Historical information about the deep faith of America’s Founding Fathers including Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Noah Webster, Abraham Lincoln and More
Last published in 2012, we are bringing back this article on the faith of America’s founding fathers for Memorial Day, 2020.
What Was the Faith of Our Founding Fathers?
We began compiling these quotes from our founding fathers soon after we went online in 1995 after seeing how quickly people were forgetting and being misinformed about the deep faith of the men who founded this country. Contrary to popular belief in the 21st century, the men and women who built this country had a deep faith in the Judeo-Christian God and believed in both the Old and New Testaments. The first college built in the new land,, Harvard, was founded on Christian principles as were the other early colleges. It was upon these principles that they built this great nation, envisioning a Christian nation where the state was separate and would not interfere with the church.
53 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence are said to have been deeply-committed Christians. The other three all professed belief in the Bible as the divine truth, the God of scripture, and His personal intervention. The first Congress formed the American Bible Society, and immediately after creating the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress voted to purchase and import 20,000 copies of scripture for the people of this nation.
School children up until the 1960s still prayed in school and learned about their country’s Christian heritage, but the communist agenda as embraced by their socialist puppets has put on end to much of what was once good and righteous about our great nation, undermining the very foundations upon which it once stood. It is our prayer future generations will reclaim this heritage.
Faith of Our Fathers: Quotes from America’s Founding Fathers
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly that this great nation was founded — not by religionists — but by Christians . . . on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” — Patrick Henry
“Do not let anyone claim to be a true American who attempts to remove religion from politics.” — George Washingtion, in his Farewell Address
“Those who pay no regard to religion and seriousness in the persons whom they send to the legislature of any state are guilty of the greatest absurdity and will soon pay dear for their folly.”– John Witherspoon, Signer of Declaration of Independence & President of Princeton University.
“May every citizen in the army and in the country have a proper sense of Deity upon his mind and an impression of the declaration recorded in the Bible, ‘Him that honoreth Me, I will honor, but he that despiseth Me shall be lightly esteemed'” (I Samuel 2:20). — Samuel Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
“We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams, our second president, in an address to military leaders.
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the Gift of God. That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” — Thomas Jefferson quote engraved on the Jefferson Memorial.
“The President, Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service. The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the Divine Will demand that Sunday labor in the Army and Navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity. The discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer nor the cause they defend be imperiled by the profanation of the day or name of the Most High.”— Abraham Lincoln, general order, Nov. 15, 1862
“[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.” — Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence.
“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” — James Madison
“[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.” — Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary.
“I trust that the God of Isaac and of Jacob will protect you, and give you health in my absence. In Him alone we ought to trust; He alone can preserve and guide us through this troublesome world, and I am sure He will hear your Prayers. We are told that the prayers of the righteous prevaileth much, and I add mine for your health and preservation until we meet again.”– Andrew Jackson, in an undated letter to his wife, Rachel
“The man must be bad indeed who can look upon the events of the American Revolution without feeling the warmest gratitude towards the great Author of the Universe whose divine interposition was so frequently manifested in our behalf. And it is my earnest prayer that we may so conduct ourselves as to merit a continuance of those blessings with which we have hitherto been favored.” — George Washington in a Sept. 28, 1789 letter to the Rev. Samuel Langdon
“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian Nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” — John Jay, our first Supreme Court Justice
“Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are of the gift of God?” — Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785, abbreviated from Jefferson Memorial)
“The destiny of America is to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to all men, everywhere.” — John Adams, Second President of the United States
“[Why] should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble. The reverence for the Sacred Book that is thus early impressed lasts long; and probably if not impressed in infancy, never takes firm hold of the mind.” — Fisher Ames author of the final wording for the First Amendment.
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” — George Washington (Farewell Address, Sept. 19, 1796)
“[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God.” — Gouverneur Morris, Penman and Signer of the Constitution.
“It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” — George Washingtion in his Farewell Address.
“I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator and, I hope, to the pure doctrine of Jesus also.” — Thomas Jefferson
“The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.” — John Jay, Original Chief-Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court.
“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” — John Quincy Adams, July 4, 1821.
“Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.” — James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice.
“The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. . . All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.” — Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary.
“An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle sir, is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.” — Patrick Henry,
“This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” — Abraham Lincoln (Gettysburg Address, Nov. 19, 1863)
“Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of thee and thy son, Jesus Christ.”– George Washingtion in his personal prayer book.
“Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.” — Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the U. S. House.
“We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our heart, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” — Abraham Lincoln
“Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” — George Washington, General of the Revolutionary Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, First President of the United States of America.
“The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite….And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United.” letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813.
“[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” — Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence.
“(I)t may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to usurpation on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov’t from interfering in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others.” — James Madison in a letter to Rev. Jasper Adams in the spring of 1832.
“Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!” But in this exclamatic I should have been as fanatical as (Parson) Bryant or (Pedagogue) Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell.” — John Adams.
“No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain blessings than United America. Much to be regretted would it be were we to neglect the means to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly.” — George Washington
More Recent Presidents on Faith
“Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘I would be the most foolish person on this footstool earth if I believed for one moment that I could perform the duties assigned to me without the help of one who is wiser than all.’ I know that in the days to come and the years ahead there are going to be many times when there will only be one set of footprints in my life. If I did not believe that, I could not face the days ahead.”— Ronald Wilson Reagan, National Prayer Breakfast, Feb. 5, 1981
“Our doctrine of equality and liberty and humanity comes from our belief in the brotherhood of man, through the fatherhood of God.” — Calvin Coolidge
“The teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally – I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally – impossible for us to figure to ourselves what life would be if these teachings were removed. We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals; all the standards toward which we with more or less resolution, strive to raise ourselves.” — Theodore Roosevelt
“The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.” — John F. Kennedy (Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1961)
“Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.” — Ronald Reagan (“Evil Empire” Speech, March 8, 1983)
“This nation has placed its destiny in the hands … of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt (State of the Union, Jan. 6, 1941)
“The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.” — Calvin Coolidge
“America was born a Christian nation – America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture.” — Woodrow Wilson
“This nation has placed its destiny in the hands … of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt (State of the Union, Jan. 6, 1941)
“[The words ‘under God’] will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded.” — Dwight Eisenhower
“If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altarfires before which they worshiped.”– Calvin Coolidge, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 5, 1926
“This is a Christian Nation. More than a half century ago that declaration was written into the decrees of the highest court in this land. It is not without significance that the valiant pioneers who left Europe to establish settlements here, at the very beginning of their colonial enterprises, declared their faith in the Christian religion and made ample provision for its practice and for its support. The story of the Christian missionaries who in earliest days endured perils, hardship–even death itself in carrying the message of Jesus Christ to untutored savages is one that still moves the hearts of men.” — Harry Truman in a Letter to Pope Pius XII, August 6, 1947.
“The Founding Fathers believed faith in God was the key to our being a good people and America’s becoming a great nation.” — Ronald Reagan
“We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.” — Barack H. Obama in an address in Turkey.
“Faith of Our Fathers” is from our archives, Nov. 11, 2012
Read more about Washington’s deep faith in A Sacred Trust by Dr. Peter A. Lillback
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