Jon Meacham’s American Gospel, a Fathers Day gift, describes how our Founders created a nation where religion wouldn’t be singled out for special help or particular harm. He wrote:
The great good news about America … is that religion shapes the life of the nation without strangling it. Belief in God is central to the country’s experience, yet for the broad center, faith is a matter of choice, not coercion, and the legacy of the Founding is that the sensible center holds.
Our Founders learned from the religious wars and crusades of Europe and from periods of religious intolerance in the colonies. Their goal was to establish a country based on principles that were greater than the human imagination and that could not be taken away by human power.
So, they turned to the faith that was most familiar, Christianity, enriched by their awareness of other faiths and secular philosophies. Meacham wrote:
The balance between the promise of the Declaration of Independence, with its evocation of divine origins and destiny, and the practicalities of the Constitution, with its checks on extremism, remains perhaps the most brilliant American success.