“[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” So said Dr. Benjamin Rush in an 1806 publication: “On the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic.”
The vast majority of the Founders were orthodox Christians and their faith was unmistakably evident in most of what they wrote and said. The Bible was the most often quoted book of the times – hardly surprising since one was to be found in every household. Of the delegates who attended at least some portion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 only Benjamin Franklin could not be called an orthodox Christian, but his call for prayer on June 28 as the delegate’s arguments reached a boiling point reveals, if one is to believe his integrity in saying it, a faith that was clearly not “deist” in theology.
Today, the faith of the Founders is ignored or marginalized as though mere mention might somehow taint the discussion. John Adams famously observed that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” One wonders whether we ignore the impact of the Founders’ religion on the genius of their Constitution at our peril.