A Founding Fathers Question
One night, a statement was made in a YouTube chat I moderate, that piqued my curiosity. The person said, "All the founding fathers were Christians." So I started a search. Was this person statement true? Especially since in the first ten amendments of the Constitution ... The Bill of Rights, we have freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.
During the 18th century wealthy families educated their children with tutors or in boarding schools where they received 'classical education' that included languages, philosophy, literature, history, mathematics, etc. They were sent on Grand Tours of Europe to experience the world before beginning their careers.
Many people who came to the 'Colonies' did so to escape the religious persecution of the Spanish and Roman Inquisition that lasted from 1480 until Napoleon conquered Spain in 1808. Those that escaped the Inquisition were careful to not settle in the Spanish claimed territories.
Back to our Founding Fathers, they were educated during the Age of Enlightenment also known as the age of Reason. They were taught to think scientifically, logically without the taint of emotional or religious bias. It was said Thomas Jefferson took a Bible and cut out all the parts that had to do with miracles, angels, or the supernatural.
Many of them attended church, it was expected in that time, and considered themselves Christians, but with certain caveats. In their public and private writings they demonstrated a belief in a personal God, a familiarity with the Bible, and a belief in prayer. Acknowledging Christ as their personal savior and acceptance of other apostolic beliefs not so much.
Most were Theists, Theists believe in the power of prayer because God intervenes in the affairs of Man. Some like Thomas Paine were deists. Deists believe in a Creator, but not that they intervene in Human affairs. After much study of the writings of the Founders many scholars have come to the conclusion that most of the Founding Fathers were Theistic rationalists. According to Gregg L. Frazer, author of The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders, theistic rationalism is a belief system of the educated elite and not a religion.
"According to scholar Gregg L. Frazer, theistic rationalists “believed in a powerful, rational, and benevolent creator God who established laws by which the universe functioned. Their God was a unitary personal God who was present and active and who intervened in human affairs. Consequently, they believed that prayers were heard and effectual. They believed that the main factor in serving God was living a good and moral life, [and] … morality was central to the value of religion.”
My conclusion ... As most of the founding fathers were educated elite, they would have wanted the citizens of America to not experience the persecution of the Church (Catholic or Christian) that was occurring in Europe, nor did they want the Church controlling the head of state as they did the ruling families on the Continent.
If we're going to have the individual freedom we need to be free to worship as we see fit, and to elect the officials most in line with our beliefs, and not live under threat of religious or political tyrants.
Quote from Great American History & All That's Interesting
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