Letter: Religion was integral part of founders' lives

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Regarding the founding fathers and religion, reference the July 6 column by Julie McDonald-Smith and last week’s testy responses by Barbara Doughty, Nancy O’Hagan, William Slavick and Dennis Wilkins.

Some historians identify seven founding fathers: John Adams, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington. Most were raised as Anglicans, Congregationalists or Presbyterians. Some were Deists (believed in a supreme being, but did not practice any religion). Most were baptized, listed as members of a congregation, married practicing Christians and attended (some sporadically) church services. None was an atheist and all invoked divine providence on certain occasions.

Contrary to one letter-writer, the words “God,” “creator” and “divine providence” are mentioned in the Declaration of Independence (co-authored by Hamilton) and the Federalist Papers in various places. John Jay, one of the three authors of the Federalist Papers (with Hamilton and Madison) was probably the most ardent Christian.

George Washington, “the father of our country,” said this in his farewell address: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are the indispensable supports.”

As leaders of a fledgling nation, many of whose members had escaped religious persecution (I am a descendant of French Huguenots who came to America via England), our founding fathers remained silent in legislation on questions of doctrine and denomination to avoid creating the divisiveness that is so rampant today.

Walter J. Eno