Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-02-16
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Pr
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Fea offers an even-handed primer on whether America was founded to be a Christian nation, as many evangelicals assert, or a secular state, as others contend. He approaches the title's question from a historical perspective, helping readers see past the emotional rhetoric of today to the recorded facts of our past. Readers on both sides of the issues will appreciate that this book occupies a middle ground, noting the good points and the less-nuanced arguments of both sides and leading us always back to the primary sources that our shared American history comprises.

Author Biography

John Fea is Associate Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. He is the author of the award-winning study The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America and coeditor of and contributor to Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian's Vocation.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xix
Introduction: How to Think Historicallyp. xxi
The Search for a Usable Pastp. xxi
What Do Historians Do?p. xxiii
The United States is a Christian Nation: The History of an Idea
Evangelical America, 1789-1865p. 3
Christian Nationalism in the Early Republicp. 4
The Election of 1800p. 6
Whig Christian Nationalismp. 7
A Christian Nation in Printp. 8
Christian Nationalism in the Civil War Northp. 12
Christian Nationalism and the Confederate States of Americap. 17
Evangelicals, Liberals, and Christian America, 1865-1925p. 22
A Christian Amendment to the Constitutionp. 22
An Evangelical Alliance: 1873p. 25
Fundamentalism and Christian Civilizationp. 29
Liberal Protestantism and Christian Americap. 34
The Supreme Court and the Church of the Holy Trinity Casep. 40
Christian America in a Modern Age, 1925-1980p. 43
The Persistence of the Evangelical Pursuit of a Christian Nationp. 43
Mainline Protestantism and Christian Americap. 46
Catholic Resurgencep. 47
The Revival of Christian America: The 1950sp. 50
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Vision for a Christian Nationp. 51
The Religious Right and Christian Nationalismp. 53
History for the Faithful: The Contemporary Defenders of Christian Americap. 57
Providencep. 60
Christian Whig Historyp. 66
The Founders and Christian Beliefp. 68
Religion and the Constitutionp. 69
Revisionismp. 72
Suggested Reading for Part Onep. 76
Was the American Revolution A Christian Event?
Were the British Colonies Christian Societies?p. 79
"Planting" versus "Founding"p. 79
Jamestownp. 80
Massachusetts Bayp. 85
Christianity and the Coming of the American Revolutionp. 93
A Snapshot of the British-American Colonies in 1763p. 93
The Stamp Act Crisis-1765p. 97
The Stamp Act Crisis-1765p. 97
The Townshend Dutiesp. 100
The Tea Act and the Boston Tea Partyp. 102
The Coercive Actsp. 104
The First Continental Congressp. 105
The Revolutionary Pulpitp. 108
Whig Sermonsp. 108
A Biblical Argument for Revolutionp. 113
Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2p. 115
The Revolution as a "Just War"p. 119
Nature's God: Is the Declaration of Independence a Christian Document?p. 122
Religion and the Continental Congressp. 123
The Declaration of Independence and "Original Intent"p. 127
God and the Declaration of Independencep. 131
Religion in the Critical Periodp. 134
Religion and the Articles of Confederationp. 135
Virginia and the Quest for Religious Libertyp. 137
Massachusetts and Religious Establishmentp. 141
Other Statesp. 143
A "Godless Constitution"?p. 147
The "Need" for a Constitutionp. 148
Religion and the Constitutionp. 150
Slavery and the Constitutionp. 153
The Federalistp. 154
God and the Ratification Debatep. 157
Religion and the States: The "Federalist" Interpretation of the Constitutionp. 160
Religion and the First Amendmentp. 162
A Wall of Separation between Church and State?p. 163
Suggested Reading for Part Twop. 168
The Religious Beliefs of the Founders
Did George Washington Pray at Valley Forge?p. 171
Providencep. 175
Church Involvementp. 177
Washington's Beliefsp. 179
Washington's Faith in Practicep. 182
Communionp. 184
Morality, Ethics, and Public Religionp. 186
Religious Freedomp. 188
John Adams: Devout Unitarianp. 191
Adams and Christian Orthodoxyp. 192
Clergy, Catholics, and Calvinistsp. 194
Religion, America, and the Public Goodp. 199
Thomas Jefferson: Follower of Jesusp. 203
The Intelligent Creatorp. 204
Follower of Jesusp. 205
Jefferson and His Biblesp. 206
Religious Freedomp. 209
The Dilemma of Slaveryp. 211
Benjamin Franklin: Ambitious Moralistp. 216
A Puritan Childhoodp. 217
Was Franklin a Deist?p. 218
A Religion of Virtuep. 220
Franklin's Failuresp. 223
The Religion of the American Dreamp. 225
What about Witherspoon? Three Orthodox Foundersp. 228
John Witherspoon: Presbyterian Patriotp. 229
John Jay: Christian Providentialistp. 233
Samuel Adams: Puritan Republicanp. 237
Suggested Reading for Part Threep. 243
Conclusionp. 244
Notesp. 247
Indexp. 275
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