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Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding…
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Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers (2006)

by Brooke Allen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this book a great deal. I was unaware of the advance of fundamentalism on our rights and the very frame of our Constitution.

This book discusses the religious nature of six of the founding fathers of the United States of America: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. All of it is done through quoting their private letters and papers, the laws they helped to enact, and ideas they tried to spread. Some of the Founding Fathers were quite devout, but a lot of them were Deists or Atheists. Washington didn't even profess a religion and a lot of his history was distorted by Mason Locke Weems, a charlatan of the highest order that made up the Cherry tree story and a great many other things.

The book is divided into eight chapters with an appendix and an index. Each chapter covers one Founding Father with chapter seven being about the follow-up of their deaths and chapter eight covering the history of the world that they lived in and that world's environment. For instance, a great issue was made on a lot of the pilgrims fleeing religious persecution, but most of the settlers were in it for the land and the money. The ones that did escape religious persecution foisted their own ideals on others and demonized dissenters and those of other sects. Rather silly if you ask me, considering the fact that they were all supposedly Christians.

In any case, I really enjoyed this book. I found it fascinating, and it introduced me to a couple of new Google searches. I was not aware that Maryland required belief in a God for public office up until 1961 of all times. I would read it again, but I have so many other books on my plate that it seems unlikely. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Wonderful single source debunking of the myth of the US government being founded on Christian principles. Nothing could be further from the truth as Ms. Allen illustrates. Her case is laid out by citing the writings and biographies of the six most visible of the Founders: Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton. Should be required reading for Beck, O'Reilly, the Tea Party Darlings and anyone else spouting that nonsense. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
I personally found nothing new or revealing in this short summary of the philosophical foundations of the United States or of the religious sentiments of the founding fathers. But given the efforts of a small but vocal movement to rewrite history to make America an exclusively “Christian” nation, it is a timely reminder of the vision people like Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison had for this country. Ms. Allen points out quite accurately and succinctly that these great men desired to create a nation that embodied the ideas and ideals of Enlightenment thinkers like Locke and Hume rather than those embodied in the Bible. They had studied the Bible of course and had commented on it extensively but this was largely to point out its flaws. This isn’t to say that they were anti-Christian in any way, as the author takes care to point out, but that they understood that religion in general, and Christianity in particular had no valid role in government. The founders opposed the idea of a national religion of any kind and intentionally separated Church and State in the formation of the U.S. Constitution.
Ms. Allen does come across a bit heavy when she points out that none of these men would be considered “Christian” by some modern standards but as she is trying to present a counterpoint to absurd claims that any of them shared the same beliefs about a personal savior or the divinity of Jesus as current American evangelicals, I can excuse this one point.
( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
8
  OberlinSWAP | Aug 1, 2015 |
A well written, easy to read book detailing the religious lives and political positions of the American founders. The author attempts to demonstrate through the founders own words that the United States was not, in fact, founded as a Christian nation. ( )
  Devil_llama | Apr 11, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brooke Allenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Huppert, JenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, David E.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Brian and Sidney Urquhart
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Benjamin Franklin was one of the great figures of the international Enlightenment, revered in France even more, if possible, than he was in his native land.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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First published as an article in The Nation, 'Our Godless Constitution'  21 Feb 2005.
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Book description
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. [retrieved 2/27/2017 from Amazon.com]

Contents:

Franklin -- Washington -- Adams -- Jefferson -- Madison -- Hamilton -- 1787 and beyond -- The world that produced the founders -- Appendix I : two letters from Jefferson on the common law and Christianity -- Appendix II : Madison's Memorial and remonstrance against religious assessments.
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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.… (more)

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