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Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers
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Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  192 ratings  ·  25 reviews
In her lively refutation of modern claims about America's religious origins, Brooke Allen looks back at the late eighteenth century and shows decisively that the United States was founded not on Christian principles at all but on Enlightenment ideas. Moral Minority presents a powerful case that the unique legal framework the Founding Fathers created was designed according ...more
Hardcover, 235 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Ivan R. Dee Publisher (first published 2006)
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The Founding Fathers were broad-minded intelluctuals, clear products of the international Enlightenment. They tended to see religious zeal as an irrational, divisive, and even atavistic passion that constituted a threat to human society. They questioned each and every received idea they had been taught. They were deeply read in political philosophy , interested in science, and well versed in theological matters. They consistently challenged the religious dogma they heard from the pulpit. The eig ...more
Michael Miller
The first six chapters of Brooke Allen's Moral Minority examine the writings and speeches of six of the founding fathers: Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton. She helps bring some much needed perspective to their views on Christianity and on religious freedom. At times she mounts her soapbox to decry the activities of the religious right today, but for the most part she stays on task.

The final chapter, which purports to examine the world that produced the founders and
I initially bought this book because I saw a praise blurb on the back from Darryl Hart, author of the book A Secular Faith and promoter of Two Kingdom theology. I thought I would see what he was reading and praising. Moral Minority is a well written book that accomplishes what it sets out to do. Brooke Allen establishes through copious and sometimes very lengthy quotes, that many of our Founding Fathers were very far from orthodox Christianity and had no intention of establishing a "Christian na ...more
Highly recommend this book. It really responds to the common assertion that the founders were Christians and this is a Christian nation. The answer the book gives is "yes.... but." Most of the founding fathers were deists, so their idea of Christianity was very different than many of the fundamentalist sects we see today. The book really explains the importance of the separation of church and state to the founding fathers. After reading it, I had a much greater appreciation of the amazing ideali ...more
William Schram
I enjoyed this book a great deal. I was unaware of the advance of fundamentalism on our rights and the very frame of our Constitution.

This book discusses the religious nature of six of the founding fathers of the United States of America: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. All of it is done through quoting their private letters and papers, the laws they helped to enact, and ideas they tried to spread. Some of the Founding Fat
I didn't finish the book. Not because it wasn't interesting. It's just one of those books that those who need to read won't read it, or they'll read it and find a way to rationalize away it's points.

If you find yourself in frequent arguments with those who think the founding fathers were perfect Christians then this book will help you back up your points on what kind of men they really were.

But I don't like having such arguments.
Dec 11, 2007 Keith added it
The founding fathers were quite clear about separation of church and state; they advocated tolerance of different beliefs and religions, but did not adopt any national religion. All grew up in a religious context, but many were secularists and "deists" and believed that the great philosophers of history, the 17th and 18th centuries provided the basis for the American ethics and political system with its observance of "rights".
Very nicely explains, with extensive quotes that America was not founded as Christian country and no, many of the founding fathers were not even christians,or had very very relaxed beliefs about what Christianity is.

D.L. Morrese
I personally found nothing new or revealing in this short summary of the philosophical foundations of the United States or of the religious sentiments of the founding fathers. But given the efforts of a small but vocal movement to rewrite history to make America an exclusively “Christian” nation, it is a timely reminder of the vision people like Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison had for this country. Ms. Allen points out quite accurately and succinctly that these great ...more
Allen's premise is that some of the founding fathers (particularly Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton) were not necessarily Christian. And that the Constitution was not based on Christian principles but on Enlightenment philosophy. And that they definitely intended there to be a "wall of separation" between church and state. Allen tells us of these founding fathers' (as well as some of their religious colleagues) dislike of the religious wars and persecution in England and Europe ...more
Look, I'm quite glad to have read it. I leaned lots. It was, however, a bit of a slog. It took me 2 separate efforts, and untold library renewals. Hard to keep the dramatic tension alive, really, with the layout of chapter per founding father.
A very interesting book and a must read for anyone who really cares about what the founding fathers thought about church and state. If one considers John Adams, Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton founding fathers this book provides information from their papers and personal letters which should direct one in the search for original intent. The chapter on Hamilton is extremely enlightening and actually interpretive of current (21st century) hap ...more
Nathan Langford
Intelligent, quick and, apparently, well researched work on the background of six of the principle founding fathers on the narrow issue of their religious beliefs, development how religion (specifically 'Christianity) was kept out of the Constitution. Each chapter reads like a magazine article (with good reason as the author writes for magazines) and this makes it a quick read. But do not think that being a 'quick read' means an 'easy read'. To be 'slowly chewed and digested'.

Great counter-argum
MORAL MINORITY is a gratify broadside to the persistent myth that the United States was founded as — and needs to return to being — a faith-based nation. Using copious examples of their own writings, the author makes a watertight case for the fact that the Founders were at best Deists (or, in the case of Jefferson and Madison, outright atheists), and that any suggestion that they would have associated themselves with modern, evangelical religion, is absurd. The Founders were indeed inspired men, ...more
Joshua Berg
Great information especially to counter the lies about this being a "Christian Nation" or that there is no separation of church and state. This book uses the founding fathers' own writings to clearly show they intended a complete separation of church and state.

The reason I gave it only three stars is because it was difficult to read. It used so much of the founding fathers' own words - which is a good and important thing because it shows what they really thought in contrast to the spin that is o
This book delves into the philospohy and religious views of six of the "iconic" founders of our nation: Ben Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. The author effectivly makes the case of these men (with the occasional exception of Hamilton) as quintessential enlightenment figures in their views on spritual matters, eschewing narrow-minded dogmatism and religious fervor for free and open inquiry.

Jim Razinha
Wonderful single source debunking of the myth of the US government being founded on Christian principles. Nothing could be further from the truth as Ms. Allen illustrates. Her case is laid out by citing the writings and biographies of the six most visible of the Founders: Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton. Should be required reading for Beck, O'Reilly, the Tea Party Darlings and anyone else spouting that nonsense.
David Morris
I couldn't even finish this book. The first several chapters basically repeat over and over again that the various founding fathers were not Christians, or if they were, were still skeptical of religion's place in government. The book seems little more than an excuse to regurgitate quotes from documents. While I agree with the sentiments of the author this book would've been much better as a short editorial in a magazine.
Sep 02, 2010 Thomas.harrop is currently reading it
A great read. This book tells about the actual beliefs of the founding fathers. It debunks all the made up history about the founding of America as a Christian nation. These men knew how dangerous religion could be and did everything they could to keep the clergy from running the country.
I really enjoyed this. Interesting insights into the personalities of our founding fathers, and I kept wanting to write down quotes. Anyone who thinks everyone was religious back in the old days should read this. Unfortunately the people who most need to read this book will not.
Excellent examination of the religious background of the late 18th century and the beliefs over several of our most well-known founders: Franklin, Washingon, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton. Well-cited, good listing for further reading.
Great report on the personal religious views of the founding fathers and why they explicitly made church and state separate.
get your religion out of my government! the founding fathers said!
Really good coverage of its rather important subject.
Mar 23, 2010 Keith added it
Allen gives an excellent review of each of the Founding Father's beliefs or lack thereof, making a convincing argument that American wasn't founded as a Christian nation, and that separation of church and state was their original intention. Good read for believer and non believer alike, as Allen stresses that separation is best for the freedom of both.
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Brooke Allen's critical writings appear frequently in the New York Times Book Review, the Atlantic Monthly, The New Criterion, The Hudson Review, and The Nation. Her Twentieth-Century Attitudes was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her most recent book is Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers."
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“[The Founding Fathers] were not advocates for a monolithic notion of "God and Country," as promoters of a Christian America would now have us believe. They were precisely the opposite: the very prototypes, in fact, of the East Coast intellectuals we are always being warned against by today's religious right.” 2 likes
“George Washington rewrote the presidential addresses crafted for him by others so as to omit all references to Jesus Christ.” 0 likes
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