Vital Signs

The Necessity of Christianity

According to an increasingly popular and influential narrative, the Founding Fathers were mostly crypto-atheistic deists who, as Christopher Hitchens is fond of pointing out, did not mention God in the Constitution, and gave us a First Amendment because they were, at best, suspicious of Christianity and wished to limit its influence.  And it’s a good thing they did, because Christianity is a font of ignorance, violence, and superstition, mankind did not begin to achieve much of anything until we had thrown off most of its shackles, and once we throw off those that remain, we can look forward to greater levels of peace, freedom, and rationality.  This narrative is believed by perhaps a majority of educated people in Europe and a growing number of educated people here, and can be found in the best-selling books of such “new atheists” as Hitchens (god Is Not Great), Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), and Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation).

This is pure nonsense.  As Mel Bradford pointed out in A Worthy Company, the Framers of the Constitution were

with no more than five exceptions (and perhaps no more than three) . . . orthodox members of one of the established Christian communions: approximately twenty-nine Anglicans, sixteen to eighteen Calvinists, two Methodists, two Lutherans, two Roman Catholics, one lapsed Quaker and sometime-Anglican, and one open Deist,...

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