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The faiths of the founding fathers by David…
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The faiths of the founding fathers

by David L. Holmes

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I thought it was a great book. I've known since high school that many of our Founding Fathers considered themselves Deists, but I never really knew what that meant. This book gave me a much better idea of what Deists believe and showed how this belief system influenced the birth of our nation. ( )
  JeffChadwell | Dec 22, 2016 |
This is a very interesting take on the faith of our founding fathers, their wives and the faiths of 20th century presidents. After reading this book, I am still confident that the majority of our founders were indeed religious and mostly Christian in their leanings at some point in their lives. I'm not saying they were angels or great Christians, but, I do think their belief systems were of a religious nature. Remember that the times were very different and religious traditions were very different from the traditions of today. Additionally, I am still convinced that America has been under the protection of a real God, without whom I don't think we could have won the Revolution. Still, the information contained in this historical reference has been very helpful and enlightening. ( )
  JaneAustenNut | Jul 16, 2014 |
Good, well-researched account of a selected number of important figures of the period and how they related both to church and to religion. Makes judgements based on the known behaviors, letters and speeches as well as on comments by contemporaries. Very little free-lancing or speculating. Trails off toward the end by considering minor figures in whom our interest is not so great. Written as an extract of the dense historical text for a layman and works in that regard. ( )
  nyambol | Jul 12, 2012 |
I found this a fascinating book. David Holmes has done quite well disentangling the religious stances of the founding fathers of the United States. There are many today who believe that all of them wre firm Christians, while another group tends to see most of them as pure deists. The reality is quite mixed. The quintessential Deist is Ethan Allen, followed by Thomas Jefferson. George Washington and Abigail Adams would be classfied as Desiteic Crhristians, while Patrick Henry would be an orthodox Christian (also Samuel Adams, Elias Boudinot, and John Jay). John Adams was Unitarian, but a firm church goer with some deistic tendencies. Benjamin Franklin was a moralist who frequently attended Chruch of England services, but disdained orthodoxy.

One chaper is devoted to the tendency of wives and daughters of the founding fathers to be orthodox Christians. The final chapter brings the story up to the present and discusses religious beliefs of Presidents Gerald Ford through George W. Bush.

I wasn't sure I was going to like the book when I picked it up, but became quite enthralled with the descriptions of the various people talked about. This book is a good corrective to the grea amount of misinformation about the religious life of the statesmen who created the United States. ( )
1 vote vpfluke | Aug 18, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David L. Holmesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Killen, StefanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trumbull, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

-- L. P. Hartley
The Wolf shall dwell with the Lamb, and the Leopard lie down with the Kid -- the Cow, and the Bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together, and the Lyon shall eat straw like the Ox -- none shall then hurt, or destroy; for the earth shall be full of the Knowledge of the Lord.

When this Millennium shall commence, if there shall be any need of Civil Government, indulge me in the fancy that it will be in the republican form, or something better.

-- Samuel Adams (The Father of the American Revolution) to John Adams, 4 October 1790)
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"On my arrival in the United States," the famous French traveler Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the early nineteenth century, "the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention."
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Table of Contents:

Religion in the American colonies in 1770 -- The Anglican tradition and the Virginia founding fathers -- The enlightenment religion of deism -- The founding fathers and deism -- The religious views of Benjamin Franklin -- The religious views of George Washington -- The religious views of John Adams -- The religious views of Thomas Jefferson -- The religious views of James Madison -- The religious views of James Monroe -- The wives and daughters of the founding fathers -- A layperson's guide to distinquishing a deist from an orthodox Christian -- Three orthodox Christians -- The past is a foreign country
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195300920, Hardcover)

It is not uncommon to hear Christians argue that America was founded as a Christian nation. But how true is this claim?
In this compact book, David L. Holmes offers a clear, concise and illuminating look at the spiritual beliefs of our founding fathers. He begins with an informative account of the religious culture of the late colonial era, surveying the religious groups in each colony. In particular, he sheds light on the various forms of Deism that flourished in America, highlighting the profound influence this intellectual movement had on the founding generation. Holmes then examines the individual beliefs of a variety of men and women who loom large in our national history. He finds that some, like Martha Washington, Samuel Adams, John Jay, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson's daughters, held orthodox Christian views. But many of the most influential figures, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John and Abigail Adams, Jefferson, James and Dolley Madison, and James Monroe, were believers of a different stripe. Respectful of Christianity, they admired the ethics of Jesus, and believed that religion could play a beneficial role in society. But they tended to deny the divinity of Christ, and a few seem to have been agnostic about the very existence of God. Although the founding fathers were religious men, Holmes shows that it was a faith quite unlike the Christianity of today's evangelicals. Holmes concludes by examining the role of religion in the lives of the presidents since World War II and by reflecting on the evangelical resurgence that helped fuel the reelection of George W. Bush.
An intriguing look at a neglected aspect of our history, the book will appeal to American history buffs as well as to anyone concerned about the role of religion in American culture.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:07 -0400)

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