Is America a “Christian nation?”

In part one, I introduced how revisionist historians suggest our Founders were “liberal theologians,” skeptics and agnostics. I then offered preliminary evidence confirming the devout faith of our Founders. Now I want to let them speak, using words they wrote or said when America was still young.

The inconvenient fact is America was indeed forged as a Christian nation. The Founding Fathers and early American generations all agreed with this foundational native truth. In the following quotes you’ll hear from U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices, legislators and influential pioneers in American education, medicine and commerce.

JOHN ADAMS (1813):

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”[1]


“In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.”[2]


Let us enter on this important business under the idea that we are Christians on whom the eyes of the world are now turned…Let us earnestly call and beseech Him, for Christ’s sake, to preside in our councils….We can only depend on the all powerful influence of the Spirit of God, Whose Divine aid and assistance it becomes us as a Christian people most devoutly to implore. Therefore I move that some minister of the Gospel be requested to attend this Congress every morning . . . in order to open the meeting with prayer.[3]

JOHN JAY (1816):

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”[4]

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN once penned a recruitment pamphlet for Europeans seeking to send their kids to America. He described our mid-1750s Christian colonial culture as one with no bad behavior by the youth. He noted “that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practised (sic).” But Franklin went even further. He said that atheists and nonbelievers were “rare and secret.” In fact, America was so Christianized that Franklin observed Americans could live “to a great age” and never personally meet “either an Atheist or an Infidel.” Franklin extolled how America’s Christian culture produced “mutual forbearance and kindness” and a “remarkable prosperity” that has brought “favor” to the nation.”[5]


I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament.”[6]

JOSEPH STORY (c. 1840):

“One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law. There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundations.”[7]


Our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion…The Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children under a free government ought to be instructed. No truth is more evident than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”[8]


To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. All efforts made to destroy the foundations of our Holy Religion ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation… in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom…whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government – and all the blessings which flow from them – must fall with them.”[9]


There must be religion. When that ligament is torn, society is disjointed and its members perish…The most important of all lessons is the denunciation of ruin to every state that rejects the precepts of religion.”[10]
Still not convinced? The question of a “Christian nation” spawned a Congressional study in 1854 to review early Founding records, diaries, speeches and other documents. The House Judiciary Committee concluded: “Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle… In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity… That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.”[11]

Do you recall the popular Internet quote (often attributed to John Adams) I mentioned in Part One? It’s the statement used by the irreligious and secularists: “The government of the United States, is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

Actually, John Adams neither wrote nor said such a thing.

The origin of this statement comes from a clipped phrase in a treaty, authored by Joel Barlow (not John Adams). In 1796, America contracted a treaty with Tripoli [Libya] that President Adams signed. Evidently, Barlow tried to appease Muslim pirates, not happy with America’s “Christian” nation status, by assuaging the buccaneers with more secular sentiments. Secretary of War James McHenry, part of Adam’s Cabinet, was not pleased with either the treaty or Barlow’s loose handle on the truth. He wrote after the fact a rather telling profession:

“The Senate, my good friend, and I said so at the time, ought never to have ratified the treaty alluded to, with the declaration that ‘the government of the United States, is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.’ What else is it founded upon? This act always appeared to me like trampling upon the cross. I do not recollect that Barlow was even reprimanded for this outrage upon the government and religion.”[12]

Not only does McHenry finger the right perpetrator of this myth (Joel Barlow)—which secularists cherry-pick to their advantage—but also the real truth. Indeed, our nation was “founded on the Christian religion” and to suggest otherwise is like desecrating the very symbol of Christianity itself (the cross). McHenry even wondered if Barlow was “reprimanded” for introducing such a lie.

It makes you wonder what John Adams, James McHenry, John Jay and other Founding Fathers would think of some of the memes, web pages, books, articles and blogs of today’s secular revisionists.

It’s why it’s time to flip the switch on these nonreligious organizations and revisionist historians. They have misconstrued, misinterpreted and misapplied the desires of our Founding Fathers for too long. They’ve shown shoddy academic research, used biased assumptions and employed faulty facts. The inconvenient truth is we were indeed forged as a Christian nation. The secularist may not like it, but facts are facts.

As for the rest of us, may we ever glory in the final stanza of a grand patriotic hymn:

Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King!



Dr. Rick Chromey is an author, historian and theologian who speaks and writes on matters of religion, culture, history, technology and leadership. He lives in Boise, ID.


[1] Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIII, p. 292-294. In a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813.

[2] John Quincy Adams, An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport at Their Request on the Sixty-First Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1837 (Newburyport: Charles Whipple, 1837), pp. 5-6.

[3] Elias Boudinot, The Life, Public Services, Addresses, and Letters of Elias Boudinot, J. J. Boudinot, editor (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1896), Vol. I, pp. 19, 21, speech in the First Provincial Congress of New Jersey.

[4] William Jay, The Life of John Jay (New York: J. & J. Harper, 1833), Vol. II, p. 376, to John Murray Jr. on October 12, 1816.

[5] The Works of Dr. Benjamin Franklin (New York: Frederick Campe and Company, 1835): 306.

[6] Benjamin Rush, Letters of Benjamin Rush, L. H. Butterfield, editor (Princeton, New Jersey: American Philosophical Society, 1951), Vol. I, p. 475, to Elias Boudinot on July 9, 1788.

[7] Joseph Story, Life and Letters of Joseph Story, William W. Story, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. II, p. 8.

[8] Noah Webster, A Collection of Papers on Political, Literary, and Moral Subjects (New York: Webster and Clark, 1843), p. 291, from his “Reply to a Letter of David McClure on the Subject of the Proper Course of Study in the Girard College, Philadelphia. New Haven, October 25, 1836.”

[9] Jedidiah Morse, A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers and Consequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America, Delivered at Charlestown, April 25, 1799, The Day of the National Fast (MA: Printed by Samuel Etheridge, 1799), p. 9.

[10] Collections of the New York Historical Society for the Year 1821 (New York: E. Bliss and E. White, 1821), pp. 32, 34, from “An Inaugural Discourse Delivered Before the New York Historical Society by the Honorable Gouverneur Morris, (President,) 4th September, 1816.”

[11] Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress (Washington: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1854), pp. 6-9.

[12] “Letter from James McHenry to John Adams,” in Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and John Adams: Edited from the Papers of Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury, Volume 2, ed. George Gibbs, William Van Norden, Printer, 1846. p.421…