I would like to comment briefly on a recent letter by Ken Blinco and other related material (“Freedom is a gift of God, not the accomplishment of men,” June 18).
The term “founding fathers” first dates from an address given by Warren G. Harding in 1916. The founding fathers were not a group of men that had like-minded ideas on politics and religion. They were a diverse group of individuals. Their religious views ranged quite widely. Many were what today we would call fundamentalists, many never spoke about religion at all and many were deists, who believed that a first cause created the world but then left it alone with no divine immanence. Many religious terms used during this period were deistic in nature: divine providence, creator, laws of nature, nature’s god. These were the terms used by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.
In the 135,000 cataloged manuscripts of George Washington, the phrase “the religion of Jesus Christ” is used once. Moreover, in the 51 Federalist Papers that can be attributed to Alexander Hamilton, no religious terms are used at all.
The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of God or Christianity. The only religious reference is in its closing: “done in convention ... the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord....”
Mr. Blinco’s reference to Benjamin Franklin calling for a recess during the Constitutional Convention and encouraging his fellow delegates to spend time in prayer may well be true, but is somewhat misleading. After becoming frustrated over a month-long stalemate, he did suggest that each day’s proceedings begin with “prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven....” But the delegates tabled his motion.