How Christian Were the Founders? God and the Constitution After the Civil War
An enduring point of controversy in church-state battles concerned the piety of the Founding Fathers and their vision of the public role of religion in their republic. In the decade after the Civil War, this issue came to the fore in the context of a drive to Christianize the Constitution. The campaign by the National Reform Association to include a reference to God and Jesus Christ in the preamble sparked an intense secularist backlash. A diverse set of secularists argued that such a reform would violate the intentions of the Founders. They also looked abroad, and particularly to Europe, for a lesson in the perils of writing Christianity into the founding document of the nation.