Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction” as Want to Read:
Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  113 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Fea offers an even-handed primer on whether America was founded to be a Christian nation, as many evangelicals assert, or a secular state, as others contend. He approaches the title's question from a historical perspective, helping readers see past the emotional rhetoric of today to the recorded facts of our past. Readers on both sides of the issues will appreciate that th ...more
Paperback, 287 pages
Published November 4th 2010 by Westminster John Knox Press
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

A History of Christianity by Diarmaid MacCullochA History of Christianity in the United States and Canada by Mark A. NollFox's Book of Martyrs by John FoxeThe Story of Christianity by Justo L. GonzálezThe Triumph of Christianity by Rodney Stark
History of Christianity
82nd out of 108 books — 18 voters
Light before dusk; a Russian Catholic in France, 1923-1941 by Helene IswolskyForward Together by William J Barber IITheology from the Trenches by Roger J GenchJesus Goes to Washington by Douglas J MillerMoral Man and Immoral Society by Reinhold Niebuhr
Faith and Public Life
30th out of 53 books — 2 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 269)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
JR Smith
This book presents a really interesting and balanced look at early American history. The author takes the question about whether America is a Christian nation and parses it out into smaller questions. First, what do you mean by America -- are you referring to the Puritan colonial period, the Revolutionary War period, the early national period? "America" meant something different in all three of those times, and the answer to the book's title question would change accordingly. And even more impor ...more
I have been intrigued by the questionable extent of America's Christian heritage for a few years now. I took a Christian America as a given as a young adult; I was probably almost "brainwashed" with the idea in the culture in which I grew up. And then I worked for a Christian publisher in its history department, which approached the founding of America with a Christian viewpoint. It was during those years when I first wondered if Christians could condone the rebellious and violent acts that were ...more
Lis Carey
Whether or not America was founded as a "Christian nation" is a touchy political topic right now, and figures in other touchy political topics as well. John Fea gives us a very thorough and thoughtful discussion of the matter, and arrives at the conclusion most historians not involved in the political world would give: It's Complicated.

In the first part of the book, Fea looks at the substantial body of evidence, going back to the early 19th century, that the idea of America as a Christian nation
David Santos
Boy, talk about a history lesson. I learned more about Americas history in the past few hours than I did in those 12 years in school! This is a great book if you want to learn about the history of Christianity in the US of A. However, I wasn't looking for a history lesson, I was looking for the answer to the question "Was America Founded as a Christian nation?" The author near the end (in the conclusion) says that its not an answer that can be given a yes or a no. Fine, I'll answer it. Answer is ...more
This book tackles a debate that consistently goes on in our country. What debate? The title makes it obvious - was America founded as a Christian nation? If you listen to some evangelical Christians, especially those who are followers of David Barton, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Likewise, those on the other side respond with an equally unequivocal no.

This reveals part of the problem and challenge - this historical debate plays out in contemporary politics. What happened then is used to pi
Bill Main
I have set out to study the Constitution and its period especially in mind of currently and past amendment discussions. Upon doing so, I found that this particular topic needed clarification. I read this book at the same time as "Faiths of Our Founders" by David Holmes. By reading them both I hoped to get an idea of both sides of the topic. I got so much more. I had to put that particular study aside and read again "Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity" by Paul Barnett. This along with the h ...more
Andrew Wise
Accessible introduction to the issues involved in answering the title question. This is the first book I would recommend to someone who is interested in exploring the influences of Christianity on America's founding.
Scott Tsao
As a student of history and a follower of Jesus Christ, I feel very blessed to come across this book as my first read in American history. The author took a 3-prong approach to answer this question: "Was America founded as a Christian nation?"

Part one presents a historical survey of the idea that the US is a "Christian nation" in 4 stages:
1) Evangelical America, 1789-1865
2) Evangelicals, Liberals, and Christian America, 1865-1925
3) Christian America in a Modern Age, 1925-1980
4) History for the F
Robert D. Cornwall
This is one of those books that everyone really does need to read. John Fea has written a very accessible account of the role religion played in the founding of the nation. He makes clear that founding isn't the same thing as planting. Thus, we need to have a good discussion about when the nation began -- and that isn't something we're all in agreement upon.

John's book takes a middle road between those who say that American was founded as a Christian nation (ala David Barton)and try to envision
Al Gritten
This book was a very even handed look at both sides of this question. It is very well documented with both source documents and related contextual information. The author does not attempt to answer the question. In fact, Fea suggests that the problem with this question is the question itself. He suggests that many who argue either side of the question are seeking to establish an agenda that requires a simple answer. The answers to the question are very complex. Fea does an outstanding job of res ...more
Jeff Culver
Fea's book is essential for someone hoping to wade through the loaded question of America's Christian heritage. I expected a geneology that would reveal the term's fairly recent emergence, but interestingly, Fea chronicles how the idea of America as a Christian nation has been put to diverse and conflicting use for the last 2-300 years. Most strikingly, Fea brings to light how such rhetoric was used for oppression, particularly when "Christian nation" really meant, "Protestant" nation. His prefa ...more
Aug 06, 2011 Keith added it
An excellent critique of the history of Christianity in America and the 'faith' of its founders. Fea gives a very balanced history which shows how Christian 'faith' indeed had a major influence in the original colonies and lives of the founders, while at the same time putting an end to the myths that the founders were "Christian" in the way many would like to believe.

Both critics and advocates of a "Christian America" will be more adequately informed on the real history of the country and its f
Kerry Richardson
Very informative.
The short answer to the title question: no.

The long answer to the title question: no, not really.

The book centers on various attempts throughout American history to ascribe religious meaning to the Constitution and the machinations of the states to found their constitutions and laws on biblical principles. As time has demonstrated, though, those laws are eventually struck down as being unconstitutional because--wait for it--America is not a Christian nation.

A little dry at times, like history it
Tom Mackie
A tough look at the founders and their individual faiths. It became more clear that the leadership of the Revolution was politically Christian not orthodox. Christianity was valuable as a means to grow a healthy republic not as a non-political faith in Christ. Fea demonstrates the exaggerated position used by the political right to claim Christian origins of America for partisan goals. This is part of a series of works that have been recently published on this theme.
AWESOME book! I know Dr. Fea and can attest to his historical integrity. This is a fantastic book for anyone who is interesting in American religious history. If you've ever heard friends or family proclaim the United States to be a "Christian Nation" but have wondered if that was true or just exactly what that meant, this is the book for you.
This is an excellent discussion of the nature and purposes of history for the non-historian like myself, disguised as a series of short essays on the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers, and the framing of the Constitution. By the way, the answer to his title question is, unsurprisingly, both 'Yes' and 'No'.
Jon D
A solid and judicious work, but somewhat oddly organized, concluding with a set of chapters describing in fairly broad terms the religious beliefs of several of the leading political figures of the Constitutional period but not really proceeding from the preceding discussion. Informative, though...
Moses Operandi
I didn't finish this book, and it hopefully wasn't because I'm a lazy bum.

The author's writing style was evenhanded in the extreme. This is generally seen as a good thing, but I like an author to lead me to a conclusion, whether I agree with it or not, so that I can feel like I'm getting somewhere.
Timothy Maples
An excellent balanced view of the topic. Mr. Fea avoids the errors of the far-right "America is the new Israel" crowd while not succumbing to the securalist "All the founders were atheists or Deists" meme. Highly recommended.
chris tierney
A thorough, fair, highly readable introduction to the historical facts behind the debate of the title. This should be required reading for every politically engaged US citizen.
Luke Stoltzfoos
Luke Stoltzfoos is currently reading it
Jun 01, 2015
Michele marked it as to-read
May 26, 2015
Benjamin marked it as to-read
May 21, 2015
Alan   Mauldin
Alan Mauldin marked it as to-read
May 08, 2015
Ash marked it as to-read
Apr 30, 2015
Thomas marked it as to-read
Apr 13, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America
  • The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere
  • Fundamentalism and American Culture
  • America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln
  • The Faiths of the Founding Fathers
  • George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival - Volume I
  • The Christian World: A Global History (Modern Library Chronicles)
  • The Christological Controversy
  • Fasting: The Ancient Practices
  • The Political Writings of St. Augustine
  • The Body & Society: Men, Women & Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity
  • Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses
  • The American Bible
  • L'islam Et Le Réveil Arabe
  • The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion
  • The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America
  • Allah: A Christian Response
  • The Irony of American History
John Fea (PhD, State University of New York at Stony Brook) is associate professor of American history and chair of the history department at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? and writes a popular daily blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Home.
More about John Fea...
Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian's Vocation The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America New Jersey: A History of the Garden State

Share This Book

“Writing in 1855, church historian Philip Schaff quoted an Austrian writer who observed, “The United States are by far the most religious and Christian country in the world . . . because religion is there most free.” 0 likes
More quotes…