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Most Founding Fathers not Deists

heart_of_the_matter
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10/29/2009 11:52:15 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Most of the Founding Fathers of the USA were NOT Deists

I am trying to correct what I believe to be a commonly held misconception. I had kind of wanted to debate this with someone and still might, but the topic seems to lend itself more to a forum topic than a debate(?)
-----------
Deism
a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Deist
Noun
1. A person who believes that God created the universe and then abandoned it.
http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org...

To state it in very simple terms a Deist is a person who believes that God exists but that He does NOT intervene in the affairs of men.

I think the main misunderstanding people have is that they believe that Deism means that a person simply believes in God. But there is that additional part of the actual definition that makes all difference, there is one key important distinction that needs to be made: Deists believe that God will not intervene to help mankind!
And I believe most of the Founding Fathers believed in a God who DOES intervene!
=================
I wanted to start with 15 Famous Founding Fathers:

Famous Signers of the Declaration of Independence:
1. Benjamin Franklin
2. John Hancock
3. John Adams
4. Samuel Adams
5. Thomas Jefferson
-------------
Famous Delegates to the Constitutional Convention (who were not previously identified as a FF)
Delegates who signed:
6. Alexander Hamilton
7. George Washington (president of the Convention)
8. James Madison

Delegates who refused to sign:
9. George Mason
------------------------

10. James Monroe, Continental Congressman and fifth President of the United States
11. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States
12. John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States.
13. Patrick Henry
14. Thomas Paine, who went on to champion the French Revolution in his Rights of Man.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

15. DANIEL BOONE, REVOLUTIONARY OFFICER; LEGISLATOR
http://toulonbaptist.com...
============================
Founding Fathers Beliefs:

1. Benjamin Franklin
He suggested to the Constitutional Congress to pray for God's help. A deist would not believe that God would intervene. Franklin did believe God intervenes. Therefore he was not a Deist (remember the definition of deism!).

"...how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. -- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men."
http://www.americanrhetoric.com...

2. John Hancock
John Hancock was identified as a Congregationalist by The Congregationalist Library.
http://www.adherents.com...

Congregationalism
2. Congregationalism The system of government and religious beliefs of a Protestant denomination in which each member church is self-governing.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

3. John Adams
President John Adams was a devout Unitarian, which was a non-trinitarian Protestant Christian denomination during the Colonial era.

He was identified as a Congregationalist by The Congregationalist Library.
http://www.adherents.com...

4. Samuel Adams
While he was governor he called for a day of public fasting and prayer for God's grace and intervention in behalf of the nation:

"THE supreme Ruler of the Universe, having been pleased, in the course of His Providence, to establish the Independence of the United States of America, and to cause them to assume their rank, amount the nations of the Earth, and bless them with Liberty, Peace and Plenty; we ought to be led by Religious feelings of Gratitude; and to walk before Him, in all Humility, according to His most Holy Law. - But, as the depravity of our Hearts has, in so many instances drawn us aside from the path of duty, so that we have frequently offended our Divine and Merciful Benefactor; it is therefore highly incumbent on us, according to the ancient and laudable practice of our pious Ancestors, to open the year by a public and solemn Fast. - That with true repentance and contrition of Heart, we may unitedly implore the forgiveness of our Sins, through the merits of Jesus Christ, and humbly supplicate our Heavenly Father, to grant us the aids of His Grace, for the amendment of our Hearts and Lives, and vouchsafe His smiles upon our temporal concerns:..."
http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com...

5. Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson offered public prayers to Almighty God, in the name of Jesus Christ, praying for God to bless our nation. These actions show that Jefferson believed in a God who can and does intervene in the lives of men, thus making him not a deist.

"Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage, we humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.
Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
-Thomas Jefferson, The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson
http://www.prayercampaign2008.com...

6. Alexander Hamilton
"I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man." -Alexander Hamilton

His last words were:
"I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me."
http://www.faithofourfathers.net...

7. George Washington
It is clear that George Washington believed that God intervened in the affairs of men. His first official act was to ask God to bless the nation.

George Washington took the oath of office for the presidency on April 30, 1789. From his inaugural address:
"Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aide can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the
heart_of_the_matter
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10/29/2009 11:55:06 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Here is the rest of the George Washington quote (I ran out of characters...)

George Washington took the oath of office for the presidency on April 30, 1789. From his inaugurational address:

"Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aide can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes; and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge...."

http://www.ushistory.org...

I never did get around to research the others belief's yet...(maybe somebody else could)(?)

8. James Madison -
9. George Mason -
10. James Monroe -
11. John Jay -
12. John Marshall -
13. Patrick Henry -
14. Thomas Paine -
15. Daniel Boone -

anyway, so there it is....why I don't think calling the Founding Fathers "Deists" is accurate.
GeoLaureate8
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10/30/2009 12:03:16 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
I don't think it really matters whether they believe God intervenes or not. The point is that they disbelieve any God of the religions, and even detested religious gods. I still consider them Deists, despite some definitions. I think Deist is the best way to describe anyone who merely believes in God with no theology attached.

.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Volkov
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10/30/2009 12:06:16 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
You know something I've wondered.... who cares?

So George Washington and others weren't deists. What does it matter? How do the religious beliefs of men that lives hundreds of years matter now? Because they wrote the Constitution and etc.?

Well, thats all well and fine, but when I'm looking for answers to questions of state legitimacy, I don't ask myself whether or not Franklin was a Christian, because it has basically zero bearing upon what is occurring today.

The only reason for ever being curious about it is because of interpretation, so there is a status quo to work from, and then break. Otherwise, who gives a flying f*ck other than those too stunted to seek answers in the present, rather than the past.
Danielle
Posts: 21,330
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10/30/2009 12:21:53 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 12:06:16 AM, Volkov wrote:

Well, thats all well and fine, but when I'm looking for answers to questions of state legitimacy, I don't ask myself whether or not Franklin was a Christian, because it has basically zero bearing upon what is occurring today.

That's because you're a rational human being. You'd be surprised at how many people still define the U.S. as a "Christian nation" simply because our founding father were Christian (according to them!). Plus, determining that they were Christian is used as the basis for interpreting certain laws and the Constitution a bunch of the time. It's bogus.
President of DDO
tkubok
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10/30/2009 6:28:32 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/29/2009 11:55:06 PM, heart_of_the_matter wrote:
Here is the rest of the George Washington quote (I ran out of characters...)

George Washington took the oath of office for the presidency on April 30, 1789. From his inaugurational address:

"Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aide can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes; and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge...."

http://www.ushistory.org...

I never did get around to research the others belief's yet...(maybe somebody else could)(?)

8. James Madison -
9. George Mason -
10. James Monroe -
11. John Jay -
12. John Marshall -
13. Patrick Henry -
14. Thomas Paine -
15. Daniel Boone -

anyway, so there it is....why I don't think calling the Founding Fathers "Deists" is accurate.

Cool story bro.

Heres something you missed:
"My parents had early given me religious impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the Dissenting way. But I was scarce fifteen, when, after doubting by turns of several points, as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."-Benjamin Franklin
Floid
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10/30/2009 8:06:02 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
First off, when people start claiming "The Founding Fathers were Christians" they have already missed the point. The Founding Fathers intended for a separation of church and state, so their religion is irrelevant. They did not intend for their religion to be integrated with the government or its laws.

Well, here is a correction for two more:

Thomas Jefferson -

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.
-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

Now Thomas Paine. Well he wrote "The Age of Reason", so I guess it is obvious what he thought about religion. He was by far the most outspoken of the founding fathers about religion (given that he published a book about it) and you could probably consider "The Age of Reason" almost a deist Bible.

But like I said, the Founding Father's religion doesn't really matter... what matters is what influence and connection they thought proper between religion and state. Perhaps the best reading on that can be found in Locke's "A Letter Concerning Toleration" which clearly defines where the line should be drawn between the two.
JBlake
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10/30/2009 8:26:13 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/29/2009 11:52:15 PM, heart_of_the_matter wrote:
Famous Signers of the Declaration of Independence:
1. Benjamin Franklin
2. John Hancock
3. John Adams
4. Samuel Adams
5. Thomas Jefferson
-------------
Famous Delegates to the Constitutional Convention (who were not previously identified as a FF)
Delegates who signed:
6. Alexander Hamilton
7. George Washington (president of the Convention)
8. James Madison

Delegates who refused to sign:
9. George Mason
------------------------

10. James Monroe, Continental Congressman and fifth President of the United States
11. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States
12. John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States.
13. Patrick Henry
14. Thomas Paine, who went on to champion the French Revolution in his Rights of Man.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

15. DANIEL BOONE, REVOLUTIONARY OFFICER; LEGISLATOR
http://toulonbaptist.com...

I am not going to engage in quote mining, as you have done. The explanation for why one or two quotations by these men exist that sound Christian is because at the time this is what was expected from them. I don't have the time to once again research this topic and correct you. Instead:

1. Definitely Deist
2. Deist leaning
3. Deist
4. Christian
5. Definitely Deist (He r published the Christian bible and took out all miracles and claims of Jesus' divinity)
6. Christian
7. Deist leaning
8. Deist
9. Deist leaning
10. Not a founding father.
11. Christian
12. Not a founding father.
13. Christian
14. Definitely Deist
15. Not a founding father

@Volkov
The agenda for anyone claiming the religion of the founding fathers as Christians is clear - the pronouncement of the U.S. as a 'Christian Nation'. I agree you that their religion does not and should not matter. But if we allow theists to hijack history like this, we essentially concede the point.
JBlake
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10/30/2009 8:29:35 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
Floid makes a great point. Regardless of their religious beliefs, the founders intended the government to be secular and divorced of religion. That much is quite clear.
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 11:43:11 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 12:03:16 AM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
I don't think it really matters whether they believe God intervenes or not. The point is that they disbelieve any God of the religions, and even detested religious gods. I still consider them Deists, despite some definitions. I think Deist is the best way to describe anyone who merely believes in God with no theology attached.

.

Some definitely believed in the "God of the religions" and others believed in a more "generic God" (who is over all) ---BUT who DOES intervene ---thus my point!

I don't think there is evidence that they "detested religious gods" (?)

I don't think it would be logical to call them "Deists" if they believe God intervenes in the affairs of men...Wouldn't the term "Theist" be more appropriate?.
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 11:56:25 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 12:06:16 AM, Volkov wrote:
You know something I've wondered.... who cares?

So George Washington and others weren't deists. What does it matter? How do the religious beliefs of men that lives hundreds of years matter now? Because they wrote the Constitution and etc.?

Well, thats all well and fine, but when I'm looking for answers to questions of state legitimacy, I don't ask myself whether or not Franklin was a Christian, because it has basically zero bearing upon what is occurring today.

The only reason for ever being curious about it is because of interpretation, so there is a status quo to work from, and then break. Otherwise, who gives a flying f*ck other than those too stunted to seek answers in the present, rather than the past.

As far as having relevance today, maybe it does and maybe it doesn't ---Lwerd brought up a good point about interpreting certain laws and the Constitution...wouldn't "original intent" come into play??

I pretty much am just trying to find out if the term "Deist" is being used correctly...because I am tired of hearing so much about how the founding fathers were mostly all "Deists" and it does not seem to be the case to me. I am interested in this point (whether it is true or not) ...the implications ...are well...something for me to think about later...if it matters at all to me...Pretty much I want to know if it is true or not...so that when I speak I can know what I am talking about. I don't pretend to know the answer yet.

your quote "those too stunted to seek answers in the present, rather than the past."

reminded me of the quote by Santayana "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,"
if the answers are already there by studying history, why would we need to waste time trying to figure it out?
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 12:02:14 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 6:28:32 AM, tkubok wrote:
At 10/29/2009 11:55:06 PM, heart_of_the_matter wrote:
Here is the rest of the George Washington quote (I ran out of characters...)

George Washington took the oath of office for the presidency on April 30, 1789. From his inaugurational address:

"Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aide can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes; and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge...."

http://www.ushistory.org...

I never did get around to research the others belief's yet...(maybe somebody else could)(?)

8. James Madison -
9. George Mason -
10. James Monroe -
11. John Jay -
12. John Marshall -
13. Patrick Henry -
14. Thomas Paine -
15. Daniel Boone -

anyway, so there it is....why I don't think calling the Founding Fathers "Deists" is accurate.

Cool story bro.

Heres something you missed:
"My parents had early given me religious impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the Dissenting way. But I was scarce fifteen, when, after doubting by turns of several points, as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."-Benjamin Franklin

Ok. thanks. I'll put Benjamin Franklin as 'undecided' for now, since I have quotes pertaining to him on both sides now. Would you mind sharing your source for that?

I would ask though how you would explain what Franklin said there in the quote I listed....it seems to me quite plain that he is talking about a God who intervenes in the affairs of men...wouldn't you agree?
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 12:16:28 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 8:06:02 AM, Floid wrote:
First off, when people start claiming "The Founding Fathers were Christians" they have already missed the point. The Founding Fathers intended for a separation of church and state, so their religion is irrelevant. They did not intend for their religion to be integrated with the government or its laws.

Well, here is a correction for two more:

Thomas Jefferson -

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.
-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom


And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823


Now Thomas Paine. Well he wrote "The Age of Reason", so I guess it is obvious what he thought about religion. He was by far the most outspoken of the founding fathers about religion (given that he published a book about it) and you could probably consider "The Age of Reason" almost a deist Bible.


But like I said, the Founding Father's religion doesn't really matter... what matters is what influence and connection they thought proper between religion and state. Perhaps the best reading on that can be found in Locke's "A Letter Concerning Toleration" which clearly defines where the line should be drawn between the two.

Ok. I'll clarify again, that I'm not after the "implications" right now anyway...of if the USA is a Christian nation or not, or what the separation of Church and state is about. I am very interested in those subjects, but this subject alone about if the Founders were Deists is a large enough topic in and of itself it seems, for me to start with. I do appreciate the references though.

Thank you for the 2 ideas on the founders...As far as Thomas Paine, well that is easy, I hadn't even looked him up yet, so I will start by putting him down as a Deist (until I or someone else challenges that assertion). As far as Thomas Jefferson, I wanted to point out that the way he understood the role of religion in the government was basically just that the FEDERAL government was not supposed to be involved. As a governor he actually called for a day of fasting and prayer at one point ( I believe it was him)...also are you ignoring my quote (above) or what do you make of that? Your 2nd quote seems to show that he wasn't Christian...but that wouldn't automatically make him a "Deist"...he did seem to still believe in a God who intervenes in the lives of men right?
also with Jefferson I have heard that his religious view changed during his life...therefore I think we must examine the time frame on his beliefs more closely.
but I will put him down as a ? until I get more info to make a more accurate decision.
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 12:38:36 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 8:26:13 AM, JBlake wrote:
I am not going to engage in quote mining, as you have done. The explanation for why one or two quotations by these men exist that sound Christian is because at the time this is what was expected from them. I don't have the time to once again research this topic and correct you. Instead:

1. Definitely Deist
2. Deist leaning
3. Deist
4. Christian
5. Definitely Deist (He r published the Christian bible and took out all miracles and claims of Jesus' divinity)
6. Christian
7. Deist leaning
8. Deist
9. Deist leaning
10. Not a founding father.
11. Christian
12. Not a founding father.
13. Christian
14. Definitely Deist
15. Not a founding father

thanks. hmmm...as far as "quote mining" I'm just trying to get a start...a "feel" of who was what...and since I made the claim that they WERE NOT Deists, I just thought I should put some kind of reason down as to why I thought that...

As far as "non-founding fathers" I would like you to explain then why wikipedia (link above) listed these 2 as founding fathers...and why you think they don't qualify as such.
10. James Monroe
12. John Marshall

#15. Daniel Boone...I would ask if you knew that he was a congressman? (3 terms in Virginia),(he was also an explorer and a militia officer) he was also an iconic figure in American history...he was famous in America and Europe.
What reasons would you give to drop him from the list?

I will put down the answers you gave for the men I didn't have anything written down for...as a starting point of inquiry. and the men who you listed as "Christian" I will list as "undisputed" that they were not Deists...unless/until other people feel the need to challenge those...that will help to focus in on the controversial ones better...so I will work on making a new updated list now of where it stands (in my opinion) as of now.
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 12:47:26 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Updated list:

1. Benjamin Franklin = disputed (*3)
2. John Hancock = disputed
3. John Adams = disputed
4. Samuel Adams = Christian
5. Thomas Jefferson = disputed (*3)
6. Alexander Hamilton = Christian
7. George Washington = disputed
8. James Madison = Deist
9. George Mason = Deist (leaning)
10. James Monroe = unknown (disputed as a FF)
11. John Jay = Christian
12. John Marshall = unknown (disputed as a FF)
13. Patrick Henry = Christian
14. Thomas Paine = Deist
15. Daniel Boone = unknown (disputed as a FF)

just as a starting point...
JBlake
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10/30/2009 1:11:23 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
I can't answer why wikipedia might list them among the founding fathers. The only think I can come up with is a lack of knowledge on the writer's part.

To answer the question we must determine what makes someone a 'founding father'. Someone is a founding father is they took part in declaring independence for the thirteen colonies, and/or the founding of the government.

That immediately removes Daniel Boone from that list. He took part in the fighting, but he was not involved in separating the nation, nor in building the government afterwards. If we include him, then we must include all soldier and state legislators, regardless of contribution to the founding of the U.S.

What about James Monroe and John Marshall? They were both delegates to the ratifying convention in VA, the former as an anti-federalist, the latter as a federalist. Neither of them played a significant role in ratification. I suppose you could consider them as founders for merely sitting there -- but they did not play a role in building the government. Their careers didn't take off until much after the nation was already founded.

Generally, you could identify all of them as among the founding generation. But in determining the intent of the founders on the issue you have brought up, they are useless. They did not take part in the founding of the nation; they were not architects in the design of the government - especially Daniel Boone. There are many more men who would be better to examine for that purpose. Some of whom were deeply religious.
JBlake
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10/30/2009 1:14:45 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Allow me to correct myself. John Marshall did play a significant role in ratification. So let's put him back as a founder. Oops.
JBlake
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10/30/2009 1:22:46 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At any rate, I don't have any idea what the religious beliefs of Boone were. Marshall was probably Christian. Monroe was deist leaning.
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 1:48:33 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 1:22:46 PM, JBlake wrote:
At any rate, I don't have any idea what the religious beliefs of Boone were. Marshall was probably Christian. Monroe was deist leaning.

Ok thanks for the udpdate...what do you want to do with Monroe? FF or not?
I will drop Daniel Boone (somewhat reluctantly because I had a cool story about him) but unless there are any objections he is off the list.

Updated list:

1. Benjamin Franklin = disputed (*3)
2. John Hancock = disputed
3. John Adams = disputed
4. Samuel Adams = Christian
5. Thomas Jefferson = disputed (*3)
6. Alexander Hamilton = Christian
7. George Washington = disputed
8. James Madison = Deist
9. George Mason = Deist (leaning)
10. James Monroe = Deist (leaning) (disputed as a FF)
11. John Jay = Christian
12. John Marshall = probably Christian
13. Patrick Henry = Christian
14. Thomas Paine = Deist
JBlake
Posts: 4,634
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10/30/2009 2:00:14 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
What is the purpose of compiling this list (if any)? If there is an interesting purpose, I'll propose some additions to your list of founders.
RoyLatham
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10/30/2009 2:53:34 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
The Deists were Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Paine. Those are of special importance because they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. There were certainly others with different religious beliefs who played significant roles in the Revolution. For example, William Penn was a Quaker and Ethan Allen was an atheist.

The Deist beliefs of the key founders is established by Gaustaud in his book http://www.amazon.com... The book includes quotations from letters among them and by people who knew them. For example, George Washington attended a Presbyterian church, but the minister of that church stated flatly, "Washington was a Deist." Franklin underwent several changes in his religious beliefs during his life, so there are quite a variety of quotations. He ended up as a Deist. The beliefs of Paine are somewhat ambiguous. Sometimes he sounds like an atheist, but most likely he was a Deists.

The Deists of that era believed that God created the Universe and would one day return in judgment, reward those who had lived moral lives with eternity in heaven. However, they did not believe in revelation, miracles, or prayers being answered. To live a moral life, one had to derive and understand morality based upon the world. Jefferson was a strong advocate of Jesus as a moral philosopher, but denied the divinity of Christ. Jefferson believed that miralces were added to the Bible by a monk in the Fourth Century. Jefferson wrote a version of the Bible with the miracles edited out, believing the stories of miracles undercut the moral message.

Franklin struggled with the question, "Why would God want people to pray?" Ultimately, Franklin decided it was for the introspective benefit of person praying, not to please God or to get the prayers answered.

The Deist founders were generally quite favorable to Christianity and other religions, and believed that religion was necessary to convey moral teaching. That is often confused with thinking the founders had the same concept of God. Jefferson refused to authorize a national day of prayer, and the writings of Jefferson were banned from Philadelphia public libraries until 1840 on grounds he was as "atheist" -- meaning non-Christian.

The quotations that are assembled to try to prove the Founders to be Christian misunderstand the nature of the Deist beliefs and the approving relationship of the Deists with Christianity. Nonetheless, they held that the will of God was "self-evident" not revealed.
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 9:13:27 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 2:00:14 PM, JBlake wrote:
What is the purpose of compiling this list (if any)? If there is an interesting purpose, I'll propose some additions to your list of founders.

There is no real purpose...other than personal knowledge...So if someone says to me again (which WILL happen) that "Most of the Founding Fathers were not Christians...they were Deists.". Then I will be able to say either: Yes, that is true, or No, that is not true...and actually have an idea of what I am talking about. Ya...probably not the most inspiring motivation I realize, but that's pretty much where its at. I still would be interested in hearing your proposals of FF though.
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 9:20:16 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 2:53:34 PM, RoyLatham wrote:
The Deists were Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Paine. Those are of special importance because they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. There were certainly others with different religious beliefs who played significant roles in the Revolution. For example, William Penn was a Quaker and Ethan Allen was an atheist.

The Deist beliefs of the key founders is established by Gaustaud in his book http://www.amazon.com... The book includes quotations from letters among them and by people who knew them. For example, George Washington attended a Presbyterian church, but the minister of that church stated flatly, "Washington was a Deist." Franklin underwent several changes in his religious beliefs during his life, so there are quite a variety of quotations. He ended up as a Deist. The beliefs of Paine are somewhat ambiguous. Sometimes he sounds like an atheist, but most likely he was a Deists.

The Deists of that era believed that God created the Universe and would one day return in judgment, reward those who had lived moral lives with eternity in heaven. However, they did not believe in revelation, miracles, or prayers being answered. To live a moral life, one had to derive and understand morality based upon the world. Jefferson was a strong advocate of Jesus as a moral philosopher, but denied the divinity of Christ. Jefferson believed that miracles were added to the Bible by a monk in the Fourth Century. Jefferson wrote a version of the Bible with the miracles edited out, believing the stories of miracles undercut the moral message.

Franklin struggled with the question, "Why would God want people to pray?" Ultimately, Franklin decided it was for the introspective benefit of person praying, not to please God or to get the prayers answered.

The Deist founders were generally quite favorable to Christianity and other religions, and believed that religion was necessary to convey moral teaching. That is often confused with thinking the founders had the same concept of God. Jefferson refused to authorize a national day of prayer, and the writings of Jefferson were banned from Philadelphia public libraries until 1840 on grounds he was as "atheist" -- meaning non-Christian.

The quotations that are assembled to try to prove the Founders to be Christian misunderstand the nature of the Deist beliefs and the approving relationship of the Deists with Christianity. Nonetheless, they held that the will of God was "self-evident" not revealed.

Thanks RoyLatham for the great insights...I did however wonder if you read the quote by Washington at his inauguration..? What do you make of that? and do you accept the definition of Deist's believing in a God who doesn't intervene? - if so how would you reconcile his statement? (also I have some other examples of George Washington that I would like to bring up...that I think will show that He believed in a God who intervenes...which would make him a non-Deist)...so I will go ahead and try to find some of those examples...but in the meantime I will update the list according to your source/knowledge of the topic.
The idea of beliefs that change through a person's life is starting to come to the forefront as well, so that will probably have to be addressed at some point too.
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 9:29:44 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Updated list:

1. Benjamin Franklin = disputed (*4 for Deist)
2. John Hancock = disputed (*1 for non-Deist)
3. John Adams = disputed (*2 for Deist)
4. Samuel Adams = Christian
5. Thomas Jefferson = disputed (*4 for Deist)
6. Alexander Hamilton = Christian
7. George Washington = disputed (*2 for Deist)
8. James Madison = Deist
9. George Mason = Deist (leaning)(disputed *1 for non-Deist)
10. James Monroe = Deist (leaning)(disputed as a FF)(disputed *1 for non-Deist)
11. John Jay = Christian
12. John Marshall = probably Christian
13. Patrick Henry = Christian
14. Thomas Paine = Deist

(I added in the FF that RoyLatham did not specifically point out as "Deists" - making an assumption that by default the others were "non-Deists")
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 10:36:52 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Pertaining to George Washington - (not a Deist)

I would first start out citing events in the Revolutionary War to show that George Washington (and others) believed in a God who could and did intercede in their behalf (by definition this would make him "NOT a Deist").

The Battle of Yorktown (and the preceding events in particular)

The preceding events described start with strange weather...favorable to Washington and the cause of the patriots.
"As Washington grew as a leader and strategist, he did not hesitate to attribute his protection to "the gracious interposition of Heaven." 8 "

Another example:
"According to Carrington, "the wind and tide were so violent that even the seamen soldiers of Massachusetts could not spread a close reefed sail upon a single vessel; and the larger vessels, upon which so much depended, would have been swept to the ocean if once entrusted to the current." 11
Washington was urged to abandon the evacuation; but then, miraculously, the wind abruptly shifted, allowing the Americans to cross the river in the predawn hours. Nine thousand men were moved in that retreat, and historian Bart McDowell records that "after dawn, as the last of the army sailed away, one young captain noted that the boats moved under ‘the friendly cover of a thick fog,' "

Later, because of the situation of the war a day of fasting and humiliation was called for:
"Because of the distressing condition of the tattered but unbowed soldiers, the American Continental Congress on 11 December 1776 called for a day of fasting and humiliation: "Resolved, That it be recommended to all the United States, as soon as possible to appoint a day of solemn fasting and humiliation; to implore of Almighty God the forgiveness of the many sins prevailing among all ranks, and to beg the countenance and assistance of his Providence in the prosecution of the present just and necessary war." 18 "

Shortly after the resolution on fasting, important events occurred...

"Prodded by the approach of December 31—the expiration date of the enlistment of many of his troops—Washington decided to attack Trenton on Christmas Eve. And once again, the weather played a major role in the outcome of the battle. Washington advanced on Trenton on the night of December 24. There was a full moon that night, but his movements were cloaked by a "sky … so shrouded by dense clouds that darkness covered everything." 21 "

"This surprise victory, the first victory of the American forces, was a turning point in the war. It gave a needed morale boost to soldiers and citizens, restored confidence in Washington as commander, and caused foreign nations to take notice of American determination and abilities."

The war went on like this...the weather changing every which way that was needed to aid Washington/ patriots....weather being cold and freezing to enable his troops to easily cross muddy roads...but being muddy and difficult to traverse for the British...clouds and fog to aid Washington...waves and wind...storms of unusual severity...all of these things at various times...other things such as:

"...unusual early spawning of shad, a type of fish found in many Atlantic Coastal Rivers, up the Schuylkill River that runs through Valley Forge. They claim that on 23 February 1778, this event alleviated the famine..."
---------------------
Here are a couple of statements from Washington from around that time:

"Although some historians regard Washington's prayers at Valley Forge as apocryphal, records indicate that he knew the power of prayer. In one order, he directed all officers and soldiers "by their unfeigned and pious observance of their religious duties, [to] incline to the Lord, and Giver of Victory, to prosper our arms." 29 At the conclusion of the alliance with France, on 5 May 1778, he directed:

"It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the Universe propitiously to defend the Cause of the United American-States and finally by raising us up a powerful friend among the Princes of the Earth to establish our Liberty and Independence up[on] lasting foundations, it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the divine Goodness and celebrating the important event which we owe to his benign Interposition." 30 "
-----------------
"On 20 October 1781, at the victory of Yorktown, Washington issued a similar announcement. 31 And later, while president, he issued thanksgiving proclamations resembling those issued during the war. 32

While Washington's references to Deity, prayer, and thanksgiving do not reveal him to be an eighteenth-century orthodox Christian, 33 he did recognize the reality of a Creator. Since he expressed his gratitude for divine assistance on many occasions, it is likely that he prayed for that assistance in his leadership and decision-making."
-----------------
"The British defeat at Yorktown proved fatal to British rule of the United States. This time, the elements, which had intervened to aid and protect the Americans time and again, year after year, foiled Cornwallis's escape."

Washington's final military order: "...His final military order of the war, issued 18 April 1783, noted the assistance of the Creator:

"The Commander in chief orders the Cessation of Hostilities between the United States of America and the King of Great Britain to be publickly proclaimed tomorrow at 12 o'clock … after which the Chaplains with the several Brigades will render thanks to almighty God for all his mercies." 46 "

So in summary to start with...I would cite "The Battle of Yorktown" as an evidence that George Washington was NOT a Deist.
I also would point out that the members of the American Continental Congress at that time called for the day of fasting...those who brought forth that action and approved of it (ie. those particular Founding Fathers) would also not be "Deists" ...as they were expecting Divine Intervention on behalf of the nation.

http://www.lds.org...
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 10:39:07 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Updated list:

1. Benjamin Franklin = disputed (*4 for Deist)
2. John Hancock = disputed (*1 for non-Deist)
3. John Adams = disputed (*2 for Deist)
4. Samuel Adams = Christian
5. Thomas Jefferson = disputed (*4 for Deist)
6. Alexander Hamilton = Christian
7. George Washington = disputed (*2 for Deist)(*1 for non-Deist)
8. James Madison = Deist
9. George Mason = Deist (leaning)(disputed *1 for non-Deist)
10. James Monroe = Deist (leaning)(disputed as a FF)(disputed *1 for non-Deist)
11. John Jay = Christian
12. John Marshall = probably Christian
13. Patrick Henry = Christian
14. Thomas Paine = Deist
15. William Penn = Quaker
16. Ethan Allen = Atheist
JBlake
Posts: 4,634
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10/30/2009 10:54:43 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
It is odd that you chose the list that you did. Most of the founders (those we can actually call founders) actually were Christian of some sort. If you include everyone who participated in the Second Continental Congress and he 1787 Convention, there is no doubt that a majority were some form of Christian. Those who contributed most, and those most well known, however, were mostly deists - the so-called "A-List" founders. Your list includes most of them.
heart_of_the_matter
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10/30/2009 11:36:20 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 10:54:43 PM, JBlake wrote:
It is odd that you chose the list that you did. Most of the founders (those we can actually call founders) actually were Christian of some sort. If you include everyone who participated in the Second Continental Congress and he 1787 Convention, there is no doubt that a majority were some form of Christian. Those who contributed most, and those most well known, however, were mostly deists - the so-called "A-List" founders. Your list includes most of them.

I'm just trying to learn more abt. it...wikipedia seemed handy to grab a list to start with...I'm not out to try to "stack" the list with Christians or anything...I just kind of want to find out for myself what the story is...if you wanted to bring up some names I could add them to the list (if it seems reasonable that they were FF)... or do you think the entire 2nd Cont. Congress should be included?
JBlake
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10/30/2009 11:40:42 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
I am saying the opposite, actually. You stacked your list with deists. lol

The majority were Christians of some sort or another. The majority of the ones you listed were deist.