Most Americans are ignorant of this fact and many would have the history of the Enlightenment’s effect on the birth of this nation buried and even seek to teach against it.
The fact is that virtually every one of the founders were was a man of the Enlightenment and embraced its ideas and ideals. Washington, Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Pain, and Hamilton were all progressive supporters of the ideals of the Enlightenment. These ideals are defined by Wikipedia as:
“The Enlightenment took scientific reasoning and applied it to human nature, society and religion. Politically the age is distinguished by an emphasis upon liberty, democracy, republicanism and religious tolerance – culminating in the drafting of the United States Declaration of Independence. Attempts to reconcile science and religion resulted in a widespread rejection of prophecy, miracle and revealed religion in preference for Deism – especially by Thomas Paine in “The Age of Reason” and by Thomas Jefferson in his short Jefferson Bible – from which all supernatural aspects were removed.”
I’m currently doing research for a more comprehensive article about what I call, “The Myth of the Christian Nation. The idea of the United States founded as, having been, or being a Christian nation is a complete and utter myth spread by those who would use religion, specifically evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity, to perpetuate and spread that myth in order to create the reality of a Christian Nation where their form of Christianity is the only religion and all laws would be based on their reading of the bible. This country was founded on principles that were meant to prevent exactly this type of theocracy from even taking hold here.
I’ll end with a quote from Thomas Jefferson who, if the Texas Board of Education has its way, will be written out of the history books for his staunch statements in support of the separation of church and state:
“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”
- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, 1816