There is such a massive body of evidence concerning America’s Christian founding one scarcely knows where to begin. The enemies of Christianity are fond of making assertions as absurd as “There is no sand in the Sahara Desert!” Then they demand that to prove it you should document each grain.
One particular document often cited is the Treaty of Tripoli. It is claimed Washington signed this treaty and that article 11 declares: “…the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,– as it has in itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen.”
The treaty was negotiated in 1796 between U.S. officials and the Dey of Tripoli and the Dey of Algiers to secure safe passage for American ships through the waters near the Barbary coast of North Africa. The copy of the treaty currently in circulation bearing Washington’s signature is a fraud. Washington never signed this treaty. It never reached the president’s desk until after March, 1797, when John Adams was president. The Senate approved it on June 7, 1797, and president Adams signed it on June 10th of that year. Washington had nothing to do with it. The real treaty does not contain thoe words.
George Washington is another important figure in Americas founding often characterized as a Deist. However we have many statements showing his religious views., both as as statesman and as a person. For example, the first proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving, October 3, 1789: “Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, humbly to implore His protection and favor…that we might then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and ruler of Nations, and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in in public or private stations,to perform our several and relative duties…to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue,…and, generally, to to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. Washington believed that good government is a blessing from God. Nations ,that is, governments, should acknowledge and pray to God, and nations should seek forgiveness from God both for national transgressions as well as individual transgressions. This is not the faith of a Deist and this proclamation certainly shows the marks of a Christian nation, not a secular one.
Virtually all of the founders of this country believed that the constitution would only work if America continued to have a strong religious faith. John Adams believed the French Revolution was doomed to failure because French immorality could not sustain a free nation. He said: “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” In another place he said that America must sustain moral qualities to remain free: “There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honor, power and glory, established in the minds of people or there can be no Republican government, nor any real liberty;…” John Adams believed that Christianity must be the cornerstone of Republican government. His biographer, Page Smith, says that he : “showed in many ways an extraordinary consistency throughout his life. In his fundamental convictions – the moral basis of life, the need for religion, the authority of a Divine Being, the necessity of balance and refinement in government, his orthodox view of the nature of original sin, his veneration for the law, his belief in the civilized as opposed to the “natural” man – in all these, he was remarkably steadfast. Insights achieved in his early twenties remained with him to his death almost three quarters of a century later;…”
It is a pity there is not space to quote more of the founders`of this country. The fact that so many of them were ministers of the Gospel speaks for itself. Yes, America founded as a Christian nation, a fact proved by the strong Christian assertions of their founders.
Turning for a moment to Thomas Jefferson, the alleged Deist, Jefferson clearly believed that this was a Christian nation and that the constitution would only work if it remained one:”Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are…the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?” Jefferson clearly, while not an orthodox Christian, was certainly not a Deist and firmly believed this was a Christian nation subject to the judgments of God.
In conclusion, we must look briefly at the preambles of the state constitutions, virtually all of which revealed the Christian character of the American people. As late as 1892 the preambles of all 44 states continued to reflect this character.
Starting with Delaware, The first state: “Through Divine goodness, all men by nature have the rights of worshiping and serving their Creator…” Pennsylvania “…grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance,…” New Jersey “…grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors…” Georgia “…relying upon the protection and guidance of Almighty God…” Connecticut “acknowledging wth gratitude, the good providence of God,…” Massachusetts “…acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the great Legislator of the universe, in affording us in the course of His providence,…a new constitution of civil government…devoutly imploring His direction…” Maryland “…grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty,…” South Carolina “…grateful to God for our liberties…”
Continuing in the order of admission with New Hampshire, the 9th state, we can see that some of these preambles did not stop with simply a passing reference to Almighty God or His providence but very theological indeed: “…morality and piety, rightly grounded on evangelical principles, will give the best and greatest security to government, and will lay, in the hearts of men, the strongest obligations to to due subjection; and the knowledge of these as most likely to be propagated through society by the institution of the public worship of the Deity.” Virginia, the 10th state, sets forth a philosophy of toleration which, nevertheless, is Christian. It begins with: “That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging of it,…it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love and charity toward each other.” New York, the 11th state “…grateful to Almighty God for our freedom…” North Carolina “…grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations…acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of these blessings to us and our posterity,…” Rhode Island “…grateful to Almighty God…looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors…” Vermont once again goes into an elaborate theory of toleration which is, nevertheless, definitely Christian, and by no means a Deistic statement It acknowledges: “Almighty God” and that “every sect…of Christians ought to observe the Sabbath or Lord’s day, and keep up some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of God.”
This takes us through the first 14 states. Virtually all the rest of the preambles down to Arizona, the 48th state, which says “…grateful to Almighty God for our liberties,…” reflect this sort of language. This should prove to any reasonable person the Christian character not only of the founding of this nation but in its continuing history.
Helpful books to read:
David Barton, The Foundations of American Government
David Barton, The Jefferson Lies:
Paul Johnson, The History of The American People
Peter Marshall, The Light and The Glory
Benjamin F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character Of the Civil Institutions Of The United States
The Politically Incorrect Guides to American History, The Founding Fathers and the Constitution.
See also my AC article: Founding of the United States of America: the Forgotten History