Did America have a Christian founding? There has been an ongoing debate on this topic and it’s important not just historically, but how religion has a role in this country and inner workings. The people who believe it wasn’t based on God or Christianity have provided “proof” and continue to use single quotes to persuade those who believe differently. The most important document in our history, what started it all, is the Declaration of Independence, which I’ll be referring to often.
My goal is to get to the bottom of it, from an objective, historical and accurate point of view, rather than picking a few quotes that might support my personal opinion. I will dig deep, review historical documents and investigate each of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. I want to get this right and leave no room for assumptions or inaccuracies.
I believe that a majority of Americans have forgotten where we have come from and what we and this country are all about. Many Christians today have adopted skewed views on this topic and some believe that voicing their beliefs is okay in church and at home, but not in government or elsewhere. The “separation of church and state” is often argued and thrown out as an end-all quote, but many don’t really understand its concept or reason for it.
Many Christians today feel as though they must defend their beliefs and some are even scared to say they are Christians. If Christians voice a concern over controversial topics that are not in alignment with The Bible, they are labeled intolerable, mean and are acting “not very Christian.” This is unacceptable and Christians need to be firm in their belief and not be scared into submission for fear of the backlash they might encounter. Being Christian doesn’t mean being quiet.
Jesus didn’t back down to this type of behavior so why are so many Christians willing to be quiet? The people in the original 13 colonies went to war, suffered and died to form the United States. They didn’t back down either. The country as a whole has moved away from the beliefs and principles of Christianity, which this country was built upon. Unfortunately this continued spiral shows more and more each year. What are you willing to risk to be a proud Christian?
This John Adams quote is a favorite of opponents of Christianity in regards to the country's founding, “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” This was used in part and taken out of context to support their opinion and blanket the founding of this great country. Most people think George Washington said this, believe this was a single sentence, and was said while the Declaration of Independence was being signed. If these were true, it would be a pretty tough pill to swallow and hard to dispute, but let’s investigate a bit further.
In truth, John Adams said this in 1797, twenty-one (21) years afterthe Declaration of Independence was signed. Adams was referring to the Treaty of Tripoli, which was focused on a pact between two sovereign states, not two religious powers. As you can see, taking just a piece of a quote, and put into another context, can paint a very distorted and untrue picture. As you know, this is done hourly in the mainstream media.
Would you feel differently about John Adams if you knew he also wrote, “Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God … What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be.”
Our Founding Fathers made clear that one of their primary concerns was religious freedom, not the advancement of a state religion. Individuals, not the government, would define religious faith and practice in the United States.
Let’s take a closer look at the Declaration of Independence, those who signed it, and see if we can’t ascertain some truth and understanding. It’s critical to look into the full lives, not just a snapshot, of those who signed this precious document but don’t worry, I’ve done this for you.
The below represents facts, not fiction; history, not hearsay; truth, not assumptions, that even an atheist couldn’t dispute. Although the below is powerful, accurate, and persuasive, this is only a small fraction of what I found. Even so, it’s overflowing with substantial proof that our country was founded, formed, and framed with Christian beliefs, ideals, principles, with God in mind.
Not far into the Declaration of Independence, actually the very first sentence, says, “...the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's Godentitle them…”
Another says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights...”
If you ask people why we declared independence from England, you will likely hear one main response, “Taxation without representation.” Although this is true, it was listed 17th out of 27 grievances with England and King George III in the Declaration of Independence. There were more important reasons for risking their lives, their families, and their futures.
Every signer of our Declaration of Independence committed treason, and one of the most important reasons was that many wanted to pursue religious liberty and freedoms. The King of England would not allow Bible and missionary societies. Furthermore, you only had one church you could attend; The Church of England. Even more dumbfounding is that if you did not attend every Sunday and tithe 10%, you were fined and or sent to jail. Where do you think the tithes were sent? If you guessed to the pockets of King George III, you guessed right.
You had no options to worship, you had no choice of how you worshipped and you were fined and jailed if you didn’t comply. You can see why this was such an important reason to declare independence. This would only matter if our signers, the founders of our country, were Christians and quite clearly, it mattered.
I have read a condensed biography of every single signer of the Declaration of Independence which was used, in addition to my extensive research, I determined if they were Christian or not. Additionally, I will provide a few examples with facts that may lend value to this debate.
How many of the 56 signers were Christian? We can easily define Christian by including anyone who was Protestant, Episcopalian, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Lutherans, DutchReformed, and Methodists, or RomanCatholicand excluding anyone who leaned toward Deism.
Of these 56 brave signers, 50 were in fact, without question or doubt, Christian. Broken down further, 29 Episcopalian, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, and 2 Methodists. 90% of the signers were Christian.
The below were all signers of the Declaration of Independence.
● Matthew Thornton, a signer from New Hampshire, was “...greatly beloved by all who knew him and was a consistent zealous Christian.”
● Samuel Adams said, “I trust I have long since made my pace with the King of Kings.”
● Robert Paine was a chaplain during a military expedition in 1755.
● Stephen Hopkins, a signer from Rhode Island, was a sincere and consistent Christian.
● William Ellery, also from Rhode Island, was a patriot and a Christian, his name will ever be revered.
● Samuel Huntington lived the life of a irreproachable and sincere Christian, who was devoted to Christianity and being a true patriot.
George Washington, not a signer of the Declaration of Independence and often labeled a Deist, issued the Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1788, stating:
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the
People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
It ends with: "Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord1789.
After researching vast amounts of data, letters, writings, biographies, and historical documents, it is my firm belief that America was, without a shadow of a doubt, founded on Christian principles, beliefs, and ideals.
In closing, whether you are a Christian or not, it's important to know your history, the history of how we became the United States of America and those involved in protecting all of us, regardless of our faith or beliefs.
American Revolution Amateur Historian & Enthusiast
The Declaration of Independence
Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence - by B.J Lossing (1848)
US Library of Congress
US National Archives
National Center for Constitutional Studies