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To: Credo_ut_intelligam
With all due respect to and appreciation for Mr. Barton I must take exception to the oft repeated myth that America's founders were Christian... The words and deeds of the leading men of the American revolution are readily accessible to any one who will take the time to search them out

Better put on your asbestos undies, Credo. That kinda sentiment around here will certainly get you fried. I've certainly taken my share of roasts when I expressed something similar and backed it up with quotes.

Seems a lot of people don't realize that the exact modern day definition of something in a modern day dictionary may not really have any relevance to the concepts and thought that were used by the Founding Fathers in their time. Certainly the term Deist has taken on some connotations over the last 225 years. I'm not sure that they even used that term much to describe themselves.

Their views of Christian and God may have less in common with the current evangelical interpretation than many might think. It is notable to understand that having just escaped from the state-established religions of Europe, only 7% of the people in the 13 colonies belonged to a church when the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Now I have to point out that not "belonging to a church" is not the same as "not believing in God (or Christ)". But the colonists, and yes the signers of the Declaration, were not enamored of the structured religions, priesthood and orthodoxy that had been forced upon them. In fact, Jefferson said in writing to Levi Lincoln in 1802, "The advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from [the clergy]". I suspect that today this still holds valid for the evangelical zealots, not just the clergy.

I believe that Jefferson, and the other founders, were more against the coercion and structured orthodoxy of what they referred to as "Christianity", rather than the underlying tenets of "correct morality" and "loving benevolence", which they openly embraced. Calling themselves "Christians" seemed to refer to those good qualities and not to the structure of the then current orthodox religion itself.

With the unfortunate lack of literacy as currently evidenced by the inability to correctly spell and use proper grammar by a large amount of the population, it is understandable that many cannot read the somewhat antiquated language used by the founders in their day and put themselves in their shoes to try to understand what they felt about such a contentious subject as religion.

There are many quotes of the founders which seem to be directly opposites in regards to the subject of "Christianity". Reading their words and trying to understand them in the context of their society, history, education and morality, without trying to impute to them something which is not there is difficult. We all bring ourselves to whatever we do. But seizing upon a word, and looking it up in a modern dictionary, and then claiming that to prove a previously decided upon belief is just an exercise is self-aggrandizement, as Mr. Barton may be an example.

Reading the words of the Founding Fathers and trying to realize what these great men were doing and thinking constantly brings tears to my eyes. I couldn't care less which god or God or object they believed in. I am just in awe of what they did and what they accomplished, whether in the name of Deism, Atheism or Christianity. It was simply mind boggling in its scope and alteration of the history of the world.

34 posted on 11/08/2004 4:48:20 PM PST by hadit2here ("The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates." -- Tacitus)
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To: hadit2here
Most of the founding fathers were unabashed Christians and you would not have been too happy with them since most of the original states indeed had state religions.

Jefferson and Paine were in and out but probably could be called deists.

But that leaves a helluva lot of founders who feared the Lord. When in doubt, find out if they prayed for divine intervention, if so, they weren't deists.

38 posted on 11/08/2004 5:55:34 PM PST by jwalsh07
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