Skip to comments.Religious Affiliation of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence
Posted on 07/04/2010 4:53:44 PM PDT by NoLibZone
Religious Affiliation of the Signers of the
Declaration of Independence
The signers of the Declaration of Independence were a profoundly intelligent, religious and ethically-minded group. Four of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were current or former full-time preachers, and many more were the sons of clergymen. Other professions held by signers include lawyers, merchants, doctors and educators. These individuals, too, were for the most part active churchgoers and many contributed significantly to their churches both with contributions as well as their service as lay leaders. The signers were members of religious denominations at a rate that was significantly higher than average for the American Colonies during the late 1700s.
These signers have long inspired deep admiration among both secularists (who appreciate the non-denominational nature of the Declaration) and by traditional religionists (who appreciate the Declaration's recognition of God as the source of the rights enumerated by the document). Lossing's seminal 1848 collection of biographies of the signers of the Declaration of Independence echoed widely held sentiments held then and now that there was divine intent or inspiration behind the Declaration of Independence. Lossing matter-of-factly identified the signers as "instruments of Providence" who have "gone to receive their reward in the Spirit Land."
From: B. J. Lossing, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, George F. Cooledge & Brother: New York (1848) [reprinted in Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, WallBuilder Press: Aledo, Texas (1995)], pages 7-12:
From no point of view can the Declaration of American Independence, the causes which led to its adoption, and the events which marked its maintenance, be observed without exciting sentiments of profound veneration for the men who were the prominent actors in that remarkable scene in the drama of the world's history...
The signing of that instrument was a solemn act, and required great firmness and patriotism in those who committed it... neither firmness nor patriotism was wanting in that august body...
Such were the men unto whose keeping, as instruments of Providence, the destinies of America were for the time intrusted; and it has been well remarked, that men, other than such as these,--an ignorant, untaught mass, like those who have formed the physical elements of other revolutionary movements, without sufficient intellect to guide and control them--could not have conceived, planned, and carried into execution, such a mighty movement, one so fraught with tangible marks of political wisdom, as the American Revolution...
Their bodies now have all returned to their kindred dust in the grave, and their souls have gone to receive their reward in the Spirit Land.
From: Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975), pages 27-28:
Liberally endowed as a whole with courage and sense of purpose, the signers [of the Declaration of Independence] consisted of a distinguished group of individuals. Although heterogeneous in background, education, experience, and accommplishments, at the time of the signing they were practically all men of means and represented an elite cross section of 18th-century American leadership. Everyone one of them of them had achieved prominence in his colony, but only a few enjoyed a national reputation.
The signers were those individuals who happened to be Delegates to Congress at the time... The signers possessed many basic similarities. Most were American-born and of Anglo-Saxon origin. The eight foreign-born... were all natives of the British Isles. Except for Charles Carroll, a Roman Catholic, and a few Deists, every one subscribed to Protestantism. For the most part basically political nonextremists, many at first had hesitated at separation let alone rebellion.
Care to explain the official Colonial Religions that were in place when the Union was formed? Apparently they had no problem with them.
“The salient issues of today that touch on SOCAS are things like prayers and Bibles at public educational institutions. Since I believe public schools (ie. gov’t money) to be as unConstitutional as public religion, it’s not a big quandry for me. Abolish them both!”
“We have religious freedom in the USA not in spite of Christianity, but because of it.”
I’m sure you believe this, but all the evidence is against it.
From 312 AD (Constantine) through the 18th Century, Christianity dominated Europe, and so did religious oppression.
Perhaps you do not remember why the Pilgrims came here. It was to escape religious oppression. Who were they oppressed by? Muslims? Atheists? Hindus? They were oppressed by Christians.
Quite frankly the record of Christianity with regard to religious freedom is ghastly. There was even Christian religious persecution in the Colonies:
James Madison himself wrote: “That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some. . . . There are at this time in the adjacent county not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which in the main are very orthodox. . . . So I must beg you to . . . pray for liberty of conscience for all.”
Historically, whenever religion, including Christianity, is mixed with politics, it is oppressive, and everyone without the same brand of Christianity is persecuted.
Religious freedom in this country is precisely because the founders understood if any religion gets mixed up with government, it will ultimately suppress all other varieties of religion, even if called by the same name.
Perhaps you don't consider religious persecution a "problem."
One example is the persecution of the Baptisits throughout the colonies.
Please see my last post Here.
That may think that they are Calvinists, but they are not Calvinists. They do not practice infant baptism, and they will rebaptise others, exactly as Mennonites do.
Their only difference is pacifism. Mennonites are pacifist and Baptists are not.
But he couldn't have been Catholic. He was a Free Mason who, just before his death, imparted the secret to a great treasure to young Thomas Gates.
Congratulations on the victories that you and yours have enjoyed since the 1960s.
As a conservative, I don’t share your view that the war against Christianity improved America during the last 50 years, I think that we have gone backwards, not forward.
The original author, who lived in the 19th century and wrote a biography of John Randolph, and David Barton, who cited him in 2007 as a result of Keith Ellison’s (a Muslim) election to Congress and the press’ claim that he was the first Muslim elected to Congress—neither are goofy, and I don’t have a burden to prove/do anything regarding the subject. Good day.
There isn’t an “original author”, your ramblings are nonsense.
A guy wrote a book in 2007, big deal, there are goofy books claiming that Abraham Lincoln was black, do you try and promote those also?
“As a conservative, I dont share your view that the war against Christianity improved America during the last 50 years, I think that we have gone backwards, not forward.”
It is not my view that the war against Christianity has improved America, it has very much harmed America. I’m very sorry to see what the MSM, Academia, and government schools has done to Christianity in America. I do not believe in a God, but I defend Christianity and Christians. For example, one of my articles:
What I object to as any fusion of any kind between any religion and government, because if it happens, my friend, you will almost certainly loose your freedom to practice your religion.
That is what you have won in the last 60 years, declare victory, you have already succeeded in ending the fusion that we had for the first 150 years.
Evidently you think that it hasn't been enough and you want to keep fighting against our pre 1960s America.
You seem to forget that the pilgrims were Christians. They didn’t come here to escape Christianity, but to practice it. James Madison was a Christian. His belief in freedom of conscience was rooted in his Protestant Christian beliefs.
I lived in the 40s, 50s, and 60s and there was no fusion of religion and government in America, but there was freedom, and people took their personal religion seriously, and the government kept its nose out. The glory and beauty of those, perhaps greatest years of this country, with highest moral character and individual integrity, was due solely to the character of the people. Most were Christians.
We now have a society in which every aspect of human life is regulated and interfered with—culturally and morally there has never been a lower point in our history. There is more fusion between government and religion than ever in history. Ever hear of the “Faith Base Initiative?” Nobody would have stood for that in the 50s and 60s.
You are right about the low state of Christianity in this country. To a very great extent it is hypocritical Christians who lie about other people and try to make enemies of those who are on their side, that are the cause of it.
I know many beautiful Christians. My brother-in-law is a fundamentalist (Baptist) preacher. None of them would have used the kind of snide accusatory language you have. I doubt very much that you are a Christian, or if you are, I’m glad none of the Christians I know use those kinds of dishonest tactics. Honesty is a virtue. There are many good Christians on this site and you are an insult to them, and their religion.
“You seem to forget that the pilgrims were Christians. They didnt come here to escape Christianity, but to practice it. James Madison was a Christian. His belief in freedom of conscience was rooted in his Protestant Christian beliefs.”
Try reading more slowly. What I said was:
“Perhaps you do not remember why the Pilgrims came here. It was to escape religious oppression. Who were they oppressed by? Muslims? Atheists? Hindus? They were oppressed by Christians.”
How could I forget why the pilgrms came here. I had forbears on both my Mother’s and Father’s side on the Mayflower. Of course they came here to practice their Christianity, specifically their Puritan version of it. If they had been able to practice at home, that is, if they had not been persecuted BY CHRISTIANS in England, they wouldn’t have had to come here to practice their religion.
If Christianity is the thing that makes countries free, since England was a Christian country, how come the Puritans didn’t have freedom?
Good grief. Cannot Christians read any longer?
That is ridiculous, unless you mean that the government hunts down and then shuts down elements of our previous Christian culture. When I was a kid the government led me in morning prayer and we had Christian displays on government land and religion was openly displayed and built into architecture by the government.
“...the government led me...”
Ah well, that explains everything. ;>)
Seriously, the government didn’t do those things. What I mean by “fusion between government and religion” is as a matter of law. There was no law saying there had to be a Creche in the town park at Christmas, or that teachers had to read the Bible and lead prayers in school. Most people were Christians and they were free to do those things. There were no laws involved.
Now there ARE laws involved. Some negative, like banning of Bible reading and prayer in government schools, and some positive like the “faith based initiative” which is also a matter of law. Government should not be making any laws regarding religion at all and if it didn’t, you’d be free to read your Bible and pray, even in “public schools” and to practice your religion in any other way you chose, anywhere you chose. Aren’t your for that? I am. But the only way you can have that is to get Government out of religion, and religion out of government.
I got into a debate with someone who supported the National Endowment for the Arts. I asked him if he believed in the separation of church and state. They said, "yes." I asked him if it would be acceptable use of NEA funds to create a ten foot crucifix and put it up in a public park. He said, "no, because that's religious based and violates the separation of church and state." I then asked him why Christo's "Piss Christ" could be funded by the NEA. If the separation of church and state means the NEA can't support a religious viewpoint, doesn't it also mean they can't insult a religious viewpoint?
Backed into a corner, he could not admit that his viewpoint of the first amendment was that it was okay to silence speech with which he disagreed, but to fund speech of which he was supportive. He kind of lamely said, "Well, if you put stuff like Piss Christ out of the way, all the NEA could fund would be stuff so banal it would be meaningless. I posited that the NEA should be eliminated, and Art should be funded by those who wished to support it, not by taxpayers who were often offended by the art for which they were paying. Of course, this got back to goring his ox. The NEA sent money to him. He couldn't find someone who would pay their own money for his work. Therefore, the NEA was good, cause it gave him money.
Some of my ancestors were either murdered or driven from their homeland in France. That country in the heart of Europe, the source of most of the Crusaders, was never the same after the expulsion of the Huguenots.
Seriously the government did do those things, and in the last sixty years you and the left have switched the government into banning those things that it did until the sixties, the government is now hostile to Christianity and is an aggressor against it.
“Another point to this is that previously government had small and limited reach. Now, it reaches into everything.”
Yes, exactly. Small government and individual liberty were the reason Christians were free to believe and practice their religion wherever and whenever they liked.
Your discussion about the NEA is a good illustration. Positively or negatively, government involvement with religion will always be detrimental (and of course that’s true for the arts as well).
Your last is a bit of a tale on what has happened to the character of American people, I’m afraid. People will sacrifice any principle for money. Not much hope I’m afraid.