About the Author of this Website
God & Country
Religious Views of the Founding Fathers, Presidents, and Vice Presidents
About This Site
Religion and Politics in the U.S.
U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents
Purpose of This Site
In discussions of the role of religion in the United States, in both government and law, questions often come up about the religious views of the founding fathers, presidents, and others. What did they think about about such things as the separation of church and state, public prayer, and the relation between religion and morality? These are not easy questions, since their views are often complex and nuanced, and sometimes changed over the course of very full lives. Partisans of various points of view on church-state issue have all too often quoted selectively and out of context. There are lists of the religious affiliations of these men, both in books and on the web. All the lists I have seen contain at least minor inaccuracies, and sometimes major ones, and even when technically correct, they can be misleading.
This site is intended to help address these important questions, correct inaccuracies, and provide a less misleading picture, by presenting the religious views of the founding fathers, presidents, and selected others, in their own words or the words of their contemporaries where possible, fairly and without bias. (For more detail about what information is and is not included, how I have dealt with controversies, and so on, see: About the Individual Entries.)
This site is not meant to describe the religious views of the general public, nor the ebb and flow of informed opinion on matters of religion. And, although it may help clarify such issues, it is not intended as a discussion of constitutional law or of issues of church and state (see below for a selection of books and sites that do deal with these more general topics: Religion in American Life & Government, Separation of Church & State, Advocacy & Litigation Organizations Concerned with Religion & Government).
Like everyone else, I have my own opinions and biases, but I have made every attempt to be fair and impartial in creating this site. This is a large topic, so if you feel I have left out any important figures, misquoted or misrepresented anyone's view, or if you can direct me to additional relevant information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. I hope you find this site both useful and interesting.
About the Individual Entries
Since the focus of this site is on the religious views of the various individuals discussed, I have included only minimal general biographical material. The page for each person lists name, dates of birth and death, role in US history, and, when I can find the data, some basic facts about educational background, occupation, and political affiliation. (Because virtually everyone listed here held political office, and so many held judgeships and military positions, I have as a rule not not included anything about these areas. Information about these topics, as well as more detailed biographical data, can be found in the references at the bottom of each individual's page.)
The bulk of each page is devoted to material related to religion and politics. I first list religious affiliation (formal membership or close, long-term association; caution must be applied here, since affiliation does not prove adherence -- George Washington offers a good example of this difficulty), then provide brief overviews of the subject's religious beliefs and opinions about the appropriate relationship between religion and government. This is followed by a selection of relevant quotations (where available) and, in a few cases, commonly misattributed quotes or inaccurate quotes, and finally a listing of references and links, both general and specifically relating to religion and politics.
While there is an abundance of information available for the more prominent people listed here, there is much less (and sometimes essentially nothing) on some of the more obscure ones. Furthermore, much of this information is uncertain or open to differing interpretations. Even such basic facts as religious affiliation are often subject to controversy. I have done my best, in the face of all this uncertainty, ambiguity, and lack of reliable information (or even any information at all, in some cases), to be as fair and thorough as possible. When the facts are clear, but there is, nonetheless, disagreement, I have tried to give the factually verifiable version. Where there is well-founded controversy or uncertainty, I have tried to present both sides. And where there is insufficiency or absence of information, I have left things blank. If you have, or know of a source for, any information which would clarify ambiguity or fill in lacunae, please email me at email@example.com.
Religion in American Life and Government
Separation of Church and State
Advocacy and Litigation Organizations Concerned with Religion & Government
General Information About the Founding Fathers
The Founding Fathers and Religion
General Information about the Presidents and Vice Presidents
About the Author of this Website