Often the "Founding Fathers" of the United States are quoted in an effort (1) to make them appear to have been biblical Christians, and especially (2) to make the U.S. a nation politically founded on Christianity. The rhetoric is especially prevalent during national holidays, times of disaster, and pre-election periods.
Yet the early church, like its founder, was apolitical. We should beware those who project their political or religious agenda onto respected heroes of the past, when the evidence suggests otherwise.
Depending on your knowledge of history, you may be surprised by some of the following quotes.
1. "... The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."
2. "To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise... without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence."
3. "I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."
4. "Lighthouses are more useful than churches."
5. "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."
6. "It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible."
7. "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."
1. From the Treaty of Tripoli, endorsed by George Washington and John Adams. The Founding Fathers were adamant that church must be separate from state, based on centuries of abuse and oppression resulting from the commingling of the two (since the 4th C. AD).
2. Thomas Jefferson. He was a deist, not a theist. Making due allowance for the ambient culture of his day, Jefferson would likely have gravitated toward atheism had he lived in our day.
3. Thomas Jefferson.
4. Benjamin Franklin. Although Franklin had a religious streak, he was quite disaffected with the Christianity of his day -- as well we might have been, too.
5. Thomas Jefferson.
6. Thomas Paine. Atheism was more unpopular in the 18th century than it is in our modern day.
7. Thomas Jefferson.