Column: The myth of a Judeo-Christian founding of the U.S.


Commentary by Tyler Gresh, Noblesville

Editor’s note: This guest column was submitted in response to letters published in the Dec. 11 and 25 2018 editions of Current in Noblesville. See them at

There were many “Founding Fathers” of the United States. Somehow, the narrative that they “founded the U.S. on Judeo-Christianity” still survives. Here are some interesting facts about our most famous “Founding Fathers” to disprove this myth.

Both Jefferson and Madison opposed clergy and chaplains from holding office due to the fact that the appointments could produce religious exclusion as well as political disharmony (how prophetic of them!).

Adams synthesized Puritan, deist and Humanist concepts and maintained that religion must be based on common sense and reasonableness and should change and evolve.

Washington emphasized religious toleration in a nation with numerous denominations and religions and never used his religion as a device for partisan purposes or in official undertakings as president.

Franklin clarified himself as a deist in his 1771 autobiography and embraced the radical notion of an egalitarian democracy or a belief in human equality, especially with respect to social, political and economic affairs.

Hamilton dropped his religiosity during the American Revolution and became a conventional liberal with theistic inclinations who was an irregular churchgoer, at best.

I, personally, have no problem with the mayor participating in a National Day of Prayer. That is his choice and his right as a citizen. As long as he keeps his religion out of our laws, he is upholding what the Founding Fathers intended — a society and country where no religion is dominant over another; one where we are free to worship, or not worship, according to our own beliefs. That, and not some Judeo-Christian foundation myth, is what makes America the land of the free. I would hope the mayor includes those of all faiths in his day of prayer, and atheists or agnostics like myself can abstain.