Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Shore Properties 1005238

This looks interesting....

In her lively refutation of modern claims about America's religious origins, Brooke Allen looks back at the late eighteenth century and shows decisively that the United States was founded not on Christian principles at all but on Enlightenment ideas. Moral Minority presents a powerful case that the unique legal framework the Founding Fathers created was designed according to the humanist ideals of Enlightenment thinkers: God entered the picture only as a very minor player, and Jesus Christ was conspicuous by his absence. The guiding spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, Ms. Allen explains, was not Jesus Christ but John Locke.

In direct and accessible prose, she provides fascinating chapters on the religious lives of the six men she considers the key Founding Fathers: Franklin, Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton. Far from being the conventional pious Christians we too often imagine, these men were skeptical intellectuals, in some cases not even Christians at all. Moral Minority presents unforgettable images of our iconic founders: Jefferson taking a razor to the Bible and cutting out every miraculous and supernatural occurrence; Washington rewriting speeches others had crafted for him, so as to omit all references to Jesus Christ; Franklin and Adams confiding their doubts about Christ's divinity; Madison expressing deep disapproval over the appointment of chaplains to Congress and the armed forces, and of what we would now call "faith-based" initiatives.

Enlivened by generous portions of the founders' own incomparable prose, Moral Minority makes an impassioned and scintillating contribution to the ongoing debate—more heated now than ever before—over the separation of church and state and the role (or lack thereof) of religion in government.

http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Minority-Skeptical-Founding-Fathers/dp/1566636752

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Comments (17)

Bob & Bonnie Horning
Mount Joy, PA

There are overwhelming amounts of texts from the period that point to just the opposite. David Barton who wrote Original Intent used complete texts from numerous letters and communications of the day, not just ... gleanings... Have you ever read the original motto of Harvard? Jesus Christ and the Church and later they added truth under that because our founding fathers knew the truth was based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. (Later a president of Harvard ordered the motto be changed to just truth.) Of the first 112 universities founded in America, 108 were Bible based and Jesus Christ was the cornerstone to their studies.

Here's my point Karl, If you looked at my faith journey, each and every day of it, you could mine quotes and writings that you could easily say the same about me and my beliefs. A walk with Jesus Christ is an incomplete work in progress always. We are engaged to be married to Him but we have not consumated the marriage yet. It is why the church is called the bride of Christ and not His wife. I encourage you to read the entire letters or pieces of work from which quotes in this book are drawn. I guarantee you'll find something completely different in total context. I've been looking and discovering the exact opposite this book proposes over my last 7 years of researching this very topic.

One example is a letter written by John Adams to Thomas Jefferson in which he said the world would be a better place without Christianity and religion. This one sentence has been quoted by many people trying to push this agenda. When you read the whole paragraph and letter, you find he ends with - but this would make our world a living hell and he wouldn't want any part of it. We can all run from these truths that our great country was founded on but in the end, we all run right into God. I did that very thing myself only 7 years ago this Nov. 6th. I used to be on your side of this equation but when you look at something with light shed on it, you see it much differently.

Here is the truth and nothing but the truth: God created all things but it fell short of what He expected. The law was given to Moses and people decided not to talk directly with God any longer because they were scared of Him. He used prophets to talk to the people for Him. These prophets over a period of a few thousand years gave 333 prophecies of a coming Messiah who would make our relationship with God a personal possibility once again. Jesus was born to a virgin, just as the prophets said. He was beaten, scorned and hung on a tree, just as the prophets said. He did this for you and me so that we could be close to God once again on a personal level. Then He rose from the dead with over 500 witnesses for the next 40 days and then He ascended before the people's eyes into Heaven. He then sent the Helper named the Holy Spirit and we now live in a country prophesied by those same prophets and we are here to be His shining light and salt for the world. Now, I've done my part, the rest is up to that Holy Spirit. He is calling you Karl and He loves you as I love you too. So much that I don't mind sticking my neck out there for you.

Oct 04, 2012 01:06 AM
Ted Baker
Carmody and Associates LLC - Winter Haven, FL
MidFloridaMediation.com

Hi Karl - 

To begin, may I say that I have ordered the book to which you refer and look forward to the reading.  Thank you for the reference. 

However many of the arguments described in your post I have heard before and may not bring about any change of mind here.  

As a matter of law, I point out that the phrase "separation of Church and State" does not appear in our Constitution or, to my knowledge, in other founding documents.  (first appeared, I hear, in a personal letter from Jefferson) I therefore conclude that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is designed to protect religion from government intrusion and not to protect the government from religion. The idea of a firewall to completely exclude religious thought from our public acts of government does not set well with me.  

As I may have indicated previously I am not a member of an organized religion.  I am open to the idea of the existence of God but do not feel that any named religion has a monopoly on His definition or His word.  An historical tour of the atrocities that have been committed on this planet in the name of various religions over the years is, at best, appalling and leads me to the conclusion that since religion teaches us enough to hate and not enough to love, I can only conclude that none of the major religions should be taken to be universal.  I have found valuable insights into ethics and morality in the teachings of both Western and Eastern religions but suggest that formal religion is man-made of money and power much like governments and I therefore do not consider that the finding of skepticism expressed from time to time by individual leaders of our Country in the early days of our Republic to be surprising or to be convincing as to their status as Christians.  The seventeenth century was a remarkable enlightened age in terms of religious and political thought.  Books on philosophy and politics, frequently published in Europe, sold in surprisingly large numbers in America as well as in Eurpope.  

So I will read with interest your title as well as the David Barton title.  But I do not expect to conclude that the many references to God in our documents and on our monuments and government buildings are  inconsistent or dangerous to the continued existence of the Republic.

 

Oct 04, 2012 09:33 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Don't get upset.  Karl is just throwing out what he knows to be a bomb.  These are all words from another person.  Amazon, Good Reads and Barnes and Noble all used the EXACT SAME WORDS as Karl has in this post.  Meaning they are selling a book and don't have their own thoughts.

What do YOU think Karl?

For example, do you KNOW why Jefferson cut sections out of the Bible?  Let's hear your answer and I will tell you the historical fact.

People like Brook Allen aren't historians, and write things like this from a point of view intended to slight others.  It is small.  It's like Clinton saying sure, I did it, but so did everyone else.  It is small.

Oct 04, 2012 09:56 PM
Karl Hess
Keller Williams Shore Properties - Barnegat, NJ
on The Jersey Shore

Jay, I heard about his book yesterday and decided to share it...I have not read it...and you'll notice I put the link at the bottom of the post.

Oct 04, 2012 10:48 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I know that Karl.  But I would love to hear what you think now and then.

Would you share a plumber with a client that you just heard about yesterday, before trying him out?

Oct 04, 2012 11:16 PM
Karl Hess
Keller Williams Shore Properties - Barnegat, NJ
on The Jersey Shore

jay, I didn't recommend the book, I simply thought it looked interesting.

Oct 05, 2012 02:51 AM
Karl Hess
Keller Williams Shore Properties - Barnegat, NJ
on The Jersey Shore

The Framers did not use the words, "God" or "Creator" or "Jesus" in the Constitution. The notable exception is found in the signatory section, where the date is written: "Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven". The use of the word "Lord" here is not a religious reference. This was a common way of expressing the date.

Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association replying to a letter asking why he would not proclaim national days of fasting and thanksiving, as had been done by Washington and Adams before him. The letter contains the phrase "wall of separation between church and state," which lead to the short-hand for the Establishment Clause that we use today.

Oct 05, 2012 03:05 AM
Ted Baker
Carmody and Associates LLC - Winter Haven, FL
MidFloridaMediation.com

Karl - if the Danbury letter was written while he was the President - it was after the Constitution was written and the Establishment Clause was already a part of the First Amendment.  (ratified Dec 15, 1791)

So the phrase did not lead to anything related to the Establishment Clause... and the phrase does not say what the Establishment Clause said then or now. That was my original point.

If you are talking to me with the first paragraph of #7 - I did not say anything about religious terms in the Constitution.  "God" appears on many of the buildings and monuments in Washington.  "Creator" certainly appears in the Declaration of Independence.  I am not familiar with references to "Jesus" in government so I can not offer a comment there.

 

Oct 05, 2012 05:43 AM
Karl Hess
Keller Williams Shore Properties - Barnegat, NJ
on The Jersey Shore

Sorry, i should've said Jefferson's letter created the common terminology "separation of church and state"  for The Establishment Clause. And the fact that "God" appears on buildings and monuments, to me, is immaterial to the point the book appears to be attempting to make.

Oct 05, 2012 07:24 AM
Satar Naghshineh
Satar - Amiri Property and Financial Services Corp. - Irvine, CA

The majority of the founding fathers were religious. However, the goal was to encourage good moral persons to take responsibility within government without establishing a national religion or practice.

Oct 05, 2012 03:48 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The FF were exceptionally religious, with most stating that freedom cannot exist in an environment without morality and religion.

Nobody answered - so why did Mr. Jefferson (who shares my birthday) cut sections out of the Bible?  Hint:  he WASN'T without religion.

Oct 05, 2012 06:09 PM
Satar Naghshineh
Satar - Amiri Property and Financial Services Corp. - Irvine, CA

Jay - My guess is that he wanted to create a "bible for dummies" so that people reading it, can gasp the moral implications of the religion. Scanning over the book, it looks like he included a map for reference and that he included views of taxes.

http://americanhistory.si.edu/JeffersonBible/the-book/?view=scan&page=3#dl

Oct 06, 2012 02:14 AM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I collect antique books, Satar, and actually have a very, very old edition (1835 I think) of Jefferson's Bible.

It wasn't for dummies!  He was serious.  He didn't trust the King James boys.

My point in all this is that if Miss Allen doesn't do the primary research enough to understand WHY the FF did certain things, it is not a very accurate portrayal and therefore ill slanted.  The blurb Karl pasted says she "shows decisively" her positions.  Not...

Oct 06, 2012 07:31 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

At a dinner he held for Nobel laureates, Kennedy said it was the smartest collection of people for dinner in the White House since Jefferson dined there alone.  I bet Jefferson would have agreed with that.  He also thought his Bible was THE Bible.  He thought he did what the King James translators did, only better.

Oct 06, 2012 07:33 PM
Karl Hess
Keller Williams Shore Properties - Barnegat, NJ
on The Jersey Shore

Great line; Nobel laureates at the WH...."smartest collection of people for dinner in the White House since Jefferson dined there alone."

Oct 07, 2012 12:53 AM
Satar Naghshineh
Satar - Amiri Property and Financial Services Corp. - Irvine, CA

"He also thought his Bible was THE Bible.  He thought he did what the King James translators did, only better."

I didn't get that impression reading over his letters describing what he was doing. It looks like he wanted to simplify the bible so that the common person can understand it. From what I read, it looks like he wanted the American Indians to be able to read it and understand it.

Oct 07, 2012 12:21 PM
Rich Quigley
Chicago, IL

Karl, looks like an interesting book. I'll add it to my Kindle "wish list". I've been trying to learn more about history, having recently read Ben Franklin's autobiography and the Constitution (since people who are not legal authorities are constantly declaring things "unconstitutional" I thought I should be better informed). I'm now reading "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", which is a slow read, so I'll be on that for months. Nonetheless, I'll add this to my wish list. 

Oct 30, 2012 01:21 AM