cover image The Founders and the Bible

The Founders and the Bible

Carl J. Richard. Rowman and Littlefield, $42 (380p) ISBN 978-14422-5464-0

In a wide-ranging look at 30 influential statesmen involved in the creation of the United States, Richard (Greeks and Romans Bearing Gifts) delves into the intense religious thought of America's founding members through a collection of their journal entries, speeches, articles, and events, intended to squelch the notion that the nation was created on atheistic or deist principles. Through the haphazardly arranged chapters, he discusses the religious milieu of the time and offers a wide and deep range of the founders' religious observations and beliefs. Though they argued over many tenets of the Bible, "all of the founders embraced the biblical concept of an omniscient, omnipotent, caring God who not only created the universe but also intervened in it," Richard writes. In some of the most striking sections, commonly held beliefs about the founder's core deism are put to the test, as when Benjamin Franklin writes: "There can be no Reason to imagine he would make so glorious a Universe merely to abandon it." Richard's extensively researched book will be a welcome addition to current scholarship about the religious beginnings of the United States, but general readers will be deterred by the meandering structure and uneven pacing. (Apr.)