Independence Day commemorates the ratification of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The Declaration is a legal brief, making a case that “these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.”
The Declaration also makes theological claims, however. It begins with reference to “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle [the colonists].” It ends with the signers appealing to “the Supreme Judge of the world” and expressing “a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”
But its most important theological statement is this: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, I’m talking to Prof. Thomas S. Kidd about religion and the American Founding. Specifically, I’m talking to him about the faith of Thomas Jefferson — the Founding Father who drafted the Declaration of Independence. I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host.
Thomas S. Kidd is Research Professor of Church History at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., and a Senior Research Scholar at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh, published this year by Yale University Press.
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