Protestant Forefathers

Hello brothers and sisters in Christ. I was asked recently by an evangelical Christian why the vast majority of our forefathers, and so many of our country’s leaders, have been Protestant in their beliefs ,and why he should consider the validity of Catholicism vis-à-vis the United States of America. It was an interesting challenge to which I could only respond something like “perhaps God allowed Protestant men (and women) to have such an important role in creating our country, knowing in His infinite wisdom that, ultimately ,Christian unity via Catholicism would prevail.” He also correctly pointed out that some of our country’s brightest minds (Jefferson, Lincoln, Adams) were Protestant (at best) – thereby again challenging the credibility of Catholicism. Any better responses out there I can use? Many thanks …

How can we consider the validity of Christianity for Western Civilization, seeing as it was built on the foundations of Greek and Roman thought?

A fine retort … thanks Prayer Warrior!

I think it’s a false premise to link the “validity” of Catholicism to the United States, or any country for that matter. It’s a matter of history that as a series of British colonies, the leadership of the colonies and the early U.S. came from the wealthy landowners and colonial aristocracy, whose roots were Church of England largely, Catholics having no power, influence, or social role, for the most part, in the mother country. Perhaps it would be valuable to ponder the fact that the rate of church attendance among Catholics - while sadly declining - is still much higher in the “Protestant” U.S. than in the (nominally) and historically Catholic countries of Europe, such as France, Spain, and Italy.

As far as Jefferson, from what I know, he publicly disavowed belief in most of Scripture, assembling his “personal Bible,” basically a cut-and-paste collection of personal sayings that he liked. Lincoln was never baptized into any denomination. Getting elected to office is hardly a function of the superiority of a set of religious beliefs or intellectual superiority – especially today.

But isn’t there some sense that this “City on a Hill” has been anointed by God? And if so, shouldn’t we have seen more of a Catholic influence?

Nationalism is not a good philosophy. It is not a Catholic Philosophy. We are not a city on a hill, and we are not anointed by God. America has done some great things for the world. So have a lot of other nations. It has also done a lot of bad and unfortunate things. Catholicism was small in early america, although there were influential Catholics and a Catholic signer of the declaration of independence. Large scale arrival of Catholic immigrants in the 1800’s largely contributed to the rise of america, despite the strong Anti-Catholic sentiments of many.

The US was founded by Protestants and there’s always been an anti-Catholic sentiment. Stands to reason why Catholics have not been voted into the highest ranking political officials for the most part. And those who have been would only be Catholic in name only. The fear of Kennedy becoming president was that “Rome” or the Pope would be ruling the US.

Trying to draw a correlation between the validity of Catholicism and politics is silly! I think as another person mentioned many of these leaders/ politicians weren’t exactly Christian in general. So one can’t say they were/ are “Protestant” and therefore Catholicism is invalid.

I think if a person were to attempt to make such a statement, they haven’t really studied history of the US. Ask this person to prove these leaders were devout Protestant Christans.

The founding fathers (or those that weren’t freemasons or similar) were mostly puritans, or belonged to the forerunners of what we would todfay call the free churches. If they had adopted the religion of the British ruling class they would mostly be Anglicans or Episcopolans.

Furthermore, prior to immigration from Ireland, which began in the 19th Century, the Catholic Church in England was predominantly a matter of the upper classes. Percentage wise, there were more Catholics among the aristocracy (and I’m including both the higher aristocracy and the landed classes) than among other sectors of the population.

Therefore your theory doesn’t fully convince me.

The founding fathers were not puritans by any stretch of the imagination. Some of them, such as Benjamin Franklin, had Puritan parents. But very few if any founding fathers could be considered puritans.

The founders of this country happened to be Protestant. That’s just how it worked out. If France won the French & Indian War, the founders of this country would have been Catholic. I certainly don’t think God favors Protestants over Catholics.

He also correctly pointed out that some of our country’s brightest minds (Jefferson, Lincoln, Adams) were Protestant (at best) – thereby again challenging the credibility of Catholicism. Any better responses out there I can use? Many thanks …

John Kennedy - steered us through the Cuban Missile Crisis. The survival of the HUMAN RACE hung in the ballance. Lincoln was just responsible for the survival of the country. PERHAPS GOD CHOSE A CATHOLIC FOR THE MORE IMPORTANT JOB??? Isn’t preventing a nuclear armageddon a bigger deal than defeating the Confederacy?

You can also tell him that SIX of the nine sitting members of the US Supreme Court are Catholic.

Samuel Morse - (inventor of Morse Code and the American single-wire telegraph) was an American Catholic.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton - He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and Confederation Congress and later as first United States Senator for Maryland. He was the only Catholic and the longest-lived (and last surviving) signatory of the Declaration of Independence, dying at the age of 95. Did Carroll outlive his peers because God favors Catholics?

By the way… how does your Evangelical friend feel about blacks, Jews, and Asians? None of them were “founding fathers” and haven’t contributed as much as white anglo saxon Protestants.

:shrug:

This argument is exceedingly jingoistic. God didn’t found these United States as a New Jerusalem or as a city on a hill or as the new Israel. He founded the Church. To argue that whoever founded America must have been doctrinally correct in regards to religion is odd in the utmost.

This argument is exceedingly jingoistic. God didn’t found these United States as a New Jerusalem or as a city on a hill or as the new Israel. He founded the Church. To argue that whoever founded America must have been doctrinally correct in regards to religion is odd in the utmost. Most of the founders had slaves does that make slavery okay? Does that mean Africans are somehow subhuman?

Objection accepted. I oversimplified there.

But I still stand by the rest of my argument.

For many peoples (Indians, Blacks, Irish, Italians) this country hasn’t been the greatest experience. Given the modern corporate greed and military totalitarism of America today there are many other people who don’t find her to be so wonderful. So turn it around on them that it is not surprising that Protestants are the fathers of 200 years of genocide, slavery, discrimination, oppression, greed, and world domination. (Not saying that I wholly agree with this, but it ought to knock them back on their heels a little).

Very Very true.

Hello brothers and sisters in Christ. I was asked recently by an evangelical Christian why the vast majority of our forefathers, and so many of our country’s leaders, have been Protestant in their beliefs ,and why he should consider the validity of Catholicism vis-à-vis the United States of America.

They were Protestant because of the course of events of human history. This argument makes the rash assumption that simply because our nation’s forefather’s were predominantly Protestant that Catholicism is “invalid” and unwelcome in America. Why does that conclusion have to follow? Its faulty logic at best because it presents an exclusive conclusion (Protestants founded this country, therefore it must be the case that Catholicism in America is not important) to a question with a variety of possible answers. On top of this, it is remarkably naive to say that the religious affiliation of a nation’s founders somehow gives that particular religion any real leverage over other religions. Would it be prudent to say that all people in Nazi-era Germany who didn’t approve of Hitler’s ideologies would be considered somehow invalid?

He also correctly pointed out that some of our country’s brightest minds (Jefferson, Lincoln, Adams) were Protestant (at best) – thereby again challenging the credibility of Catholicism. Any better responses out there I can use? Many thanks …

Once again, this doesn’t say a thing about the credibility of Catholicism. Simply providing the names of several American Protestant thinkers may bolster the claim that Protestants were essential in the formation of America - but in no way does this detract from Catholic credibility.

From a historical position it has to be noted that Catholics were widely persecuted in British America from the earliest times - not only leading up to and during the Revolution - but well into the 20th century and beyond. This active persecution of Catholics (by burning down Church’s, legislating against Catholics serving in political office, etc.) made it nearly impossible for Catholic’s to even have a chance at significantly contributing to the founding of America. It was not until the massive influx of Irish, Italians, and other European Catholics that the Church had a substantial presence in America - and even then it had to contend with the bigotry of the Nativist movement.

So, a cut and dry response to your Protestant friend would be to tell him the truth: that Catholics from colonial times until the late 20th century were actively persecuted, treated as less than human by their Protestant brothers and sisters - and therefore kept out of public office by the Protestant majority. Ask him why he boasts about his ancestors’ unChristian treatment of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

It doesn’t work that way. It’s not so simple. There are Protestants who have done terrible things, and Protestants who have done wonderful things. There are Catholics who have done wonderful things, and Catholics who have done terrible things. There are terrible people who have been both Catholic and others who have been Protestant. Just as there are wonderful people who have been Catholic, and wonderful people who have been protestant. There have been Catholics who have accomplished remarkable things, and there have been Protestants who have accomplished wonderful things. There are countless examples of this everywhere throughout history. It doesn’t make sense to focus on one tiny aspect of world history (the early US) and say that it is the measuring stick to be used in the debate between Catholicism and Protestantism. It’s not a logical way to draw an ultimate comparison.

I appreciate all of your responses and the collective wisdom you’ve brought to the discussion. I’m armed and ready for battle.:thumbsup:

Apparently some Protestants believe that the USA is the “City on a Hill”, replacing the Christian Church.

In any event, why not take a look at the book, “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization”. That is bigger than just the USA. Link below.

amazon.com/Catholic-Church-Built-Western-Civilization/dp/1596983280

Of course our forefathers were Protestant, mostly Church of England. Catholics couldn’t even vote in some colonies.

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