A distinguished professor debunks the assertion that America's Founders were deists who desired the strict separation of church and state and instead shows that their political ideas were profoundly influenced by their Christian convictions.
In 2010, David Mark Hall gave a lecture at the Heritage Foundation entitled "Did America Have a Christian Founding?" His balanced and thoughtful approach to this controversial question caused a sensation. C-SPAN televised his talk, and an essay based on it has been downloaded more than 300,000 times.
In this new book, Hall expands upon this essay, making the airtight case that America's Founders were not deists; that they did not create a "godless" Constitution; that even Jefferson and Madison did not want a high wall separating church and state; that most Founders believed the government should encourage Christianity; and that they embraced a robust understanding of religious liberty for biblical and theological reasons. In addition, Hall explains why and how the Founders' views are absolutely relevant today.
This compelling and utterly persuasive book will convince skeptics and equip believers and conservatives to defend the idea that Christian thought was crucial to the nation's founding--and that this benefits all of us, whatever our faith (or lack of faith).
Hall (Great Christian Jurists in American History), senior fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion, argues in this persuasive study that the founders of the United States of America were not deists, but rather leaned on their Christian beliefs to create constitutional order. Though the Constitution never mentions God specifically, Hall suggests that the document bears distinctly Christian elements, such as the phrase "in the year of our lord" and the prohibition of work on Sunday. Hall then argues that the Bill of Rights is rooted in the Christian belief of original sin, which acknowledges that people will inevitably make mistakes, so inherent rights must be protected against trespassers. Through a meticulous reading of the founders' own works, Hall explains how the separation of church and state did not originally mean a total separation, citing the early history of religious support by the state, such as the government funding of chaplains in Congress and in the military. Hall also tracks early conflicts that defined the current understanding of separation of church and state, such as the rejection of religious tests for federal officials. Hall's trenchant analysis will pique the curiosity of any reader interested in the religious origins of American government.