The Faith of John Adams: Deist or Christian?

American history revisionists have been actively trying to undermine the true history of America and its Founding Fathers. They believe if they can continue to spread false secular histories long enough that the American people will eventually believe them. Selling lies has long been a propaganda technique used for indoctrination.

Among those false histories being espoused by secular revisionists is that most of the Founding Fathers were deists. To date, we have examined the words of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Today we will look at one of the other Founding Fathers the revisionists claim to have been a deist.

“Deists like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson rejected the miraculous and the supernatural beliefs of divine intervention with humans.”

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As in the previous articles, we will look to the words of John Adams to determine if he was a deist or a Christian.

On September 7, 1774, Reverend Jacob Duché, Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, delivered an opening prayer for the first meeting of the Continental Congress. In his prayer, Rev. Duché read Psalm 35. Afterwards, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail:

“I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on the morning.”

On June 21, 1776, Adams wrote a letter to Zabdiel Adams in which he expressed his views on the importance of religion and morality in the foundational principles of establishing the new nation:

“Statesmen, … may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue; and if this cannot be inspired into our people in a greater measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”

At the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, John Adams delivered a speech in which he stated:

“Sir, I know the uncertainty of human affairs, but I see, I see clearly, through this day’s business. You and I, indeed, may rue it. We may not live to the time, when this declaration shall be made good. We may die; die, colonists; die, slaves; die, it may be, ignominiously and on the scaffold.”


“Be it so. Be it so. If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready, at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may. But while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a free country.”

A deist would not have stated ‘If it be the pleasure of Heaven’.

On March 4, 1797, John Adams was sworn in as the second President of the United States. In his inaugural address, he again invoked upon the active participation of God, something a deist would not have done:

“And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence.”

On March 6, 1799, President John Adams declared a national day of fasting and thanksgiving. In his official proclamation he wrote:



6 March, 1799.


As no truth is more clearly taught in the volume of inspiration, nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the governing providence of a Supreme Being, and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributor of rewards and punishments,… should, as a society, make their acknowledgments of dependence and obligation to Him,…that in circumstances of great urgency and seasons of imminent danger, earnest and particular supplications should be made to Him who is able to defend or to destroy; as, moreover, the most precious interests of the people of the United States…


For these reasons I have thought proper to recommend, and I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the twentyfifth day of April next, be observed, throughout the United States of America, as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens, on that day, abstain as far as may be from their secular occupations, devote the time to the sacred duties of religion, in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offences against the most high God, confess them before him with the sincerest penitence, implore his pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that, through the grace of his Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to his righteous requisitions in time to come;…


And I do, also, recommend that, with these acts of humiliation, penitence, and prayer, fervent thanksgiving to the author of all good be united, for the countless favors which he is still continuing to the people of the United States, and which render their condition as a nation eminently happy, when compared with the lot of others.”

On June 28, 1813, Adams wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson in which he penned;

“The general Principles, on which the Fathers Achieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite….And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: . . . Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.”

In another letter written to Jefferson on December 25, 1813, Adams stated:

“I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world.  It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen.”

Concerning the Christian religion, John Adams wrote:

“The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity, … it is resignation to God, it is goodness itself to man.”

In his diary entry dated February 22, 1756, John Adams noted:

“Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited!  Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward almighty God…What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be.”

Adams duties as a statesman in the early days of the nation kept him away from home for extended periods of time. Even though the fate of the nation weighed heavily on his shoulders, he was also greatly concerned with the well-being and education of his children at home. On April 15, 1776, with the looming step the colonists were preparing to take, John Adams wrote to his beloved wife saying:

“John has genius, and so has Charles. Take care that they don’t go astray. Cultivate their minds, inspire their little hearts, raise their wishes. Fix their attention upon great and glorious objects. Root out every little thing. Weed out every meanness. Make them great and manly. Teach them to scorn injustice, ingratitude, cowardice, and falsehood. Let them revere nothing but religion, morality, and liberty.”

Adams desire to see his children properly educated in all areas, including religion can be seen in the life of his son, John Quincy Adams. John Quincy was a very devout Christian and even wrote The Bible Lessons of John Quincy Adams for His Son to use for his own children’s education and religious upbringing. It’s unlikely that John Quincy would have turned out to be such a devout Christian had his father been a deist.

Considering the way of life and strong family structure back in the days of John Adams, one’s faith was generally passed down from father to son. That means that in all likelihood, John Quincy got his Christian faith from his father. John would have taught his son what he knew and obviously he knew Christianity. Think of it this way, if you knew nothing about nuclear physics, you wouldn’t be teaching your kids about nuclear physics, would you? In my own life, my dad knew all about nature. He taught me not only to just recognize animals in the wild but he taught me how to track, identify their poop, identify bird songs, etc. He taught me how animals and fish react to different weather conditions and where best to find them depending upon the weather. Because of my dad’s teachings, I ended up getting a Bachelor’s Degree in wildlife/fisheries biology and Master’s Degree in biology – population genetics. The same was true with John Adams teaching his son John Quincy Adams his Christian faith which he in turn passed on to his sons and spurred him to write the Bible lessons for them.

As with the other Founding Fathers we have looked at so far, John Adams’ own words testify to his not being a deist, but a man who believed that God had an active role in the affairs of men. He may not have held to many of the biblical precepts we attribute to Christianity, however, he did not believe in some benign do-nothing deity as did most deists of his time. His son John Quincy Adams is also a testimony to the Christian legacy that John Adams passed down to his children and grandchildren.



Dave Jolly

R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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