In a meeting with Delaware Indian chiefs in 1779, George Washington commended them for their request that their youth be trained in American schools. He assured the chiefs that America would look upon them “as their own children” and then said,
You do well to wish to learn our arts and our ways of life and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.
Washington’s freedom in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with this Indian tribe was normal for the founding generation for such freedom was rooted in the original American vision. This original vision was brought here by the Jamestown settlers of Virginia, the Pilgrims and Puritans of New England, the Baptists of Rhode Island, the Quakers of Pennsylvania and other Christian reform groups who were drawn to this land with a proactive vision burning in their hearts.
The Original American Vision
Indeed, the original American vision was for a land of individual liberty and a place from which the Gospel would be spread to the ends of the earth. America’s Founders were not shy in expressing this vision for they believed, that in this world, real freedom could only be realized in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This link between freedom and the Gospel was expressed by America’s second president, John Adams, just two weeks before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. In a letter to his cousin, Zabdiel, a minister of the Gospel, Adams wrote, “Statesmen, my dear sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion [Christianity] and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles, upon which Freedom can securely stand” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 174).
Adams was not expressing anything new or novel for the idea of freedom rooted in the Gospel of Christ was a common American belief brought here by the very first European immigrants to this land. Consider the following quotes.
“From these very shores the Gospel shall go forth, not only to this New World, but to all the world.”
Rev. Robert Hunt, April 29, 1607, as he and the Jamestown settlers, who had just landed at Cape Henry, gathered in prayer around a large oak cross they had brought from England.
“Having undertaken for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith . . . a voyage to plant the first colony in northern Virginia.”
From the Mayflower Compact, the governing document of the Pilgrims who formulated it upon their arrival in the New World in November of 1620.
“Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the Liberties of the Gospel in purity and peace.”
Opening statement of the Articles of Confederation for ‘The United Colonies of New England,” dated May 29, 1643. This confederation of New England towns and colonies was formed for mutual security and to arbitrate land disputes among the growing population.
“Might it not greatly facilitate the introduction of pure religion among the heathen, if we could, by such a colony, show them a better sample of Christians than they commonly see.”
Benjamin Franklin in a 1756 letter to George Whitefield, the most famous preacher of the Great Awakening, in which Franklin proposed that they partner together in founding a Christian colony on the Ohio frontier.
“Pray that the peaceful and glorious reign of our Divine Redeemer may be known throughout the whole family of mankind.”
Samuel Adams, Founding Father and Governor of Massachusetts. This call to prayer was part of a proclamation for a Day of Prayer that he issued as Governor of MA in 1795.
“Pray that all nations may bow to the scepter of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and that the whole earth may be filled with his glory.”
John Hancock, Founding Father, President of the Continental Congress and Governor of Massachusetts. This statement was part of a call for prayer he issued while Governor.
“The policy of the bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift ought to be that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind.”
James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution and America’s fourth president, voicing his opposition in 1785 to a bill that he perceived would have the unintended consequence of hindering the spread of the Gospel.
“The philosophy of Jesus is the most sublime and benevolent code of morals ever offered man. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen.”
Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of Independence and America’s third president, who took money from the federal treasury to send missionaries to an American Indian tribe and to build them a chapel in which to worship.
 “Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy Son, Jesus Christ.”
From a public prayer prayed by George Washington, America first president.
No Real Liberty Without the Gospel
It is obvious from the above quotes that America’s Founders believed freedom and Christianity to be inextricably linked. They believed so strongly in the Gospel as the basis of human freedom that they unashamedly prayed and publicly expressed their desire to see it spread throughout the earth.
Recent presidents have sought to export American style democracy to other nations apart from the Gospel of Christ. Indeed, the entire Western world is seeking to secularize liberty and remove it from any association with faith.
America’s Founders would say that such efforts are futile since true liberty cannot be had apart from the Gospel of Christ. Washington made this plain in his Farewell Address where he warned the fledgling nation that two things must be guarded if they were to be a happy people—Christianity and morality, which he called “indispensable supports” for political prosperity (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 169).
Recovering the Truth About the First Amendment
The day after approving the First Amendment, which states, “Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion or hindering the free exercise thereof,” those same Founding Fathers issued a proclamation for a National Day of Prayer.
The First Amendment was merely their way of saying that America would never have an official, national church like the nations of Europe at that time. Instead of banning faith from the public square, as many moderns suppose, they created a free and open marketplace for religious ideas.
They were not concerned about false religion getting the upper hand in such an open setting for they believed in the power of the Gospel and were convinced that on an open and even playing field, truth would always prevail. They agreed with the Puritan, John Milton, who wrote,
Let Truth and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse in free and open encounter? She needs no policies, nor strategems, nor licensings to make her victorious . . . Give her but room.
By instituting the First Amendment, the Founders were rejecting the model begun by Constantine in which civil government sets forth and defends a certain church, religious expression or point of view. In their thinking, only those who do not have confidence in the message they proclaim would insist on such an alignment with the civil government.
The Founders believed in the inherent power of Christian truth, which is why Jefferson wrote,
Truth can stand by itself … If there be but one right religion and Christianity that one, we should wish to see the nine hundred and ninety-nine wandering sects gathered into the fold of truth. But against such a majority we cannot effect this by force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. To make way for these, free inquiry must be indulged; and how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it ourselves.
It is Time to Recover the Vision
It is time for this generation to rise up and reject the Lie of the Left that the First Amendment bans expressions of faith in the marketplace. It is time to realize with the Founders that true freedom and happiness can only be found in Jesus Christ. It is time to learn from the Founders that faith and freedom go together like hand and glove, and the loss of one inevitably leads to the loss of the other. It is time for this generation to recover the original American vision.

This article is derived from Eddie Hyatt’s book, Pilgrims and Patriots, available from Amazon and his website, www.eddiehyatt.com. At his website, you can also check out his vision for America and another Great Awakening.



The word “liberty” burned in the hearts of those who were part of America's founding generation. More than any other word it defined their hopes and aspirations. That is why we have the “Liberty Bell” and the “Statue of Liberty.” That is why Patrick Henry cried out, “Give me liberty or give me death.” It is why Abraham Lincoln, in his famous Gettysburg Address, described America as having been “conceived in liberty.”
This promise of American liberty has attracted to these shores masses of people from all over the world, and continues to do so. But why did it happen here? Why did it not happen in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or China? Was it a mere happenstance of fate that this liberty came forth in America at the time it did?
The truth is that American liberty was the purposeful outcome of America’s Founders. American liberty was created from a definitive worldview that provided the moral and intellectual underpinnings for such liberty. Without that moral and philosophical foundation, American liberty cannot long survive.
Psalms 11:3 asks, When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? The answer is that the righteous in American must rediscover the foundation of our liberty and restore that righteous foundation to our culture. Otherwise, we are in grave danger of losing the very liberty for which so many have sacrificed, fought and died.
Searching for the Source
The intellectual and moral underpinnings for American liberty did not come from the Enlightenment, as is commonly taught. Enlightenment ideology produced the bloody and chaotic French Revolution with over twenty thousand being executed because they were considered enemies of the new regime. Historian, Benjamin Hart, says, “The French Revolution is a grim example of how people behave when they are unchecked by a sense of religious obligation. (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 169).
Neither could Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism or Anglicanism provide the necessary ideology for such liberty. They were all caught in the Constantinian trap wherein church had been merged with the state and the church used the power of the state to enforce its doctrines and practices.
This use of force in matters of faith began with Constantine and one hundred years later was given theological justification by the great church father from North Africa, Augustine. The use of the sword in matters of faith thus became an accepted modus operandi for the church during the medieval period. And with the masses cut off from the Scriptures, there were only limited protests that were quickly crushed.
Martin Luther struck a blow for freedom of conscience and religious liberty when at his trial for heresy he boldly resisted demands that he retract his teachings, declaring that “it is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against the conscience.” He went on to say, “My conscience is bound in the word of God, and I cannot and will not recant anything” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 16).
Luther, however, after being condemned as a heretic, needed the protection of the powerful German Prince Frederick to keep from being arrested and executed for heresy. This dependence on the civil authority then led to Lutheranism becoming the official church of Germany. This meant that in Germany Lutheranism was upheld and imposed on the populace by the German princes.
In England, Anglicanism was upheld and imposed by the British monarchs. Even in John Calvin’s city-state of Geneva there was an unhealthy intertwining of the church and civil authority. Those who dissented from the “official” form of worship and doctrine in these countries, just like in Catholic countries, were harassed, persecuted and even put to death.
Identifying the Source
The intellectual and moral force for American liberty was provided by the most radical elements of the Protestant Reformation—the Anabaptists, Separatist Puritans, Quakers, and English Baptists. Hart says,
It was Protestants of the most radical stripe, most zealous in their religious convictions (those whom the America Civil Liberties Union would like to see outlawed from the public discourse) who were in fact the greatest proponents of religious liberty as codified in America’s governing charter 200 years later (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 66-67).
These groups were most passionate in their desire to recover and live out the Christianity of Jesus and the New Testament. With the invention of the printing press and the Bible now more accessible, they  discovered that no basis for the use of force was to be found in the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament. They, therefore, vehemently opposed the use of civil power to impose doctrine and modes of worship on the people.
These “Radical Reformers,” as George Williams, late Professor of Church History at Yale, called them, insisted that the state should have no role in matters of faith and individual conscience. No one, they insisted, should be forced to act against their sincerely held religious convictions.
They pointed out that this unbiblical use of force in matters of faith had begun with Constantine and his marriage of the church with the state. They insisted that this ungodly marriage had created a corrupt and false church that relied on the power of the state rather than the power of the gospel message for its existence and expansion.
This Radical Reformation began in Switzerland but soon spread throughout continental Europe where its proponents became known as "Anabaptists," a derogatory term used by their opponents, meaning “those who rebaptize.” These Anabaptists then influenced other groups such as the Separatist Puritans, Quakers and Baptists.
The Remarkable Influence
In his writings on the Radical Reformation, Williams emphasizes the influence these groups had on the thinking of Western civilization, particularly in the areas of individual freedom and religious liberty. He wrote,
The whole Western world, not only the direct descendants of the Continental Anabaptists, not alone even the larger Protestant community, but all who cherish Western institutions and freedoms, must acknowledge their indebtedness to the valor and the vision of the Anabaptists who glimpsed afresh the disparities between the church and the world, even when the latter construed itself as Christian (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 58-59).
America’s Founders, to one degree or another, were all impacted by the ideals of the Radical Reformers. It is clear from Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography that both his parents and grandparents, whom he calls “dissenting Protestants,” were part of this Radical Reformation. His father, who was  a devout Christian, fled to America to escape persecution from the national, state church in England.
Separatist Puritans settled New England, Baptists settled Rhode Island and Quakers settled Pennsylvania. All shared the radical ideas of individual liberty, especially in matters of faith, and that the role of the civil government was to protect everyone’s freedom without any show of favoritism.
Virginia was initially settled by Anglicans and Anglicanism was made the official church of Virginia. However, the radical ideas of liberty made great inroads into Virginia so that Thomas Jefferson would say that by the time of the American Revolution three-quarters of Virginia’s population were “dissenting Protestants" (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 56).
The Influence of John Locke
The Founders were also helped in this regard by the well-known Enlightenment philosopher, John Locke, whom they often quote. What many do not realize, or choose to ignore, is that Locke was born of Puritan stock and was profoundly influenced by Separatist Puritan ideals of individual liberty.
Locke, who was a devout Christian, argued for a government that allows a free and open marketplace of religious ideas. Christianity, being true, would always prevail in such a free and open marketplace, he insisted. He agreed with John Milton who wrote;
Let Truth and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse in free and open encounter? She needs no policies, nor strategems, nor licensings to make her victorious . . . Give her but room.
Locke insisted that if Christians forced their faith on others, they committed a great offense against Almighty God. Only an un-coerced religious commitment could be genuine and authentic. Religious toleration was, therefore, the best way for non-Christians to be won to Christ.
This radical sort of thinking about liberty, tolerance and the power of Christian truth was predominant in the thinking of the Founders. Jefferson’s statement on this matter shows the influence of both Locke and the Radical Reformers. He wrote,
Truth can stand by itself … If there be but one right religion and Christianity that one, we should wish to see the nine hundred and ninety-nine wandering sects gathered into the fold of truth. But against such a majority we cannot effect this by force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. To make way for these, free inquiry must be indulged; and how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it ourselves.
Seeing the First Amendment in Context
When, therefore, the Founders wrote the First Amendment they did so in light of the ideals of individual liberty that had their source in the “dissenting Protestants,” or "Radical Reformers," as they are also called. They were not banning Christain influence from government; they merely did not want Congress to ever establish a national, state-supported church like the nations of Europe. 

This ideal of religius liberty, as expressed in the First Amendment, instead of choking religious expression, removed all such hindrances. That the First Amendment has nothing to do with banning religious expression was demonstrated by the fact that the day after instituting the First Amendment those same Founders issued a proclamation for a national day of prayer. 
Yes, the First Amendment that declares, "Congress shall make not law concerning the establishment of religion nor hindering the free exercise thereof," comes directly from the "dissenting Protestants." This is why John Adams, America’s Second President, would declare, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 172-73).
George Washington’s Warning
In his Farewell Address after serving two terms as America’s first President, George Washington warned the young nation to guard the foundations of liberty that had been laid by the Founders. Interestingly, these “indispensable supports,” as he called them, are under attack on multiple fronts in our nation today.
When Washington and all the Founders use the word “religion” they are using it in a positive way to refer to Christianity. Notice that there is no hesitance on Washington’s part in laying out the vital role of Christian faith for America’s happiness and success. He said,
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion [Christianity] and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 169-70).
Washington says that religion [i.e., Christianity] and morality are indispensable supports for political prosperity, and he warns against the supposition that morality could be sustained without Christianity. In other words, he warns against any attempt to separate God from the state; that is, against trying to secularize the American political system.
Washington did not want a civil government dictating in matters of faith, but neither did he want a secularized government devoid of the positive and healing influences of the Christian faith. He knew the Christianity of the New Testament to be the source for the moral and intellectual underpinnings of American liberty.
Stand Fast in the Source of Our Liberty
The ideals of the Radical Reformers won the day. Today all Christian groups, Catholic and Protestant, have embraced the idea of individual freedom of conscience in matters of faith and worship. Both Catholic and Protestant now reject the use of force in matters of faith and believe the church should be completely free from the state.
This, however, is the area where Islam is incompatible with the American system for Islam is not just a religion, but also a political system with its own laws (Sharia), judiciary and system of enforcement. State and religion are merged in Islam, which is why individual and religious liberty are curtailed or nonexistent in Islamic nations.
In Galatians 5:1, Paul issued a warning to his converts in Galatia who were being seduced away from the liberty they had found in Christ. He exhorted, Stand fast in the liberty wherein Christ has made you free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Paul’s warning is very appropriate for contemporary America, for American liberty has its ultimate source in the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament. John Adams, America’s second president, understood this. In a letter to his cousin, composed two weeks before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, he wrote,
Statesmen, my dear sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles, upon which Freedom can securely stand (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 173).
What Can We Do?
The secularization of America and the ongoing attacks on everything Christian, if left unchecked, will lead to a complete loss of the liberty known by our parents and grandparents. The Founders understood this and left ample warnings.
What can we do? We, as followers of Christ, must be politely uncompromising in our faith. We must be salt and light to this generation. And we must pray for God to send another Great Awakening across this great land. 

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, Pilgrims and Patriots, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. To contact him about a speaking engagement, send an email to dreddiehyatt@gmail.com.



Bernie Sanders’ anti-Christian rant on the Senate floor highlighted and underlined how far the Left is removed from America’s founding. In case you haven’t heard, Sanders grilled Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for second in command at the Office of Management and Budget, over Vought’s Christian faith.
Sanders found a quote wherein Vought said, in effect, that Muslims do not know God because He can only be known through Jesus Christ. Sanders found this repulsive to his politically correct, multi-cultural secularist mindset.
After angrily interrogating Vought concerning his faith, Sanders declared, “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about."
Contrary to Sanders, Vought is exactly what this country is supposed to be about. Not a single American founder would have found Vought’s statement objectionable. The most nonreligious among them would defend Vought’s right to make such a statement.
Benjamin Franklin’s Desire for a Christian Society
Take, for example, Benjamin Franklin, whom we are told was a Deist who did not believe in the God of the Bible. Nonetheless, in 1756 Franklin wrote a letter to his friend, George Whitefield, and proposed that they found a new Christian colony on the Ohio frontier (Hyatt, Pilgrims andPatriots, 164-65).
It is significant that Franklin did not make such a proposal to Tom Paine, who was also a friend, or any other “liberal” individual. He made the proposal to Whitefield, the most famous preacher of the Great Awakening, who was totally committed to the Bible and to Jesus Christ as the only way to God and salvation.
Franklin presented this proposal to Whitefield because he (Franklin) was totally convinced that only Christian faith and values could provide the ethical and moral basis for a stable and prosperous society. He stated this on many occasions by both his words and actions.
When, for example, the well-known Deist, Thomas Paine, sent him a manuscript copy of a book he had written challenging the idea of a providential God and other aspects of orthodox Christianity. Franklin refused to print the book, and in very strong language, he urged Paine not even to allow anyone else to see it. He wrote,
I would advise you, therefore . . . to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion [Christianity], what would they be if without it (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 142).
The Puritan Christianity in which Franklin was reared, and which was revived in the Great Awakening, emphasized honesty, industriousness and responsible behavior. These were the characteristics Franklin wanted in the people who would populate the proposed colony. In his own words, he wanted an “industrious and religious [Christian]" people.
Franklin also had a missionary vision for this Christian colony. He suggested to Whitefield that such a colony would facilitate the spread of “pure religion” among the native people of that region. Since he is writing to Whitefield, it is obvious that the “pure religion” of which Franklin speaks, and wishes to propagate, is the fiery evangelical revivalism of Whitefield. 
Franklin’s Vision Fulfilled
Although time and circumstances did not allow the implementation of this vision, I suggest that Franklin’s vision of a Christian colony did not die but was fulfilled on a much larger scale. In 1776, twenty years after writing this letter to Whitefield, Franklin and fifty-five others signed the Declaration of Independence and brought forth a new nation based on Christian principles and values.
Eleven years later, at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Franklin, now an old man of 81, clearly revealed that his Deism was a thing of the past. He called the delegates to prayer and reminded them how they had had daily prayer in that room during the war. He quoted from the words of Jesus and went on to say, “Our prayers were heard and were graciously answered” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 143-44).
Franklin’s reason for calling the convention to prayer was that he believed in the prayer-answering God of the Bible. Addressing the convention president, George Washington, Franklin quoted Psalm 127:1, saying, “We have been assured sir in the sacred writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 144).
Franklin's Life a Testament Against the Views of the Liberal Left
Yes, Benjamin Franklin, America’s nonreligious founder, is a living testament to how far removed Bernie Sanders is from America’s founding. Franklin would abhor Sanders' anti-Christian rant  and have some choice words for him as he did for Tom Paine.
Although it is still debated whether Franklin ever became a born-again, evangelical Christian, there is no room for debate over the fact that he believed Christian principles and values absolutely necessary for a stable and prosperous nation. 
That is why Franklin had no problem with the words of one of the nation’s obvious “religious” founders, Patrick Henry. Henry, famous for his “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death” speech, declared, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 135).
Concluding Thought
It is time for Christians in America to come out of the closet and stand for truth and righteousness. It is the right thing to do! It is the American thing to do! 
As I document in my book, Pilgrims and Patriots, America was birthed out of a Great Spiritual Awakening that transformed the 13 colonies and impacted Franklin, and all the founders, to one degree or another. It is time for another such Awakening, for only then will the America of Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson and Lincoln survive the present onslaught of destructive ideologies and false religions. 

This article is derived from Eddie Hyatt's books, Pilgrims and Patriots and The Faith and Vision of Benjamin Franklin, both available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehhyatt.com.