The Faiths of the Founding Fathers

"The Faiths of the Founding Fathers" is a book by historian of American religion David L. Holmes of the College of William and Mary. Holmes approaches the topic of the religion of the founders of the United States by analyzing their public statements and correspondence, the comments left by their contemporaries, and the views, where available, of clergy who knew them.

The main thesis of the book is that the American (U.S.) Founding Fathers fell into three religious categories: first, the smallest group, founders who had left their Judeo-Christian heritages and become advocates of the Enlightenment religion of nature and reason called "Deism". These figures included Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen.

The second largest group consisted of the founders who remained practicing Christians. They retained a supernaturalist worldview, a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and an adherence to the teachings of their denomination. These founders included Patrick Henry, John Jay, and Samuel Adams. Holmes also finds that most of the wives and daughters of the founders fell into this category.

The largest group, he declares, consisted of founders who retained Christian loyalties and practice but were influenced by Deism. They believed in little or none of the miracles and supernaturalism inherent in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Holmes finds a spectrum of such Deistic Christians among the founders, ranging from John Adams and George Washington on the conservative right to Benjamin Franklin and James Monroe on the skeptical left.

The well-reviewed book is one of the first to question the assertions of secular historians that the founders were all Unitarians or Deists and of evangelical pastors that they were orthodox and sometimes born-again Christians who intended to found a Christian nation. Holmes tries to show that all three of the groups he names were present at every step of the founding of the nation.

External links

* [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9437333/The-Founding-Fathers-Deism-and-Christianity Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Founding Fathers, Deism, and Christianity]


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