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Prophesies of GodlessnessPredictions of America's Iminent Secularization from the Puritans to Postmodernity$
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Charles T Mathewes and Christopher McKnight Nichols

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195342536

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342536.001.0001

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 The Early Republic

 The Early Republic

Thomas Jefferson's Philosophy of History and the Future of American Christianity

Chapter:
(p.35) 2 The Early Republic
Source:
Prophesies of Godlessness
Author(s):

Johann Neem

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342536.003.0003

Thomas Jefferson is famous for believing that reason would moderate American Christianity. In time, he prophesied, Americans would replace faith‐based Christianity with a Unitarian Christianity better suited for a republic. This chapter explores Jefferson's theory of historical progress to understand how he reached his mistaken conclusion at a time when evangelical Christianity, far from receding, was deepening its influence in American culture. It argues that Jefferson believed that a “wall of separation” between church and state would reform American Christianity by subjecting it to public scrutiny.

Keywords:   Thomas Jefferson, Unitarianism, Wall of Separation, Church and State, philosophy of history, founding fathers

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