A Stroke of Genius? Religion, the Founding Fathers and the Creation of the American Polity

Herman T. Salton


The place of religion in the United States has been hotly contested ever since the establishment of the American
polity. This article revisits the origins of national identity in that country and argues that while religion played a
crucial role in the formation of American consciousness, the wisdom of the US Founding Fathers lies in their
decision to separate the public and private spheres—and to keep Church and State firmly divided. This was not,
it should be noted, because they regarded the State to be more important than the Church, but rather because they
thought that government was unworthy of interfering with religious faith and private conscience.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/par.v2n1p67


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