WASHINGTON – While some believe that the Founding Fathers of the United States of America were secular in their thinking, one author argues that a central founder, Samuel Adams, was religious, and represented the norm.
Ira Stoll, author of the November 2008 book, Samuel Adams: A Life, spoke to those gathered at the office of Family Research Council on Wednesday.
At the FRC-hosted event, titled "Samuel Adams: Who He Was, and Why He Matters Now," Stoll detailed aspects of Adams' life, including the influence Christianity had on him and his political efforts.
"Samuel Adams was a devout Congregationalist Christian whose faith motivated him and strengthened him in the revolutionary cause," said Stoll.
"He often would argue that God was on the side of the revolutionaries. He was the son of a deacon and married the daughter of a minister. He had a close relationship with his father-in-law."
According to Stoll, there were times when the founders turned to negotiations with England, like Benjamin Franklin, or walked away briefly from politics, like John Adams.
"[But Samuel] Adams at that time did not feel like he was alone. He had with him the confidence that God is on his side, that his cause was right, and that if he persisted he would prevail," said Stoll.
Regarding his political career, Adams enacted policies influenced by his faith.
"Certain elected officials were required to declare that 'I believe the Christian religion and have a firm persuasion of its truth,'" said Stoll.
"The Massachusetts Constitution Adams drafted and helped pass provided for freedom of conscience, but it also allowed for taxes to be imposed to support public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality," he said.
After the event, Stoll told The Christian Post, "There's a misconception out there that having someone's religious faith inform their politics was like invented in the 70s or 80s by Jerry Falwell, but in fact it really goes way back."
"I think that 20th century American politicians…have come right back to this idea that Samuel Adams articulated in his piece on the rights of colonists. That freedom and that liberty is not something that can be given or taken away by government, but that it is God's gift."
Stoll noted that there were founders who were deistic, but that many founders, including influential ones, were devoutly religious.
"That (founders being deistic) may be true of some of the founders, but it certainly was not true of Samuel Adams and Samuel Adams was a very important founder," Stoll said.
"I think that's an important thing to keep in mind."