The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians
by Steven Morris,
in Free Inquiry, Fall, 1995

found at:
and probably elsewhere.

Morris' Article

Our Response

"The Christian right is trying to rewrite the history of the United States as part of its campaign to force its religion on others. They try to depict the founding fathers as pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity. We admit we're trying to rewrite the modern history of America. The modern history is itself a re-writing of earlier, Christian histories. Virtually every history written before 1900 accurately depicted "the founding fathers as pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity."

"Force its religion on others."   A conservative community wants to have a religious leader lead an invocation at a Graduation ceremony. Attendance at the ceremony is not required. One atheist does not want to hear a prayer, so the ACLU and the Soopreme Court tell an entire football stadium full of people that they cannot pray. This happens again and again. And Morris accuses the "Christian Right" of trying to "force its religion on others." It is the secular left that is doing the imposing, and their religion is the religion of Secular Humanism. The secular left does not want believers to have religious freedom.

All nations are theocracies. All law is an expression of ultimate values, and these religious values can come from the Creator or the creation. The Religion of Secular Humanism worships Man, and the god of the theocracy of modern liberalism is Man as incarnate in the State.

The Founding Fathers intended America to be a Christian Theocracy, not a secular man-centered theocracy; a nation "under God," the God of the Christian Bible. They did not believe in a government by priests or clergy, and they intended the nation to have a government of very limited powers. Atheistic liberals, believing in a government of almost unlimited powers, feel threatened by the idea of a Christian government. Think "Anarcho-Theocracy." 

This is patently untrue. No, it's demonstrably true. Just continue reading, or check out the links here and here.
The early presidents and patriots were generally Deists or Unitarians, believing in some form of impersonal Providence but rejecting the divinity of Jesus and the absurdities of the Old and New testaments. This statement does not contradict the depiction of the Founders in early history texts or modern Christian revisions. This statement does not even contradict the author's own statement above, highlighted in yellow.
  1. None of the Founders were "deists" as modern Americans understand that term; not even Ben Franklin.
  2. Unitarians in those days were more like Jerry Falwell than the ACLU
  3. Not a single one believed in an "impersonal" providence. They believed in a personal God. Read what they meant by "Providence."

Morris has, in a mere two paragraphs, conclusively shown himself to be a propagandist, not an objective historian.

Thomas Paine was a pamphleteer whose manifestos encouraged the faltering spirits of the country and aided materially in winning the war of Independence:
I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of...Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."
The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, pp. 8,9 (Republished 1984, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY)
Paine's greatest influence came from his book Common Sense, which argued for separation from Britain, often on Scriptural grounds. He apostatized after writing that book, and most of the other Founders listed in this article opposed Paine's Age of Reason. Read their comments here. They predicted no good would come from his anti-Christian book. They were right: Paine died in poverty and ignominy.
George Washington, the first president of the United States, never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence.  Thomas Jefferson did say "I am a Christian," but secularists don't accept that, so it wouldn't have made much difference if Washington had said the same thing. The point is that Washington officially and publicly endorsed the Christian religion, which the ACLU says a President must never do. When the Chiefs of the Delaware Indians came to Washington to ask for assistance in educating their youth to become civilized, Washington said:

You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. . . . Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.
The Writings of GeoWashington, Jared Sparks, ed., (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1838) XV:55, from his speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs, May 12, 1779.

In his handwritten prayer book, which he carried with him, the Name "Jesus Christ" appears sixteen times, and also appeared numerous times in varied forms, including "Lord Jesus."

On May 2, 1778, when the Continental Army was beginning to emerge from its infamous winter at Valley Forge, Commander-in-Chief Geo Washington commended his troops for their courage and patriotism and then reminded them:

While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.
(Writings, (1932) XI:342-343, General Orders of 5/2/1778)

US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall said of Washington,

[H]e was a sincere believer in the Christian faith and a truly devout man.

Gunning Bedford, who signed the Constitution, gave Washington's funeral oration, in which he said

To the character of hero and patriot, this good man added that of Christian. . . . Although the greatest man upon earth, he disdained not to humble himself before his God and to trust in the mercies of Christ. 

More on Washington here and here

Washington Championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion. Right. As though Christians champion the cause of religious bigotry and iron-fisted tyranny. The "intolerance" Washington opposed was opposed by all Christians who opposed the use of the State and the sword to protect one denomination from competition by other denominations.
When John Murray (a universalist who denied the existence of hell) was invited to become an army chaplain, the other chaplains petitioned Washington for his dismissal. Instead, Washington gave him the appointment.  A "universalist" believes that Jesus paid the price for everyone, even non-Christians. Appointing a Christian universalist to promote religion is a clear violation of the "separation of church and state," according to the ACLU.
On his deathbed, Washinton [sic] uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance.
George Washington and Religion by Paul F. Boller Jr., pp. 16, 87, 88, 108, 113, 121, 127 (1963, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, TX)
George Washington's adopted daughter, having spent twenty years of her life in his presence, declared that one might as well question Washington's patriotism as question his Christianity:

After forty years of devoted affection and uninterrupted happiness, [Martha Washington] resigned him without a murmur into the arms of his Savior and his God, with the assured hope of his eternal felicity. 
in Jared Sparks, editor, The Writings of George Washington, (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, Publisher, 1838), Vol. XII, pp. 399-411

Please keep all clergymen away from my deathbed (unless they happen to be my friends in spite of their being clergy).

John Adams, the country's second president, was drawn to the study of law but faced pressure from his father to become a clergyman. He wrote that he found among the lawyers 'noble and gallant achievments" [sic] but among the clergy, the "pretended sanctity of some absolute dunces".  Criticisms of the religious leaders of his day by John Adams were exceeded only by the criticisms of the religious leaders of His day by Jesus Christ. I hope history records that I was just as anti-clerical as these two Christians.

Vine & Fig Tree's Anti-Church Home Page

Late in life he wrote: "Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!" This is another falsification which discredits Morris as a reliable authority. 
First, this again refers to Adams' frustration over competing ecclesiastical bodies, not Christianity itself.
Second, as with everything else in this article, the quote is taken out of a context in which the meaning is exactly the opposite of that imputed to it by Morris. This statement appears in Adams's letter to Thomas Jefferson on April 19, 1817, in which Adams recounted a conversation between Joseph Cleverly and Lemuel Bryant a schoolmaster and a minister he had known. Disgusted by the petty religious bickering displayed by those two, Adams declared to Jefferson: 

Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell. 
John Adams, Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1856), Vol. X, p. 254. 

It was during Adam's administration that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which states in Article XI that "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."
The Character of John Adams by Peter Shaw, pp. 17 (1976, North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC) Quoting a letter by JA to Charles Cushing Oct 19, 1756, and John Adams, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by James Peabody, p. 403 (1973, Newsweek, New York NY) Quoting letter by JA to Jefferson April 19, 1817, and in reference to the treaty, Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim by Alf Mapp Jr., pp. 311 (1991, Madison Books, Lanham, MD) quoting letter by TJ to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, June, 1814.

Adams also wrote the 1783 Peace Treaty which ended the American Revolution. It begins with these words:

IN the name of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.
It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts . . . .

Get the facts on the Treaty of Tripoli

Thomas Jefferson, third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, said: "I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian." He referred to the Revelation of St. John as "the ravings of a maniac" and wrote:
The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticisms of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power, and pre-eminence. The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them: and for this obvious reason that nonsense can never be explained."
Thomas Jefferson, an Intimate History by Fawn M. Brodie, p. 453 (1974, W.W) Norton and Co. Inc. New York, NY) Quoting a letter by TJ to Alexander Smyth Jan 17, 1825, and Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim by Alf Mapp Jr., pp. 246 (1991, Madison Books, Lanham, MD) quoting letter by TJ to John Adams, July 5, 1814.
Unitarians in those days were closer to Jerry Falwell than the ACLU

Again, Jefferson criticized the clergy, but considered himself to be a true Christian.

Get the facts on Jefferson.

James Madison, fourth president and father of the Constitution, was not religious in any conventional sense. "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."
"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

The Madisons by Virginia Moore, P. 43 (1979, McGraw-Hill Co. New York, NY) quoting a letter by JM to William Bradford April 1, 1774, and James Madison, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by Joseph Gardner, p. 93, (1974, Newsweek, New York, NY) Quoting Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments by JM, June 1785.
Madison's criticisms are directed at clerical abuses, not the truth of Christianity. Madison said all legislation should be evaluated on how well it advances the Christian faith. He called non-Christian religions "false religions." Read how he used the office of President to advance Christianity, in violation of the modern myth of "separation of church and state."
Ethan Allen, whose capture of Fort Ticonderoga while commanding the Green Mountain Boys helped inspire Congress and the country to pursue the War of Independence, said, "That Jesus Christ was not God is evidence from his own words." In the same book, Allen noted that he was generally "denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious that I am no Christian." When Allen married Fanny Buchanan, he stopped his own wedding ceremony when the judge asked him if he promised "to live with Fanny Buchanan agreeable to the laws of God." Allen refused to answer until the judge agreed that the God referred to was the God of Nature, and the laws those "written in the great book of nature."
Religion of the American Enlightenment by G. Adolph Koch, p. 40 (1968, Thomas Crowell Co., New York, NY.) quoting preface and p. 352 of Reason, the Only Oracle of Man and A Sense of History compiled by American Heritage Press Inc., p. 103 (1985, American Heritage Press, Inc., New York, NY.)
Ethan Allen's revolutionary influence came when he was a Christian. Late in the evening on May 9, 1775, Allen and his Green Mountain Boys approached the unsuspecting garrison, quietly capturing the sentries and securing the barracks of sleeping British soldiers. Allen then pushed on to camp headquarters and roused the commandant, Capt. De La Place.

Allen himself described what next occurred:

[T]he Captain came immediately to the door with his small clothes in his hand -- when I ordered him to deliver to me the fort, instantly. He asked me by what authority I demanded it. I answered him -- "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"
Memoir of Col. Ethan Allen Hugh Moore, ed. (Plattsburgh, NY: O.R.Cook, 1834), pp. 94-95.

The War for Independence was fought by Christian patriots, led by Christian leaders.

Benjamin Franklin, delegate to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, said:
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion...has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his Divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the Truth with less trouble." He died a month later, and historians consider him, like so many great Americans of his time, to be a Deist, not a Christian.
Benjamin Franklin, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by Thomas Fleming, p. 404, (1972, Newsweek, New York, NY) quoting letter by BF to Exra Stiles March 9, 1970.
Ben Franklin, whatever he was, was not a deist. Read his remarks in the Constitutional Convention. They clearly and unmistakably show that he did not believe in the modern myth of "separation of church and state." He was at least a theist. Consider his remark about shortly having an opportunity to know the Truth. That proves a belief in God and an after-life. His self-written epitaph read:

The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its Contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding, lies here, food for worms. But the work shall not be lost; for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author." 

Franklin believed that that Christianity was the foundation of our laws, and should be promoted by the government. In Benjamin Franklin's 1749 plan of education for public schools in Pennsylvania, he insisted that schools teach "the necessity of a public religion . . . and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern." Consider also the fact that Franklin proposed a Biblical inscription for the Seal of the United States; that he chose a New Testament verse for the motto of the Philadelphia Hospital; that he was one of the chief voices behind the establishment of a paid chaplain in Congress; and that in 1787 when Franklin helped found the college which bore his name, it was dedicated as "a nursery of religion and learning" built "on Christ, the Corner-Stone." 

The words "In God We Trust" were not consistently on all U.S. currency until 1956, during the McCarthy Hysteria.

"Consistently" in someone's opinion; a hedge against the fact that it was first ordered on coins during Lincoln's administration, and reflects the views of everyone who Signed the Constitution.

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Another critique:
The Founding Fathers Were NOT Christians or Secular Humanists: a Refutation of Steven Morris

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