Faith of Our Fathers edited by Mary Sennholz
Most of the Founding Fathers Were Devoutly Religious
OCTOBER 01, 1997 by NORMAN S. REAM
The Foundation for Economic Education • 1997 • 398 pages • $19.95 paperback
Norman S. Ream is a retired minister living in Estes Park, Colorado.
Although it cannot be established that Alexis de Tocqueville actually wrote his much quoted words to the effect that “America is great because America is good,” that conclusion seems more and more to be verified by the passage of time as the greatness of America fades along with its goodness.
Tocqueville was convinced, as have been the majority of our best historians, that Americans of the eighteenth century were dedicated to the moral and ethical precepts of Jesus and the New Testament. That indeed was the “Faith of Our Fathers.” The idea that many of the Founding Fathers were atheists and agnostics is completely false. Not only were most of them devoutly religious, they firmly believed that liberty and justice depended on an observance of the moral and ethical demands of the Christian religion. A people desiring individual freedom and national prosperity had of necessity to be guided by high standards of morality and ethics and a condition could grow and develop only out of a strong religious faith. These were the ideas whose consequence would be “one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.”
These are also the ideas and principles that have been nourished and advocated by The Foundation for Economic Education and its journal, The Freeman, for the past several decades. Now Mary Sennholz has culled from that journal 25 of the best articles concerning the faith that made America great, the ideas and principles that produce a happy and prosperous citizenry and how the great blessings of liberty can be preserved. As the editor states in her introduction, “The moral and self-evident truths that guided our Founding Fathers may not be fashionable in our time, but they are as inescapable and inexorable as they have been throughout the ages. We are free to ignore and disobey them, but we cannot escape the rising price we must pay for defying them.”
The book is in four sections designated: I. The Spirit of ’76; II. A Biblical View; III. The Rights of Man; and IV. The Crisis of Our Age. Among the authors well known to Freeman readers are Clarence Carson, George Roche, F. A. Harper, Ben Rogge, John Williams, Ed Opitz, and Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn. The authors agree that the crisis facing America today is not an economic nor a political one but a moral and spiritual one. It is a crisis of character that has produced a crisis of behavior, a poverty of values caused by a poverty of faith.
It is within the limitations of this Faith of Our Fathers that the authors included here believe any economic and political system must operate if it is to preserve and protect individual freedom. It is a faith in universally valid principles and objective truths which hold man to be ultimately responsible for his own welfare and considers it immoral for government with its monopoly of power forcibly to take from one citizen in order to give to another. Hence this faith becomes the source of the free-market philosophy.
Again, as the editor insists, “To the Founding Fathers, the God of nature and the God of Scripture was the same God. Surely there were differences in the understanding of natural law and the interpretation of revealed law, but the differences did not raise a doubt on the common bond, the Judeo-Christian faith. It was a spiritual and moral foundation on which America was built.”
It is the same spiritual and moral foundation that shall make it possible for us to endure as a “great and good” nation with liberty and justice for all.