About the Author of this Website Search Page

God & Country

Religious Views of the Founding Fathers, Presidents, and Vice Presidents



About This Site

Purpose of This Site
The Individual Entries
About the Author of this Website

Religion and Politics in the U.S.

Religion in American Life and Government
Separation of Church and State
Advocacy and Litigation Organizations Concerned with Religion and Government

The Founders

General Information About the Founding Fathers
The Founding Fathers and Religion

Signers of the Declaration of Independence Listed by Colony
Signers of the Declaration of Independence in Alphabetical Order
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention Listed by State
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Alphabetical Order
Other Founders in Alphabetical Order

U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents

General Information about the Presidents and Vice Presidents

Presidents in Chronological Order
Presidents in Alphabetical Order
Vice Presidents in Chronological Order
Vice Presidents in Alphabetical Order


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 peterroberts.geo@yahoo.com. 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 peterroberts.geo@yahoo.com.





Religion in American Life and Government

Divining America: Religion & the National Culture (National Humanities Center: Teacher Serve)
The American Religious Experience (West Virginia University)
RELIGION 166: Religious Life in the United States (Wake Forest University)
Religion & the Founding of the American Republic (Library of Congress)
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Religion (in Early Virginia) (Colonial Williamsburg)

Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People, Yale Univ. Press, 1972
Catherine L. Albanese, America: Religions and Religion, Wadsworth, 1981
Patricia U. Bonomi, Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America, Oxford Univ. Press, 1986
Jon Butler, Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (Studies in Cultural History), Harvard Univ. Press, 1990
Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of the Founders: Religion and the New Nation 1776-1826, Harper & Row, 1987
Ed. Edwin S. Gaustad, A Documentary History of Religion in America to 1877, Eerdmans, 2003
Robert T. Handy, A History of the Churches in the United States and Canada, Oxford Univ. Press, 1977
Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, Yale Univ. Press, 1991
Donald G. Mathews, Religion in the Old South (Chicago History of American Religion), Univ. of Chicago Press, 1977
Jon Meacham, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation, Random House, 2007
Mark A. Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, Eerdmans, 1992
Peter M. Rinaldo, Atheists, Agnostics, and Deists in America : A Brief History, DorPete Press, 2000


Separation of Church and State

Notes on the Founding Fathers & Separation of Church & State (Quartz Hill School of Theology)
Separation of Church & State
Religion & the Constitution: The Triumph of Practical Politics, By Martin E. Marty (Religion Online -- originally published in The Christian Century, 1994)
Institute for First Amendment Studies
Library: Modern Documents: Separation of Church and State (Internet Infidels)
Little-Known U.S. Document Signed by President Adams Proclaims America's Government Is Secular, by Jim Walker (Early America)
Original Intent and The Free Exercise of Religion, by Joseph A. Zavaletta, Jr. (Early America)
Free Exercise, Original Intent and the Meaning of Interpretation , By J.C. Herndon (Early America)
A Plea for Religious Liberty, by Roger Williams (Constitution.org)

Rob Boston, et al., Why the Religious Right Is Wrong About Separation of Church and State, Prometheus Books, 1994
Rob Boston, Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn't Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do, Prometheus Books, 2014
Frederick Clarkson, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, Common Courage Press, 1997
Edwin S. Gaustad, Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land: A History of Church and State in America, Oxford Univ. Press, 2003
Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore, The Godless Constitution: A Moral Defense of the Secular State, W.W. Norton, 1997
Ed. by Merrill D. Peterson and Robert C. Vaughan, The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom: Its Evolution and Consequences in American History (Cambridge Studies in Religion and American Public Life), Cambridge Univ. Press, 1988


Advocacy and Litigation Organizations Concerned with Religion & Government

American Center for Law & Justice
ACLU: Religious Liberty
Americans United for Separation of Church & State
Baptist Joint Committee On Public Affairs
The Interfaith Alliance
TheocracyWatch





General Information About the Founding Fathers

Founding Documents of the United States
Colonial Hall -- A Look at America's Founders
The Framers of the Constitution -- character sketches by fellow delegate William Pierce (U.S. Constitution Online)
Americanrevolution.org

Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, Knopf, 2001
Joseph J. Ellis, American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic, Knopf, 2007
Dumas Malone, The Story of the Declaration of Independence - Bicentennial Edition, Oxford University Press, 1975
David McCullough, 1776, Simon & Schuster, 2005


The Founding Fathers and Religion

The Founding Fathers' Religion Debate & Poll (YouDebate Forums) -- balanced, rather brief review
Notes on the Founding Fathers & Separation of Church & State (Quartz Hill School of Theology) -- thoughtful and balanced, Baptist perspective
Religious Liberalism and the Founding Fathers, By Nicholas F. Gier (University of Idaho)

Ed. Norman Cousins, The Republic of Reason: The Personal Philosophies of the Founding Fathers, Harper San Francisco, 1990
John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers, Baker Book House, 1995
Gregg L. Frazer, The Religious Beliefs of America's Founders: Reason, Revelation, Revolution (American Political Thought), University Press of Kansas, 2012
Ed. Matthew Harris & Thomas Kidd, The Founding Fathers and the Debate over Religion in Revolutionary America: A History in Documents, Oxford Univ. Press, 2011
Tim F. Lahaye, Faith of Our Founding Fathers, Master Books, 1996
Frank Lambert, The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America, Princeton University Press, 2003
Alf J. Mapp, The Faiths of Our Fathers: What America's Founders Really Believed, Rowman & Littlefield, 2003
Jon Meacham, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation, Random House, 2007





General Information about the Presidents and Vice Presidents

POTUS -- Internet Public Library: Presidents of the United States
The Presidents (The White House)
The American President (Miller Center of Public Affairs)
Presidents
Presidency Research & Resources on the Net
Religious Beliefs of the Presidents of the United States, by Franklin Steiner (Internet Infidels)



About the Author of this Website Search Page