of all reference to Jesus as the son of god or his crucifixion, any and all mysticism and magik and dogma of the early catholic church.

    He published it as The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.
    His intent was if you couldn't find your own moral compass you would do ok to let this lead you.
    Many make the claim that this was not a discourse on Christianity but written to teach Native Americans with.

    This is a Logic Fail.

    From the point of view of a christian who is concerned about the souls of the Natives who are going to hell because they never knew about Jesus. How mean spirited would it be to send them a Bible to teach them about Jesus that doesn't include a way to save your soul.

    I find value in many verses from the Bible. The story of Joseph is a favorite morality tale.

    That does not make me jewish or christian. It means I found value in a book.

    If you want me to I'll start pulling out quotes from Adams, Franklin etc
    Ive had to write papers on this so I know what to ask Google for.

    The evidence to prove the Historical Fact that the majority of the Founding Fathers were not Christian is in their own writing. Photo copies of original documents available for you to puruse online in the Library of Congress archives.

    Thomas Jefferson from a letter to a Mr Short 1819.

    Here is what Mr Jefferson had to say to the Dansbury Baptist Church Association


    Well he went on like this for decades.

    Madison was probably the staunchest of the supporters of Separation of church and state so wrote extensively about it. This is my favorite for clearly defining his opinion.
    While this does not prove he is not a christian it does give a sense of strong leanings that way. By Christian standards your church life and your civil life are one in the same. You are to live the word of Christ and carry his message to the world.
    Pat reminds us of that every episode of the 700 Club, yes I sometimes watch the 700 Club.

    John Adams was a christian in his early life. Worst form he was a puritan.
    He later gave us this gem.

  18. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter


    once again you are giving a circle jerk session with definitions.

    If these values are a Universal Creed than you can not proscribe them to any group ie they are not christian values they are the common values of man.

    Our Country was founded on exactly that the values of morality of common man.

    As our laws were found on common law that dates far back further in Northern Europe than christianity so can not be considered christian values.

    As for defining the Founding Fathers I am not referring to every guy in the Continental Congress, just as today most of Congress were politicians trying to get the best deals and pork for there constituents. Many who trumped up their Piety just like the puppets running for office today. It plays well some places.

    I am referring to the handful of them who underpin the entire Ideology that our Country was founded on.

    Then you make more claims about the social habits and beliefs of the Founding Fathers with out giving anything as evidence that what you are saying is accurate.

    On topic or hit the road.
  19. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User

    For the record, by your definition, I am not a Christian. I would certainly consider myself one. I attend church several times weekly and am actively involved in various church activities.

    However, I don't believe that one's church life and civil life are the same. I do not believe that the power of the government should be used to enforce any sort of moral code. I have supported gay marriage the ballot box even though I would never admit such a thing at any church function. I read many non-Christian thinkers and find inspiration in their ideas and philosophies. So, by your definition, I am not a Christian.

    I find your definition of the Founding Fathers as somewhat flawed as well. I think you're picking those who fit in your definition of Christian and excluding those who don't because they didn't "underpin the Ideology our country was founded on." I'm not quite sure what that means.

    John Adams once said:

    And ten years before his death he wrote:

    Franklin clearly believed in God although he doubted the divinity of Christ:

    Does this make him not a Christian? I don't know.

    Alexander Hamilton would seem to meet your definition. But I'm not entirely clear on what that definition is. Hamilton wrote:

    And his last words on being shot by Burr were reportedly:

    Those would be the words of someone I would think of as a Christian though it might not fit your definition.

    Patrick Henry was an avowed Christian. In his will he wrote:

    John Jay wrote:

    And he also wrote:

    Again, we can accurately state that all of them were religious IME. Were they Christian? That really depends on how you define Christian. As I said earlier and you went into depth, both Franklin and Jefferson were Deists. They doubted the deity of Christ. Can one doubt the deity of Christ and still be a Christian? I don't know. That's a question for the theologians and apologists. Certainly some of the Founding Fathers were very devout Christians and all of them belonged to some church or another.

    None of this should surprise anyone. Look at the make up of Congress today. The vast majority self-identify as Christian. There is only one who identifies himself as atheist. Only six declined to identify a faith and and ~40 of the 535 members of Congress belonged to a non-Christian religion. No doubt some of them are devout Christians and some are Christian in name only and never darken a church stoop. No doubt their religious views differ across the board. That's not abnormal for any religion. But the fact that all the Founding Fathers self-identified as members of a Christian denomination shouldn't surprise anyone. I'm not sure why this is a big deal at all.
  20. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    No you are not a Christian, by christian dogma you are a sinner damned to hell if you don't repent.

    Believing a God does not make you a christian. I didn't say they were not spiritual.

    Your Adams quote is taken out of context which is why I posted the entire letter it was taken from. He then calls it the bloodiest religion to ever exist and the letter as I covered above was part of an on going discussion about the Works of Dupuis. Dupuis believed in a Universlity of Religion Theology.
    Universality of Religions

    Universalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Universality of Religion,Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Definition of Anthropology, Anthropology Definition, Physical Anthropology, Sociology Guide

    An article on Deism and or Founding Fathers

    More on Deism because this is the root of freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.
    These pricipals were not meant to protect christianity from the state but to insure that a religion could not vote out democracy in favor of their doctrine. This is also the period of history referred to as the Age of Enlightenment and the Revolution of science.
    Diesm and the Enlighenment movement started as a backlash against the continual bloodshed between the protestant and catholic empires in Europe, the christian reformationwhich caused it and the persecution and execution of heratics.

    Christians cling to every mention of God by the Founders as proof they were christian. #1 on the list is the reference to God in the Declaration. It is not a referrence to the christian god. It is a referrence by a Deist to the creator not god the father.

    No where in any of our Founding documents can you find Bible verse, reference to Jesus or god the father.
    Deism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  21. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Why this is important is freaking obvious unless you live in a bubble. You can't separate the Christian Fundementalist doctrine from Conservative Political Speech.

    This ultra partisian gridlock is a direct result of that union and the rise of the Fundementalist movement.

    This misinformation and propoganda is meant to foster the wide spread belief that if you are not a Christian you can not be a Patriot.

    Their core goals undermine Democracy.

    They are trying to intentionally strip away the separation of church and state so they can use the public school system to further their religion. They already teach creationism as Scientific Fact and want to make this mandatory for every child in this Country.

    They rail against the New Word Order while they are the tools of the Elitists in both parties who are the NWO.

    Its a sad state when faith can so blind one to reason. Poor Richard warned us against it 250 years ago.

    We have already had acts of true terrorism committed by Fanatic Christians here. The point of killing abortion doctors was to cause fear that if you are involved in abortion you might be killed at any time.

    It is important to me personally because I see the use and enablement of christian fundementalism be Corporate Elitists in their campaign to strip our rights for profit and protection as the #1 threat to Democracy we face.
  22. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User

    Well, then it speaks to your definition of Christian. If I were asked by a pollster if I considered myself a Christian I would self-identify as a Christian. If you asked people I know if they considered me to be a Christian, they might say, "Well, he goes to church several times a week. He's active in the church. I would consider him a Christian." Yet your definition of Christian is basically someone who votes according to their religion. This seems a bit ridiculous to me and something of a straw man. There are hundreds of millions of people in this country who would self-identify as Christian, but would not fit your narrow definition of what a Christian is.

    There is no doubt that many of the Founding Fathers were Christians. Again, this shouldn't surprise anyone since Christianity was, at the time, and still is today, the prevalent religion in America. Depending on what poll you look at 75-80% of Americans self-identify as Christians. Congress is made up almost entirely of people who identify as Christians.

    Is it a surprise that the Founding Fathers would all identify themselves as members of various Christian denominations? No doubt some were extremely devout, some only showed up on Easter and Christmas and some called themselves Christians and never darkened the door step of a church. This shouldn't shock anyone and I'm not sure why anyone would object to this. If you want to object to the fact that the religious right wants to use this to forward their political agenda, then fine. That's another topic altogether.

    Again, your original post posed two statements and wished to discuss the veracity of both of them.

    1. The Founding Fathers were Christians.
    2. The country was founded on Christian values.

    Again, I think both statements are kind of true. All the Founding Fathers self-identified as being Christians although some were no doubt more devout than others and some no doubt had their politics influenced by their faith more than others. So, yes, one can make the argument that all of them were Christians. Certainly none of them were atheists and none of them self-identified as Muslim, Buddhis, Hindu or members of any other religion. They all belonged to one Christian denomination or another.

    Was the country founded on Christian values? Again, yes. Values like freedom, equality, justice, etc..... are all Christian values. But they're also values found in other religions as well. So you could equally claim the country was founded on Muslim values or Judaic values. I'm not horribly familiar with eastern religions, but I'd be shocked if Buddhism or Hinduism didn't espouse similar values.

    Your argument that these are not Christian values because they are universal values is flawed. The company I work for has values like integrity and honesty. They're on posters all over the place and are part of the company culture. They've even printed them on our name badges. They are considered Acme Brick Company Values. By your argument they couldn't be considered Acme Brick Company Values since they're universal values. That's complete crap. Just because something is a universal value doesn't mean it can't be associated with an organization or a religion or anything else. So yes, the Founding Fathers were self-identified Christians and yes, the country was founded on values that would be considered Christian.
  23. OutofDate1980

    OutofDate1980 Android Expert

    Revisionist history. Christian religions opposed freedom, equality and justice as we use those terms today. I grant you opposition is less strenuous now, but not eliminated.

    There are numerous references in the tenets promoting or tolerating slavery, inequality and genocide.

    The goal of the Founding Fathers views on government and religion was separation of Church and State, based on the then recent history of the religious wars in Europe.
  24. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Extreme Android User

    Not true, but whatever.
  25. PH8AL

    PH8AL Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    So you identify culturally as a christian. I could claim myself to be handsome, my opinion who can tell me I'm wrong does that indeed make me handsome, no sorry.

    You go to a church, if you are not saved and are a member of that church you are a liar because to be an actual member of of the church, with a right to speak about church business you must be baptized. The symbolic act of washing away your sins and being reborn in Christ. Unless you are Catholic then the bar is set much higher and the lie is that much bigger.

    Christianity is a religion based on the acceptance of Christ as savior. You either believe or you don't and that is the exact definition of a Christian. If you do not accept christ as as your savior you are a hell bound sinner and that's it.

    What you are doing is trying to skew the definition of Christian so you can use the term to encompass any one who is secular that culturally identifies as christian because that is there family heritage. It falsely inflates christians to a majority and is the only claim you have to calling the Founding Fathers a group of christians.

    Only 19% of people who claim to be christian attend church 1 or more times a week and only about 35% claim Jesus as their savior. So less than 30% of Americans profess Jesus as their Savior.

    Next time you are off to church ask a true Believer if you are a christian even though you don't accept christ as your Savior. They will gather more true believers to pray for the holy spirit to enter your heart so if you were to die that day you would not suffer an eternity in hell.

    Now there are all kinds of these strange off shoots that still claim to be christians that monkey around with they ways of salvation. They are considered hieratic cults by Christians. Because you have to accept christ as your savior.

    You are not a Christian nor where any of the self professed and closet Deists that founded our Nation.

    Defined the end.

    Now for the value issues. The flaw in your argument is that the founding fathers were clear on the point of freedom of religion for all religion.

    You yourself profess these to be universal. To claim that our government is founded on christian values is exclusive of every other religion or lack of.

    When Christians rally and protest claiming they need to take back this country and go back to christian values it is exclussive of every one else the Founders protected with the 1st amendment and the separation of church and State.

    So we have the moral values common to man. They are pretty simple and mostly common sense and decency. Christian Political speech is ripe with much more being encompassed by the term christian values than the Universal Values you have already argued our country was founded on. When you stray the slightest bit away from the simpliest common values you get divergence in the values of different groups and they are no longer universal. Claiming one groups values over an others as the basis of our system is once again a democracy fail.

    Christianity is in fact intolerant by its base nature. If you don't accept it as truth you get a label and a punishment.
    To take this country and run it on what Christians today encompass as christian values you must destroy and corrupt the cornerstones of this Union.
    This is not a philosophical or theological debate. This is an organised political movement bent on destroying the Bill of Rights to gain control of this Country so they can use its Institutions to force their faith on every one.

    Jesus is kind and loving and teaches peace but if you don't believe he died and rose again to take the burden of your sin well he will send you to an eternity of punishment by fire and demons. His dad who is also him and this other guy all at the same time has been known to order the genocide of those who refuse Jesus's love so they can get to their punishment that much sooner. He has also promised to send Jesus back here again to take all who believe in him to heaven to wait while he tortures and murders every one else who is left so the good boys and girls can come back and not have to deal with those nasty sinners any more.
    Sorry sounds an awful lot like... hell... exactly like what the muslims say their god is going to do to us Infidels because we don't believe in him.

    Not to mention where is the peace and love. Can't find any of that peace and love in the hate mongering political propaganda.

    Laying this off on a minority of christians and saying that ain't you. These are people of your faith doing this in the name of you and your god. They don't call themselves a minority of christians when the are standing on a street corner with a bull horn screaming god hates ***s. They claim to represent you. Im not talking just about the idiot protesting at soldiers funerals even though they are whack jobs they do claim Jesus as their saviors.

    The homosexual issue is a perfect example of where christians are right because their gods said so and are going to persecute and demonize an entire group of people for living in a way that their god says is wrong when the laws of this country say are fine. That's Tyranny not democracy. Actively partitioning the government to enforce church doctrine and christian values on a group of non christians who are breaking no law is exactly what our Founding Fathers meant to protect us from.

    Do we need to go into the Democracy fail that is the science of creationism and the ever present campaign to force this belief on every one else because its the word of god.
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