Independence Day Special: The Founding Fathers on Religion

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Washington June 27 – On this Sunday’s “State of Belief,” The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Welton Gaddy discusses the Founding Fathers and their intention in writing the Constitution with four authors who are experts on the topic. They will tell you why the separation of church and state was important to America’s founding.


Host Rev. Welton Gaddy is joined by Jon Meacham, Susan Jacoby, Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore, who discuss the politically and religiously charged climate in which the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution — and the continuing importance of separating religion from politics.  Welton observes, “so far, the American Constitution has done that better than any framework in history and it’s in all our interests to keep it that way.”


Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek magazine and author of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation, explains that our country has struggled with religion from its founding, through the Civil War, and up till today. Meacham argues America was not founded as a Christian Nation and theologically cannot be a Christian Nation saying, “Jefferson and others had every opportunity to use Christian imagery if they wanted to but they didn’t, they used more deist, more generic language. Theologically you can’t have a Christian nation using the Christian scriptures as Jesus said to Pilate ‘My Kingdom is not of this World.’”

Jacoby, author of the bestselling book Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, who says the values of a decent person are the same whether they are a devoutly religious person or a secularist because they both wish to do good. She says no one should live for their religion, “What you need to live for is love, your work, your children. To say you live for your religion is nuts. People need to live for other people.”

Welton wraps up his discussion of the Founding Fathers with Kramnick and Moore, two scholars from Cornell University whose book, The Godless Constitution, who note the word God does not appear one time in the founding document. Moore says “The Framers created a political system where people could participate with any amount of religiosity or none.” Kramnick adds, “One of the features of American life and politics that most impresses foreigners is our Godless Constitution.”