||John Adams declared that America was a Christian nation which had a duty to obey the God of the Bible. This was not just his
personal opinion, but was expressed in an official proclamation as President at the
request of Congress.
As no truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration, not any more fully
demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due
acknowledgment of the growing providence of a Supreme Being
and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous
distributor of rewards and punishments are conducive equally to the happiness of
individuals and to the well-being of communities....I have thought proper to recommend,
and I hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the twenty-fifth of April next, be
observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting,
and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain, as far as may be, from their secular
occupation, and devote the time to the sacred duties of religion, in public
and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offenses against the most high God,
confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through
the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through His
Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to
His righteous requisitions in time to
come; that He would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licentiousness in
principle and practice so offensive to Himself and so ruinous to mankind; that He would
make us deeply sensible that "righteousness exalteth a
nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" [Proverbs 14:34].
John Adams, "National Fast Day," A COMPILATION OF THE MESSAGES AND PAPERS OF THE
Everything about this official Presidential proclamation shows that the
"separation of church and state" (that is, the separation of Christianity and
State) is a myth. Adams shows that he believed that the government should endorse and promote public observance of
Trinitarian Christianity. No denominational favoritism is evident here.
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com (Hypatia SM) gives us a list of
quotations which he hopes will make us believe that Adams and the Signers of the
Constitution believed that Christianity should be kept private and that the government
should remove public acknowledgement of our duties to God:
>"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere
> in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths,
> Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in
The first thing to note is that Adams lived to be 91, and most of these quotes come
from late in Adams' life, when he seems to have become a bit cranky. He was angry at the
clergy (and not without good reason),
and questioned many of their doctrines. Even a staunch Theocrat can admit that sometimes
"the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity." That doesn't
mean Adams didn't believe the doctrine when he clearly proclaimed its truth as President.
Even if Adams didn't believe it, he obviously did not believe that a President who did
believe it could not publicly endorse or promote
obedience to the revealed will of that Triune God, and therefore Adams didn't believe what
the ACLU preaches. And even if Adams believed that Presidents
should not lead the nation in Trinitarian prayer, and merely capitulated to pressure from
Congress and the American People, it is that very pressure which identifies the Original
Intent of the Framers and shows that the ACLU's "wall of separation" is a myth.
>"The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature
> shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings
> shall rule it by fictitious miracles?"
I join Adams in voting for God. So did the rest of the Founding Fathers.
>"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation.
> But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been
> blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the
> most bloody religion that ever existed?"
> [John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der
Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816]
Adams is criticizing the clergy and those who would make converts by the power of the
civil government. I agree with Adams as against clergy. Adams also believed children
should be taught the Ten Commandments.
I also agree with Adams on this.
>"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of
> the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross.
> Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"
[John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson]
A little more context would enable us to discern what this means and what it doesn't
mean. Adams said that
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were . . . the
general principles of Christianity. . . . Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now
believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as
the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as
unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.
Read more here.
>"What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era?
> Where are fifty gospels, condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius?
> Where are the forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by
> order of another pope, because suspected of heresy? Remember the 'index
> expurgatorius', the inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter and the
[John Adams, letter to John Taylor]
Christianity has always produced greater literacy and the spread of knowledge. Don't
blame Christ for the Spanish Inquisition. If parents were allowed to teach their children
to read the Bible, there would be fewer tyrants, and they would have no excuse for
increasing their power because there would be so few heretical writings. Every act by the
State to prohibit the spread of the Gospel creates more excuses for the State to increase
>"The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning.
> And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or
> dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate,
> the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently
> endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth
> in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof,
> and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm
> about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes."
[John Adams, letter to John Taylor]
This diatribe against clergy has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of whether
America is a nation "under God." At the time
the Constitution was being ratified, Adams was for all intents and purposes a Puritan.
Adams regarded Thomas Paine as an "insolent
Blasphemer of things sacred and a transcendent Libeller of all that is good," and
declared that "It is indeed a disgrace to the moral Character and the Understanding
of this Age, that this worthless fellow should be believed in any thing. But Impudence and
Malice will always find Admirers." (Diary, ed. Butterfield, Harvard Univ Press 1962,
IV:5-6). Adams mentions the belief that Paine's pamphlets were of major importance in the
War for Independence, but he says, "I doubted it at the time, and have doubted it to
this day." III:330-34.
>"God has infinite wisdom, goodness and power; he created the universe; his
> duration is eternal, a parte ante and a parte post. His presence is as
> extensive as space. What is space? An infinite spherical vacuum. He created
> this speck of dirt and the human species for his glory; and with deliberate
> design of making nine-tenths of our species miserable for ever for his glory.
> This is the doctrine of Christian theologians, in general, ten to one. Now, my
> friend, can prophecies or miracles convince you or me that infinite
> benevolence, wisdom, and power, created, and preserves for a time innumerable
> millions, to make them miserable forever, for his own glory? Wretch! What is
> his glory? Is he ambitious? Does he want promotion? Is he vain, tickled with
> adulation, exulting and triumphing in his power and the sweetness of his
> vengeance? Pardon me, my Maker, for these awful questions. My answer to them
> is always ready. _I believe no such things_. My adoration of the author of the
> universe is too profound and too sincere. The love of God and his
> creation-delight, joy, triumph, exultation in my own existance- though but an
> atom, a molecule organique in the universe- are my religion".
> [John Adams, in a latter to Jefferson, Sept. 14, 1813,
> "Christianity and the Constitution: The
Founding faith of our Fathers"
> John Eidsmoe ISBN: 0-8010-3444-2]
Howl, snarl, bite, ye Calvinistic, ye Athanasian divines, if you will; ye will say I am
no Christian; I say ye are no Christians, and there the account is balanced. Yet I believe
all the honest men among you are Christians, in my sense of the word.
During this same period Adams wrote to F.A. Van der Kemp, "My religion is founded
on the love of God and my neighbor; on the hope of pardon for my offences; upon
contrition; upon the duty as well as the necessity of supporting with patience the
inevitable evils of life; in the duty of doing no wrong, but all the good I can, to the
creation of which I am but an infinitesimal part. [July 13, 1815; reprinted in Cousins, In
God We Trust, p. 104] These comments only indicate that Adams questioned the doctrine
of the Trinity and the belief that only those who accept Christianity shall have a place
in heaven -- he did not renounce Christianity. . . . He told Jefferson in 1816, "Conclude not from all this that I have
renounced the Christian religion, or that I agree with Dupuis in all his sentiments Far
from it. I see in every page something to recommend Christianity in its purity,
and something to discredit its corruption.
Adams joined many other Founding Fathers in
their praise for pure Christianity and their criticism of clerical corruptions of Jesus'
message. Does this mean Adams believed, with the ACLU, that the federal judiciary has the
power to order municipal schools to remove prayer and the Ten Commandments from
Whoever put together these quotes from
Madison, apparently drawing from Eidsmoe's book, is purely malicious. Eidsmoe's book
contains a fine chapter on Adams which shows that he did not endorse the ACLU's war on
Christianity. Adams' words are egregiously ripped out of context by this atheist.