One Nation Under...Several Deists and Freemasons This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 2, 2010
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We've all heard that incredibly overused argument that our nation was founded on Christianity. I've heard it so many times – and backed up with the most inaccurate information – that I am ready to scream.

Before I continue, let me state for the record that I have absolutely nothing against Christianity. I was a Catholic for most of my life, and left it simply because it wasn't for me. My best friend, my step-mother, and many of my relatives are Christians. I have nothing against religion. No, my beef is with those who use inaccurate statements like “Our country was founded on Christianity” and “All of the founding fathers were Christians.”

Let me address some of these arguments. The first always seems to be that phrases like “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” on our currency have existed since the start of our nation. This is simply untrue. These phrases were not put on paper currency or added to our Pledge until the Cold War in the 1950s. During the Red Scare of Communism, people saw a need to separate the American identity from the concepts of communism. The original Pledge of Allegiance simply stated “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one ­nation indivisible with liberty and ­justice for all.” In the original pledge, instead of “Under God,” Francis Ballamy, the author, mentioned unity, ­liberty, and justice. Get with the times, people; the Red Scare is over.

Some claim that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution mention God, when in fact, the Declaration of Independence only states “they are endowed by their Creator.” In addition, even that was not in Jefferson's original draft. He simply stated that equal creation was a reason for equal rights. He made no mention of a “Creator”; that was added later. As for the Constitution, religion is only mentioned when the document is stating that church and state will be separate. Funny, it never mentions God, but it says the church and state should stay out of each other's business. Clearly, this document was written by those familiar with Christian theocracy.

Many people in our country believe that our founding fathers were all Christians. While many of the founding fathers attended church, their ­personal beliefs were quite different from those taught by the churches they attended. For example, Thomas Jefferson, our third president, was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Far from being a Christian, he was believed to be a Deist and repeatedly made arguments against Christianity.

John Adams, our second president and another founding father, was a Unitarian. The Unitarian theology of that time, while Christian in nature, ­denied many basic ­principles of orthodox Christianity. It rejected the idea of the Holy Trinity, for example. The Unitarian theology of the colonial period was based on tolerance and reasoning and was much closer to Deism than the standard orthodox branches of Christianity popular in colonial times.

Benjamin Franklin, my personal favorite of the founding fathers, was an inventor, educator, diplomat, scientist, and public servant. He was also a Deist. He rejected the Resurrection, Divinity of Jesus, and the Trinity, according to Franklin stated his skepticism of Christianity on several occasions and became a Freemason in 1730.

George Washington attended church regularly, but was never confirmed or took communion, not even on his deathbed. He would wait outside the sanctuary while his wife took communion. His beliefs on the Trinity are questionable, and he is believed to have been a Deist. He was also a Freemason.

Thomas Paine, author of the revolutionary pamphlet “Common Sense,” has been called a “firebrand of the American Revolution.” He was also a Deist. He believed religion to be a tyranny and denied the Trinity, Resurrection, and even miracles. Paine is known for denouncing slavery in the colonies and pushing thousands of “fence-sitters” onto the side of revolution before the war, and he did all this without any basic religion.

All these founding fathers have made statements that clearly disprove any orthodox Christianity on their part and prove their tolerance toward non-Christians. Here are some of their thoughts in their own words:

“Question with boldness even
the existence of God.” – Thomas ­Jefferson

“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.” – Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world.” – John Adams

“Have you considered that system of holy lies and pious frauds that has raged and triumphed for 1,500 years?” – John Adams

“Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.” – George Washington

“Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.” – Thomas Paine

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 29 comments. Post your own now!

Lucy-AgnesThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 6, 2015 at 4:14 pm
Well, there's a difference between saying our country was founded by Christians and saying it's founded on Christian values. Truth, you see, is the same whether it is spoken by Christians or Deists, and the Founding Fathers had a ton of truth in their beliefs. :) Whether or not they practiced the Christian religion is not as relevant as whether their beliefs about what a good country should be were in line with Christianity. The Founding Fathers had great respect for religion, as evidenced by th... (more »)
Rainbow P. said...
Sept. 8, 2015 at 9:00 am
Wow. So true I have never said The pledge of Allegiance because of my religion I don't feel I have to because I believe that there is more than one God and that you don't have to worship someone just because someone tells you that you have to.
Literary_Lion said...
Aug. 30, 2015 at 9:47 pm
You can now tag other users by using "@".
AnInkling said...
Sept. 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm
Good job; this was very well writen, but I think that your conclusion was drawn inaccurately though I did appreciate that you dispelled the myth that "Under God" was in the origional pledge. For one, you say that "endowed by their Creator" was added later to the Declaration, and it was, but only by a few month and so that really isn't a good conclusion of evidence since Jefferson may have decided that he just forgot something. Also many of your quote are taken out of cont... (more »)
CharleyLatta replied...
Feb. 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm
John Adams was actually Unitarian.
pianokeysevie said...
May 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm
i think this is well written, but it almost seems at parts that you leave your thesis " it is untrue that the US is founded on Christianity" and simply begin to criticize the religion.. forgive me if i'm wrong. this article seems well researched, and seems like a chunk of work really went into it.. it does seem like it would offend people even though you say it doesn't.. of course, people are always offended regardless.. i think this is still a good article, even if i disagree with you.
Phantom_Girl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 7, 2012 at 4:28 am
Thanks. At what parts does it seem like I'm criticising the religion?
sunshine:) said...
Jan. 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm
I believe that this was an interesting article, but I do take one issue with it: you say that you were trying to refute baseless arguments, when you provide very few sources yourself. Otherwise, it was a very interesting post. God bless you
Phantom_Girl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 7, 2012 at 4:30 am
Ha ha, yeah. I had a list of sources, but at the time I thought it would look stupid if I posted them at the end of the piece. I probably should have. It's all pretty easily accessible if you want to find it.
moongirlsmoon said...
Jan. 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm
climbergirl94 said...
Dec. 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm
Very well written article, and an enjoyable read. I have to agree with many of your points except for one- Only that while this country may not have been founded on the grounds of Christianity, it did play a very important role when creating our constitution and bill of rights. Our founding fathers, whatever their religion may have been, wanted as you said "Seperation between church and state". This does not mean they weren't Christians, it simply means that they had just come from a land where ... (more »)
NeverStopRelating said...
Nov. 5, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I have spoken with pastors. I have gone to church with my very Christian family. My uncle is a youth pastor.

Pastors annoy me. Somehow, it got out that me and my father are athiest. Nearly every pastor in nearly every church I have gone to have given some kind of lecture on "I will introduce you to Jesus and your life will be so much better" directly to us. I a m sick of it!!! My life is PERFECT people! everyone has problems, and everyone has their own solution to it. That is why I lov... (more »)

sunshine:) replied...
Jan. 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm
I am curious as to how your life is "perfect" if "everyone" (which, I assume includes you) has problems.
RarelyJaded This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 16, 2013 at 12:02 am
I love how you generalize all Christians and label pastors as annoying and "my way or the high way" and jump on the opportunity to criticize an entire religion. There's a more constructive way to vocalize your beliefs, and not discriminate back at the people you believe to be so in-your-face. And I fail to see how your right to a "choice" is being infringed upon.... Sorry if I seem rant-ish
TheEarlofZerces said...
Nov. 5, 2011 at 10:44 am
It's actually kind of funny. During the debate over the passing of the US Constitution, one of the chief problems the Anti-Federalists had with the Constitution was that it didn't make any mention of God.
bookthief This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm
Which is really interesting, when you think of the fact that they were the ones who disliked federal and national hierarchy and government.
bemark12 said...
Nov. 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm
It's certainly accurate that America was not primarily founded by Christians or even theists; however, I would argue that the Declaration of Independence's foremost idea, the self-evident rights and equality of mankind, is a Judeo-Christian idea. It most certainly doesn't trace back to our classical background; one only needs to read Plato or Aristotle's thoughts on slavery to see that. The idea we have today that all people are equal traces back to the Judeo-Christian idea of sanctity of all li... (more »)
bookthief This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm
I agree... but also keep in mind that most of the founding fathers were slaveowners and that there's not a lot of abolitionism in the Torah/Bible.
Phantom_Girl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 7, 2012 at 4:32 am
Many religions believed in the equality of mankind, not just the Judeo-Christian faith. And Plato and Aristotle weren't the only ones who had positive thoughts on slavery. Check the Old Testament.
RarelyJaded This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 16, 2013 at 12:04 am
I think I know which passage your referring to in the Old Testament... And it doesn't justify slavery
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