Friday, July 04, 2008

If A Nation's God Is The Lord

Christians sometimes suggest that Christianity was more influential in America's founding than it actually was. But proponents of a more secularized view of history or government often respond by going too far in the opposite direction. In reality, although many non-Christian influences were involved in the founding of the nation, and many of the founders held unorthodox theological beliefs, for example, the influence of Christianity was substantial, and America's founders were closer to today's religious right than today's secular left.

"I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation." (George Washington)

"The general Principles, on which the Fathers Atchieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their Address, or by me in my Answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence. 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" (John Adams, The Adams-Jefferson Letters, Lester J. Cappon, ed. [Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 1987], pp. 339-340)

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