There is much debate concerning the religion of our Founding Fathers. One side believes the U.S. began as a Christian nation while the other side contends there was zero Christian influence in our country’s founding. Reading the addresses, letters, and other writings from our Founders reveal a reality that’s a bit more complex.
Some were Deists, some Bible-believing Christians, and some held other beliefs. Some were skeptical of different aspects of Christianity. All were sinners. It’s apparent, however, as a collective whole they held the Bible and Christianity in very high regard and drew from it regularly during the founding of our nation. You can see the influence of Scripture on our Constitution, laws, and culture.
The Founding Fathers and the Bible: Echoes in American Culture
The impact of the Bible in the founding of our country is remarkable. The Founders drew straight from Scripture, and other sources, to put together the documents that would govern this great nation. You can hear the echoes of their efforts even today. Consider the following 5 ways Scripture has influenced these United States:
1) The division of powers.
The Founders believed the biblical stance that people are inherently sinful and concluded they would ultimately abuse the power they were given. To safeguard their new republic from the tyranny of corrupted power, they built in the system of checks and balances our government is known for even today. They separated the government’s power between 3 branches to protect us from tyranny.
2) Influence on laws.
The U.S. has many laws on the books taken directly from the Bible, many from the book of Deuteronomy. They include laws that punish those who would rape and assault women, those who steal, and those who commit murder. Our bankruptcy laws and laws that govern fair trade in commerce (just weights) are other examples. The Sixth Amendment assures us a fair trial with witnesses before being convicted of a crime. This also comes from Scripture. There are many others.
3) Impact on education.
Over a hundred of the first colleges and universities in the U.S. began as Christian schools. This includes Harvard (Puritan), Yale (Puritan), and Princeton (Presbyterian). The original New England Primer for grade schools used Bible verses to teach the alphabet and included children’s prayers, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. This is a testament to the religious, and specifically Christian, atmosphere that dominated early American culture.
4) Presence in our language.
Language and culture are so intricately interwoven you can’t fully understand one without the other. If you take a look at many common expressions that were once popular or are still in use in the US, you’ll find many many expressions taken straight from the pages of Scripture. While it’s admittedly not tied directly to our Founders per se, it is a testament to the Bible’s influence on our culture. You may have heard someone say, “don’t be such a doubting Thomas”, from Thomas’ struggle to believe in the risen Christ.
Here are a few other examples with references: Scapegoat (Leviticus 16:9-10), sign of the times (Matthew 16:3), to wash your hands of the matter(Matthew 27:24), the writing on the wall (Daniel 5), a house divided against itself cannot stand(Matthew 12:25). There are many, many more.
5) Freedom of religion.
The Founders created laws that protect each individual citizen’s freedom to worship whichever god or god(s) he or she sees fit, or to not worship or follow any religion at all. The Bible also gives every individual the freedom to believe according to his or her own conscience. All are invited to believe in Jesus, but none are forced to believe or worship Him even once you believe. The Bible gives us all a free will and allows us the choice to believe or not believe. To worship and follow Him or not.
The Word of God is Forever
Much has been said about the Founding Fathers and the Bible. Looking at the historical record, it’s apparent the Founders saw the uniqueness, superiority, and value of the Bible. They held it in high esteem, so much so, they drew on it frequently, among other sources, to put together the documents that would govern this nation. You can still see its influence in our culture today because God’s principles, precepts, and laws are eternal.
They make the Bible beneficial for a nation and beneficial for you and your family in your day to day life. Are you looking for ways to spend more time in the Word as a family? The Bible Project is an innovative tool for Bible study for you and your family. Based out of Portland, Oregon, This non-profit creative studio produces videos and other resources designed to get you into the Word. At ORBC, we believe in connecting families and we believe in the power of the Word of God.
For more Bible study resources and information on how to get connected at ORBC, Contact Us.