Was America founded on racism—or Christianity?
July 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Statues across the United States are being removed, defaced, and even toppled in the name of eliminating racism. It seems that no statue or historical individual is exempt from this rage, including America’s founding fathers and even Abraham Lincoln. These same individuals are calling for a complete re-creation of American government and society to eliminate racism and America’s racist roots.
In today’s episode of The Van Maren Show, Mark David Hall speaks about America’s Founding Fathers, the ideals upon which our society was established, and what this means for American’s today. Hall is a distinguished professor of politics at George Fox University and author of the book Did America Have a Christian Founding?
Hall and Van Maren begin by focusing on the Christian tradition upon which the United States was founded. Not only were almost all Americans Christian, Hall says, but the ideas and traditions incorporated into the founding of the United States were Christian ideas and traditions. Hall does note that the founders did not establish America to be an exclusively Christian nation, but to be a nation with freedom of religion.
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“The founders clearly embraced, for instance, a view of religious liberty that would protect Jews, Catholics, all stripes of Protestants and then eventually Muslims and Sikhs in other people of other faiths,” Hall states.
Academics will commonly claim that there were numerous deists among the founding fathers, but Hall states that this just wasn’t true. With deism defined in the traditional sense as believing in “a creator God who creates a universe that steps away from it and doesn’t intervene in the affairs of men and nations,” Hall states that there are maybe only two founders who were truly deists: Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen. The other founders commonly claimed to be deists may not have been orthodox Christians, but their statements clearly indicated a belief in a God who was active in the world.
Somewhere between 50 to 75 percent of the founding fathers were Calvinists, which Hall points out has a robust “resistance ideology.” This foundation may be what is responsible for America rebelling against Great Britain, unlike so many other colonies.
“So many of the Patriots had been reared within this tradition that when parliament and then the king started infringing upon colonial rights, both natural and constitutional rights, they had the tools available to resist this sort of tyranny,” Hall tells listeners.
Hall argues that people are calling for the removal and tearing down of statues in the name of defeating racism don’t understand the history of our founding. It’s easy to focus on George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton, but there were over 50 other individuals who shaped our nation’s founding.
The more popular founders were mainly Anglican, Southern plantation-owners, not representative of the population of founders. Yes, these men owned slaves, and so did many other founders, but Hall argues that there is a difference between owning one house slave to cook and clean and owning hundreds to labor in the hot sun farming all year. In addition, many of the founders who did own slaves freed their slaves upon their deaths.
Listen to the full interview here:
The Founders also recognized that slavery couldn’t go on forever, but to abolish slavery and found a new nation was too much to tackle all at once. The founders risked losing all of the Southern states over the issue of slavery. It is hard to know for certain, but it seems likely that there was a better chance of abolishing slavery by keeping the Southern states in the Union versus allowing them to become a distinct nation.
Still, people contend that America was established to be a Christian nation and has been run by white Christians for almost two centuries. Hall points out the importance the founders placed on religious freedom and freedom of speech to highlight that America was founded on Christian and moral principles, but not to be a solely Christian nation.
“If you want to have a Republican form of government, you must have moral people,” Hall says. “The founders would have found it hard to imagine a non-religious people governing itself[, but that] doesn’t mean it's impossible.”
Hall points to Japan and Taiwan as examples of successful republics in relatively non-religious societies.
Hall highlights three of the most important points the founders focused on in the creation of the America: the protection of life, religious liberty, and limited national government power.
“They were indisputably on record saying innocent human life from the womb to its natural end must be protected as a matter of law[.] … So limited national government power, the protection of innocent human life, and religious liberty are three takeaways,” Hall states.
He continues, “I think any right-thinking person would say the protection of innocent human life has to trump a woman’s right to control her own body[.] … I think for the founders, that would just be a no brainer.”
You can get Hall’s book, Did America Have A Christian Founding?, at Amazon, or on his website here.
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