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Faith of the founders considered

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Several letters recently have stated that we can’t know what our country’s founding fathers believed yet on the other hand are certain that none of them were Christians.

One might as well claim the sun rises in the West. Let me illustrate. Robert Paine, Lyman Hall and John Witherspoon were ministers. Francis Hopkinson wrote a famous hymnal.   Benjamin Rush started the American Sunday School Movement and the first Bible Society. Roger Sherman, the only man to sign all four of America’s founding documents, wrote the doctrinal creed for his denomination.

The pervasiveness of Christianity throughout the fabric of American life can hardly be overstated. Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland and North Carolina were among the states that required all candidates for public office to profess belief in Jesus Christ. Virginia had an official religion and taxed its citizens to support it, as did three fourths of the states. Over 95 percent of America’s first 135 colleges were founded by Christian churches. Princeton’s motto was and is, “Under God’s Power She Flourishes.” Harvard’s was, “For Christ and Church.” In the Revolutionary War, the Committees of Correspondence had the password, “No King but King Jesus.” The official proposals for the Seal of America were Moses dividing the Red Sea with the motto “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.” The other was the Children of Israel in the Wilderness led by a pillar of fire.

How can we know the founders beliefs? We know the same way we know now. We read the writings, letters and speeches they left behind. We have thousands upon thousands of pages filled with their thoughts. At the Constitutional Convention, James Madison kept prolific notes of every discussion. Rather than propose outlandish motives to the founders, why not let the founders speak for themselves?  

Al Onsager

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