The Faiths of the Founding Fathers

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The Faiths of the Founding Fathers
The Faiths of the Founding Fathers.jpg
AuthorDavid L. Holmes
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date
March 2006
LC ClassBL2747.4.H63 2006

The Faiths of the Founding Fathers is a book by historian of American religion David L. Holmes of the College of William & Mary.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] Holmes approaches the topic of the religion of the founders of the United States by analyzing their public statements and correspondence, the comments left by their contemporaries, and the views, where available, of clergy who knew them.

The main thesis of the book, found on page 134, is that the U.S. Founding Fathers fell into three religious categories:

  1. the smallest group, founders who had left their Judeo-Christian heritages and become adherents of the Enlightenment intellectual movement "Deism". These figures included Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen.[page needed]
  2. the founders who remained practicing Christians. They retained a supernaturalist world view, a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and an adherence to the teachings of their denomination. These founders included Patrick Henry, John Jay, and Samuel Adams.[page needed] Holmes also finds that most of the wives and daughters of the founders fell into this category.[page needed]
  3. the largest group consisted of founders who retained Christian loyalties and practice but were influenced by Deism. They believed in little or none of the miracles and supernaturalism inherent in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Holmes finds a spectrum of such Deistic Christians among the founders,[citation needed] ranging from John Adams and George Washington on the conservative right to Benjamin Franklin and James Monroe on the skeptical left.[page needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holmes, David L. (March 2006). The Faiths of the Founding Fathers. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-530092-5. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  2. ^ Douglas, Davison M. (2007). "Review of Faiths of the Founding Fathers by David L. Holmes". Journal of Church and State. 49 (1): 151–152. doi:10.1093/jcs/49.1.151.
  3. ^ Fairbanks, James D. (14 May 2006). "The Faiths of the Founding Fathers by David L. Holmes". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  4. ^ Liss, David (11 June 2006). "The Founding Fathers". The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  5. ^ Maclean, Iain S. (2008). "Review of Faiths of the Founding Fathers by David L. Holmes". Religious Studies Review. 34 (3): 221. doi:10.1111/j.1748-0922.2008.00308_5.x.
  6. ^ Shoemaker, Stephen P. (2007). "Review of Faiths of the Founding Fathers by David L. Holmes". Fides et Historia. 39 (2): 141–2.
  7. ^ Winters, Michael Sean (11 July 2014). "Religion & the Founding: Holmes' 'The Faiths of the Founding Fathers'". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  8. ^ Wolfe, Alan (7 May 2006). "Keeping the Faith at Arm's Length". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  9. ^ Wood, Gordon S. (8 June 2006). "American Religion: The Great Retreat". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  10. ^ "The Faiths of the Founding Fathers". Publishers Weekly. 27 February 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2018.

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