December 2, 2016 § 9 Comments
” … What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen erecting a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of Civil authority; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who have wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to preserve and perpetuate it [public liberty] needs them not. Such a government will be best supported by protecting in every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of others.” — James Madison
” … this would be the best possible world if there were no religion in it.” — John Adams (quoted by Jefferson in a letter)
“In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot. … they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purpose.” — Thomas Jefferson
[I came across these quotes and thought they were share-worthy as a counterpoint to the school of thought that our founding fathers intended this to be a Christian nation. Madison, Adams, and Jefferson were three of the most prominent founders. Madison is considered by many scholars to have been a Deist, and Jefferson definitely was so. Jefferson revered the teachings of Jesus, but believed Christianity had subverted and corrupted His teachings. Adams, who was a Congregationalist and later a Unitarian, considered himself a Christian, but shared Jefferson’s views on Christianity.
Two other founding fathers, Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, were also Deists. Paine’s Age of Reason is a scathing denunciation of religion. Franklin considered himself both a Deist and a Christian. Franklin made a motion at the 1787 Constitutional Convention that every session begin with a prayer for God’s guidance; the motion was defeated.
What the founders shared was an abhorrence of any state-sponsored religion such as the Anglican Church in England. They also recognized that there were many different religions planted in and taking root in the new nation, and that any persecution for religious beliefs would be too much like the English system, which the rejected. Hence the First Amendment.
When the French were looking for a model for their post-royalty nation, they admired the new United States Constitution, and used it as a template for their own recognition of the rights of citizens. After consultation with several of our founders, they were persuaded to make their own government a purely secular one, which, with a few deviations, it has remained to this day.]