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Founding SinsHow a Group of Antislavery Radicals Fought to Put Christ into the Constitution$
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Joseph S. Moore

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190269241

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190269241.001.0001

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Confronting the Godless Government

Confronting the Godless Government

(p.63) 3 Confronting the Godless Government
Founding Sins

Joseph S. Moore

Oxford University Press

Covenanters reviled Founding Fathers such as Washington and Jefferson, whereas Americans were starting to revere them. Slightly more effective were causes focused on creating a Christian people. In the Early Republic, Covenanters joined other religious Americans in efforts to sanctify culture, including converting nonbelievers, warring with Britain, and supporting Sabbatarianism. Covenanters still failed to convince fellow moralists that the people’s fallen ethics flowed from defects in the Constitution. The Covenanter message was not built for success in the patriotic era of the early nineteenth century. Their limited successes and overwhelming failures caused new generations of Covenanters to seek out ways to make their religion relevant in a hostile climate. More important, Covenanters served as an anchor on the emerging rhetoric for Christian nationalism of figures such as Lyman Beecher and Ezra Stiles Ely. Suspicion of Covenanter-styled intolerance tainted calls for a Christian America and a Christian party in American politics.

Keywords:   Constitution, Establishmentarianism, Founding Fathers, revival, Sabbatarianism, separation of church and state

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