"All of the Founders Sali invokes were syncretic universalists who believed many or all world religions were valid ways to God."
Let us examine if this statement conforms to the evidence. Quoting the Founding Fathers on their religious beliefs MUST BE WHILE THEY FORMED THE GOVERNMENT. The beliefs after these men left office is irrelevant as it has no effect on the nation. This is definitely the situation with John Adams, as any secularist will be hard pressed to find any quotes by him affirming universalism before he left office. The nearest example of Adams portraying a universalist is in 1794:
"To him who believes in the Existence and Attributes physical and moral of a God, there can be no obscurity or perplexity in defining the Law of Nature to be his wise benign and all powerful Will, discovered by Reason."-- John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, March 19, 1794. Adams Papers (microfilm), reel 377, Library of Congress. Seen in James H. Hutson's, "The Founders on Religion," p. 132.
I have yet to find the access to this quote affirming its reliability, as it is not in the Adams papers, nor does it speak of universalism, but only that God's law can be found from man's conscience, it does not affirm that he believed reason is superior to revelation.
The writings from John Adams indicate he was a Christian Unitarian while helping to form the United States. John Adams believed the Bible was the Word of God, and ONLY the God of Israel is the Law of Nature:
My Religion you know is not exactly conformable to that of the greatest Part of the Christian World. It excludes superstition. But with all the superstition that attends it, I think the Christian the best that is or has been. I would join with those who wish ecclesiastical Tyranny abolished, and the frauds of the Priesthood detested: But in this Country We have little of this. If my feeble Testimony has done any good, rejoice and have my reward.
John Adams to Abigail Adams JAN 28,1799.
Adams believed Christianity the true religion, with superstition obviously the Roman Catholicism he despised. The wickedness of the Romish clergy throughout the centuries is well documented:
"Numberless have been the systems of iniquity The most refined, sublime, extensive, and astonishing constitution of policy that ever was conceived by the mind of man was framed by the Romish clergy for the aggrandizement of their own Order They even persuaded mankind to believe, faithfully and undoubtingly, that God Almighty had entrusted them with the keys of heaven, whose gates they might open and close at pleasure ... with authority to license all sorts of sins and Crimes ... or withholding the rain of heaven and the beams of the sun; with the management of earthquakes, pestilence, and famine; nay, with the mysterious, awful, incomprehensible power of creating out of bread and wine the flesh and blood of God himself.
All these opinions they were enabled to spread and rivet among the people by reducing their minds to a state of sordid ignorance and staring timidity, and by infusing into them a religious horror of letters and knowledge. Thus was human nature chained fast for ages in a cruel, shameful, and deplorable servitude....Of all the nonsense and delusion which had ever passed through the mind of man, none had ever been more extravagant than the notions of absolutions, indelible characters, uninterrupted successions, and the rest of those fantastical ideas, derived from the canon law, which had thrown such a glare of mystery, sanctity, reverence, and right reverend eminence and holiness around the idea of a priest as no mortal could deserve ... the ridiculous fancies of sanctified effluvia from episcopal fingers."
John Adams, "A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law," printed in the Boston Gazette, August 1765
Prior to his renewed relationship with Thomas Jefferson, he(along with Joseph Priestley) never doubted the miraculous, or that reason superceded revelation, but quite the contrary:
"Thus we are equally obliged to the Supream Being for the Information he has given us of our Duty, whether by the Constitution of our Minds and Bodies or by a supernatural Revelation. For an instance of the latter let us take original sin. Some say that Adams sin was enough to damn the whole human Race, without any actual Crimes committed by any of them. Now this Guiltis brought upon them not by their own rashness and Indiscretion, not by their own Wickedness and Vice, but by the Supream Being. This Guilt brought upon us is a real Injury and Misfortune because it renders us worse than not to be, and therefore making us guilty upon account of Adams Delegation, or Representing all of us, is not in the least diminishing the Injury and Injustice but only changing the mode of conveyance."
John Adams diary August 15, 1756.
The great and almighty Author of nature, who at first established those rules which regulate the World, can as easily Suspend those Laws whenever his providence sees sufficient reason for such suspension. This can be no objection, then, to the miracles of J [Jesus] C [Christ]. Altho' some very thoughtfull, and contemplative men among the heathen, attained a strong persuasion of the great Principles of Religion, yet the far greater number having little time for speculation, gradually sunk in to the grossest Opinions and the grossest Practices.
John Adams diary March 2, 1756
Adams also believed in eternal judgment while forming the nation:
[S]uch compliances [compromises]...of my honor, my conscience, my friends, my country, my God, as the Scriptures inform us must be punished with nothing less than hell-fire, eternal torment; and this is so unequal a price to pay for the honors and emoluments [profits from government]...The duration of future punishment terrifies me. If I could but deceive myself so far as to think eternity a moment only, I could comply and be promoted."
John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1850), Vol II, p. 294, diary entry for February 9, 1772.
His mentor in Unitarianism, Joseph Priestley believed the same:
"All of these things being considered, it appears to me that no facts in the whole compass of history, are so well authenticated as those of the miracles, the death, and the resurrection of Christ, and also what is related of the Apostles in the book of Acts.
Joseph Priestley, Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, Part Two (Birmingham, 1787)
Adams, along with Priestley, only rejected the person of Jesus Christ as God, but in no way was Adams a rationalist or universalist while serving the United States.
I challenge any secularist to find any of John Adams' writings affirming universalism while he was in office! John Adams became a universalist while unwisely rekindling his relationship with the infidel Thomas Jefferson.
Neither was James Madison a universalist while he helped form this nation:
"To say that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself, for every page of it disavows a dependence on the powers of this world: it is a contradiction to fact; for it is known that this Religion both existed and flourished, not only without the support of human laws, but in spite of every opposition from them, and not only during the period of miraculous aid, but long after it had been left to its own evidence and the ordinary care of Providence.
Memorial and Remonstrance 1785
This miraculous aid is the aid God provided to the early church, as recorded in the Book of Acts. Paul and Peter raising people from the dead, Peter and John healing a lame man, Peter striking dead Ananias and Sapphira with his words, sudden earthquakes, and many other supernatural events like prison locks automatically opening to free the Apostle Paul.
Madison, likewise, referred to God as “The Great Spirit” when speaking to unconverted Indians.>>
Madison made the statement about "The Great Spirit" in 1812, after he helped form the nation, showing it is irrelevant to the discussion, as well as showing again what happens to a Christian man who allow an infidel like Thomas Jefferson to influence their beliefs.
"It’s not Christianity, or even “Judeo-Christianity” that is America’s implicit public religion. Rather America’s Founding political theology is theistic rationalism which prefers to speak of God in generic philosophical terms and encompasses religions outside of the “Judeo-Christian” tradition like Islam, Hinduism, Native American and pagan Greco-Roman spirituality."
This statement is so false, and contrary to established fact, it's amazing some secularists continue to say it.
Constitution of the State of North Carolina (1776), stated: There shall be no establishment of any one religious church or denomination in this State in preference to any other. Article XXXII That no person who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State. (until 1876)
Constitution of the State of Maryland (August 14, 1776), stated: Article XXXV That no other test or qualification ought to be required, on admission to any office of trust or profit, than such oath of support and fidelity to this State and such oath of office, as shall be directed by this Convention, or the Legislature of this State, and a declaration of a belief in the Christian religion.” That, as it is the duty of every man to worship God is such a manner as he thinks most acceptable to him; all persons professing the Christian religion, are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore no person ought by any law to be molested… on account of his religious practice; unless, under the color [pretense] of religion, any man shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality… yet the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax, for the support of the Christian religion. (until 1851) [pp.420-421]
Constitution of the State of New Hampshire (1784,1792), required senators and representatives to be of the: Protestant religion. (in force until 1877)The Constitution stipulated: Article I, Section VI. And every denomination of Christians demeaning themselves quietly, and as good citizens of the state, shall be equally under the protection of the laws. And no subordination of any one sect of denomination to another, shall ever be established by law. [p.469]Constitution of the State of Vermont (1786), stated: Frame of Government, Section 9. And each member [of the Legislature], before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz: “I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scripture of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration, and own and profess the [Christian] religion. And no further or other religious test shall ever, hereafter, be required of any civil officer or magistrate in this State.” [p.623]
The Constitution of the State of Delaware (until 1792) stated: Article XXII Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust… shall… make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit:“I, _______, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore; I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.” [p.203]
It is obvious what the religion of the framers was, and the evidence of this fact is conclusive.
I do believe the evidence suggests Washington and Franklin were universalists. This leaves two men to support their revisionist dogma. Secularists, please provide some evidence that Thomas Jefferson was a universalist before he left office. Calling John Adams, and James Madison universalists, is neglecting the overwhelming evidence. More of the actual key founders: Rufus King, Samuel Adams, John Jay, John Quincy Adams, George Mason, Elias Boudinot, and Roger Sherman were born again Christians.