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America's Founding on Christianity

Updated on September 12, 2015

Founding Fathers and Faith

Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary some people insist America was not founded on Christian principles. They do not want to admit to the part our Founders faith and vision played in forming our government.

As an example, in a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson dated April 19, 1817, Adams recalls a conversation between a Parson and a schoolteacher. "...The Parson and the Pedagogue lived much together, but were eternally disputing about government and religion. One day, when the Schoolmaster had been more than commonly fanatical and declared if he were a Monarch, he would have but one religion in his dominion. The Parson replied, 'Cleverly! You would be the best man in the world, if you had no religion.'

The letter goes on to say, “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! 'But in this...I should 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..."

Out of Context

Do you see how easily Adams could be misunderstood if one or two phrases were quoted out of context? Many people have pointed to this quote from John Adams as saying that "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!" But this is hardly the case. It is clearly seen, this selected portion of his statement has been surgically cut from the entire quote. In other words, it’s taken out of context.

Mr. Adams is merely expressing his frustration with those bickering over denominational issues. Adams believed government should never impose a denomination or particular religion upon the people. And in frustration he added he almost wished there to be no religion, but this was clearly not his meaning. His following sentences confirm it.

This is just one example of those in denial. One simply has to look at our national monuments for evidence of our Christian heritage. Nations have built monuments to record battle victories or honor their deities. However, America’s monuments were not built to record these things. Our memorials declare the source of our birth, liberty, and greatness is God. Any tour of our country’s historic sites show America was a nation forged by men with a firm reliance upon God.

Visible Evidence

For instance, in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building are two cases. One contains a Gutenberg Bible and the other a hand-copied Giant Bible of Mainz. The exhibition of these two Bibles represents our Christian heritage. In addition, are inscribed the words of President Andrew Jackson, “The Bible is the rock upon which our republic rests.” Many other Biblical inscriptions can be found adorning the ceiling and walls.

In the Main Reading Room statues and more quotes can be found. Statues of Moses and Paul represent the Christian religion, with the inscription, “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?”And the Biblical foundation of American law is verified throughout the Supreme Court building. On the outside East Pediment is a marble relief of Moses with the Ten Commandments.

Now, on to the Capitol Building where eight large paintings in the Rotunda reveal our Christian history includingThe Baptism of Pocahontas and Departure of the Pilgrims from Holland, which depicts Pilgrims observing a day of prayer and fasting. “In God We Trust,” is inscribed in gold behind the speaker’s rostrum in the House Chamber.

And what about the White House…is there any evidence there? An inscription by John Adams is cut into the marble facing of the State Dining Room fireplace. It proclaims: “I pray Heaven to Bestow the Best of Blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under this roof.”

Many other monuments and buildings in Washington also demonstrate America’s faith in God. For instance, on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery are the words: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”

These buildings and monuments are outward visible signs. However, the words of our founding fathers are proof positive, regardless of those who refuse to accept these truths.

Of course, there will be those who conveniently “overlook” events such as the Protestant Reformation which resulted in mass tidal waves of immigrants to our shores.

America’s first two presidents, George Washington and John Adams, advocated religion. Washington was an Episcopal vestryman, and Adams described himself as "a church going animal." In his Farewell Address of September 1796, Washington called religion, as the source of morality, "a necessary spring of popular government," while Adams claimed that statesmen "may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand."

Many of America’s founders made quotes espousing their beliefs. Benjamin Franklin said:
“ God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.”

The Last Will and Testament of Patrick Henry cites: “This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.”

And in a speech to the House of Burgesses Henry stated: “It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”

There are countless other quotes which could be included in this brief article, however it would take untold volumes to contain them all. Nonetheless, there will still be those who disagree.


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    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      7 years ago from Texas, USA

      It is so sad to realize how much of our country's history has been lost. So glad for David Barton's efforts. I'm currently working through the American Heritage's 10 DVD set of Barton's descriptions of the founding of our nation and the amazing people behind it who themselves called it a miracle of God. So glad to see this hub you've posted!

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      You are so right. A perfect example.

    • profile image


      7 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      It does seem pretty obvious the founders of this nation were men of faith. In the second to last paragraph Henrys speech to the house of burgesses one could cut off his statement with "not on religion" and drop the former line, "But by Christains," and thus change the entire meaning.


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