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The Faith Of The American Founders Debate


Cato Unbound has just released and essay on the relationship between Christianity and liberty in the America founding. Responses will be provided by Steven Green, Brooke Allen, Tommy Kid and Mark Hall. Afterwards they will engage in a debate.



What were the religious beliefs of the American founding generation? What can these beliefs tell us about the relationship that the founders intended between Church and State? And between each of them and the citizen?


A few simple, overstated arguments are probably quite familiar: On one side, It’s argued that the founders were influenced by the Enlightenment, with its skepticism about revealed religion and its reliance on human reason apart from revelation. But certainly not all of the American founders thought this way; many of them were quite orthodox in their religious beliefs and did not intend in any sense to create a secular or nonreligious republic.


Our lead essayist this month is Professor Mark David Hall of George Fox University. He argues that while it’s tempting to apply the label “deist” to the American founders, it at best applied only to a few of them; many were, insofar as we can tell, entirely orthodox in their Christianity. Joining him to discuss will be Professor Steven Green of Willamette University, Professor Thomas Kidd of Baylor University, and noted author Brooke Allen of Bennington College. Comments will remain open for one month, and readers are invited to discuss and ask questions.


For more information go to Cato Unbound.