Christianity was central for founders
(Letter to the editor of the Daily Herald)
Was America founded as a Christian nation? The most vocal proponents of a completely secular state necessarily cherry-pick data to prove exaggerations while discarding inconvenient details.
They would portray the founders as rank secularists and wish to reduce religious liberty to allowing believers to pray in their hovels, but not in public.
In the book “The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders,” Dr. Gregg Frazier suggests designations of deist or Christian are too simple. He describes the primary beliefs of core founders as “theistic rationalism.” Frazier notes, “They took elements of Christianity and elements of natural religion and then, using rationalism, they kept what they thought was reasonable, was rational, and rejected what they considered to be irrational.”
Christians were well represented among the founders: Patrick Henry, Virginia’s governor; John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; Robert Sherman, who helped draft the Declaration of Independence; John Hancock, John Witherspoon, Samuel Adams and many other believers who played a prominent part.
The founding documents of every one of the original 13 colonies reveal them to be awash in the concepts of Christianity and God. All thought the Bible essential for a just and harmonious society. As historian John Fea notes, “If John Adams’ humiliating Treaty of Tripoli with the Barbary Pirates is correct, and the United States was not ‘founded on the Christian religion,’ then someone forgot to tell the American people. The idea that the United States is a ‘Christian nation,’ has always been central to American identity.”
Liberty allows us to worship freely or not at all — per conscience. America was never meant to be theocratic or homogeneous religiously, but Christianity has always been indelible to our social fabric. The founders, even nonbelievers, considered that a blessing.
South Barrington IL
CCI Editor’s note: Mrs. Sawicki is a member of the Board of Directors of Catholic Citizens of Illinois.