"The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the christian religion." John Adams (1797- Treaty of Tripoli)
"The Constitution fashioned in 1787 is a secular document. There is no mention of God, Jesus Christ, or a supreme being anywhere in the document. A minority faction of delegates pressed for some type of recognition of Christianity in the Constitution, but their views were rejected." ~ Robert Boston, Church-State scholar
“The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy.” - President George Washington
In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. – Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)
"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." ~ Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Madison, Franklin, among the others of the founding fathers, were committed to liberty, the Enlightenment and the American experiment. Jefferson was the most eloquent and
forceful founder on the the subject of religion. Jefferson was one of the greatest intellectuals in America at the time. Jefferson had little time for the intricacies of creeds, talk of miracles and all the familiar tenants of faith that grew out of the life and, for believers, resurrection of jesus. "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know." Jefferson said. As students of history he and the other founding fathers also knew that Europe had fought wars and led crusades over faith and that the first English colonies in North America were hardly models of religious freedom. As men of science, they believed in the primacy of rational observation, dismissing much of the supernatural as superstition. Jefferson was so confident in the power of the mind to discern natural and moral truths, he once spent a few evenings in the White House going through the gospels with a razor, cutting out passages he found implausible in order to create his own version of the scriptures. On another occasion, he impatiently waved away talk of the holy trinity. "Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them, and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity," Jefferson said. "It is the mere abracadabra of the mountbanks calling themselves priests of jesus." Jefferson staked out an American middle ground between the fierce evangelical christians on the one hand and the contempt for religion of secular "philosophies" on the other. The right wanted Jefferson to be a soldier of faith while the left wanted him to be the American Voltaire. He was both and neither. In other words he was a lot like us. I will grant you that religion has shaped the life of our nation but the founding fathers did their best to make sure that it would never be the defining concept. God is central to the country's experience, but for the broad center, faith is a matter of choice, not coercion, and the legacy of the founding fathers is that the sensible center holds. They did this because they believed to be working in the service of both man and god, not just one or the other. Driven by a sense of providence and an acute appreciation of the fallibility of man, they created a nation in which religion should not be singled out for special help or particular harm. The balance between the promise of the Declaration of Independence, with its evocation of divine origins and destiny, and the practicalities of the Constitution, with its checks on religious extremism, remains the most brilliant American success. It is not for government to promote religious belief through the placement of biblical scripture on official, citizen owned edifices. For to do so is to trespass on each individuals god given liberty of mind and heart. If god himself chose not to force obedience from those he created, then who are men to try??