The Founding Fathers and Religion

What did the Founding Fathers of America say regarding Religion?

The Declaration of Independence, 1776:

“…to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”  paragraph 1.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” paragraph 2.

“…appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare… And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” Final paragraph.

The Constitution, 1787:

“III:  The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” – Constitution, Article VI, III.  Oaths of Office.

*This includes tests of being non-religious.  Therefore, being religious or non-religious can NEVER disqualify anyone from “office or public trust under the United States.

“done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord”  Constitution, end paragraph.

The Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Thomas Jefferson:

“Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making ” – Letter, Religious Freedom, 1779.

James Madison:

“The members of a Govt as such can in no sense, be regarded as possessing an advisory trust from their Constituents in their religious capacities. They cannot form an ecclesiastical Assembly, Convocation, Council, or Synod, and as such issue decrees or injunctions addressed to the faith or the Consciences of the people…who in general are aware of the distinction between religious & political societies. The idea also of a union of all to form one nation under one Govt in acts of devotion to the God of all is an imposing idea.”  – Letter, Memorandum on the 1st Amendment, 1817.

Patrick Henry:

“It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country.  Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings… we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us… Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power… There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us…  Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech, 1775

 

  1. The Founding Fathers spoke of their religion in their political dealings.
  2. They expressed a faith in a single God.
  3. This single God who was “Almighty” and soverign over the world.
  4. Who was the source of all human rights.
  5. Government should not establish a national religion NOR can government prohibit the free practice of any religion.