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The Master's College

Happy Independence Day: America's Founders...Christians or Deists?

By Bob Dickson

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Dr. Gregg Frazer, a history and political science professor at The Master’s College, has just published his book, The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders: Reason, Revelation, Revolution through the prestigious University Press of Kansas.

In it, Frazer answers a debate that has raged in this nation for more than 200 years: Were America’s Founding Fathers Christians or were they deists?

The answer, according to Frazer’s research, is neither.

“Both sides are wrong,” he said.

The evidence in Frazer’s book, mostly culled from the private writings of eight prominent political leaders most responsible for the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, is difficult to refute. The hardcover book was born out of Frazer’s doctoral dissertation and includes more than 3,000 citations in its 296 pages.

“People tell the truth in religion more likely in private correspondence than in public documents,” Frazer said. “… I used a lot of evidence from what they said they believed in order to construct or support this view that I have.”

Frazer, who began teaching at TMC in 1988, expects some reaction from both sides of the argument. When you challenge long-held assumptions about the likes of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington, that comes with the territory.

“I’ve already gotten some blowback,” Frazer said. “Surprisingly, a lot of people are willing to look at the evidence, though.”

The book is part of The University of Kansas Press’ esteemed American Political Thought series and marks the first time a TMC professor will be published by a university press. In a recent national poll of political theory professors, Kansas University Press ranked ninth behind heavy hitters such as Oxford, Harvard and Yale – mostly because of the series of political volumes that now includes Frazer’s book.

“To be published by [Kansas University Press] is really quite an honor,” Frazer said.

Dr. John Stead, who has been a professor of history at The Master’s College since 1970, its enthusiastic about the book.

“I plan to use it in my classes next semester,” he said.

The book is scheduled to land in bookstores in May. Copies are available for preorder at Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/The-Religious-Beliefs-Americas-Founders/dp/0700618457/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332772822&sr=8-1