What were the most significant influences on the Founding Fathers? Christianity, Deism, something else, or some combination of factors? How did the specific philosophical and theological influences shape the Founding Father’s specific views on government?
Both Christianity and Deism had a significant influence on the Founding Fathers. However, arguably, Deism had the most significant influence. Christianity was the dominant religion in infant America, as Puritans introduced strong religious beliefs. As such, most of the Founding Fathers were born and bred in Christian families. Resulting, the spiritual infrastructure founded on Christianity (Grgurinović, 2017). It is worth noting that during this period, Christianity was an institutionalized religion in America, with the Church being highly politicized and involved in running the nation. In fact, during the colonial period, the Church served as the government of the day. However, the introduction of Deism and its adoption by various Founding Fathers such as Thomas Franklin and Benjamin Franklin induced a paradigm shift in how they viewed spirituality and the government (Grgurinović, 2017). Moreover, Deism’s philosophical and theological influence shaped the Founding Father’s specific views on government. Notably, these views informed significant changes that shaped the future of the United States.
Deism influenced the separation of the Church and the State. Notably, Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson campaigned for the separation of the Church and the State. Notably, Jefferson described himself as a Christian Deist. Jefferson strongly believed that all faiths were cultural artifacts. Hence, by embracing a particular religion and imposing it on citizens, the government violated their liberty and enslaved their minds (Kidd, 2017). Jefferson and other Founding Fathers influenced by Deism advocated for inclusiveness as opposed to exclusiveness. As statesmen, the Founding Fathers who subscribed to a similar school of thought informed by Deism was to break the traditional link between the government and religion (Grgurinović, 2017). It is these views that led to the individual freedom of religion that Americans enjoy up to date. Jefferson’s belief in the existent of a benevolent God who does not interfere with the universe’s affairs also informed his perspective when drafting the Declaration of Independence. Deist, like Jefferson, believed that all humans were created equally and, therefore, the government should treat them equally (Kidd, 2017). Therefore, Deism significantly influenced the Founding Fathers’ views regarding the distinction between government and religion.
Separation of religion and government reinforced the legal right of free Americans to live in their country freely. It changed how the American government approached policy and law-making as well as how it treats its citizens. With the separation of the Church and the State came the well-established individual freedoms and liberties undergirding American society. Although also influenced by Christianity, the freedoms and liberties were due to the theological and philosophical views of Deism, which allowed the Founding Fathers to break from institutionalized Christianity. Therefore, Deism had the most significant influence on the Founding Fathers views on government.