Which U.S. president was also president of the American Bible Society?

How religious were the Founding Fathers?

There’s been no shortage of arguments in recent years about what the Fathers intended for this country — in terms of the role of faith.

Numerous books have been written that make every possible case. I recently read about a new one, The Spiritual Journey of George Washington, by Janice Connell.

A releases says this: “It was George Washington’s deep personal faith that allowed him to triumph over life’s adversities, and it steeled him with the profound inner strength that carried him from the dark days of Valley Forge to the pinnacle of the Presidency.”

Today, the Rev. Paul G. Irwin, president of the NYC-based “American Bible Society,”:http://www.bibles.com/ released this statement about ties between the Founding Fathers and his organization:

The Fourth of July provides an excellent opportunity to think about the principles that were the foundation of this country. Even though a recent Gallup Poll shows that nine out of ten Americans believe in God, strangely enough there are those who are convinced that the bedrock of the creation of the United States is based solely on secular principles rather than religious ones.
There is a reason why the Ten Commandments, Scripture quotations and beautiful artwork depicting biblical scenes are in this country’s Capitol, the Supreme Court and other federal buildings. Our early U.S. Presidents were strong believers in God. For instance, President John Quincy Adams became one of the Presidents of the American Bible Society. He wrote, in an address to the Bible Society, “The Bible carries with it the history of the creation, the fall and redemption of man, and discloses to him, in the infant born at Bethlehem, the legislator and savior of the world.” Continue reading

Know your Baptists

When most New Yorkers think of Baptists, they probably think of white, conservative evangelicals — Southern Baptist-types — and African-American progressives.

And, yes, those groups are out there. But the Baptist world is much more complex. There are white, liberal and moderate Baptists. And many black Baptists are actually quite conservative when it comes to theology, if not politics.

When you then consider that Baptist congregations are all independent (even those that belong to denominations), the Baptist world becomes very difficult to get a handle on.

The AP’s Rachel Zoll wrote a terrific story about how liberal-to-moderate Baptists (black and white) are trying to organize so they can counter the cultural influence of all those conservative Baptists.

Read this and you’ll have a much better idea of what Baptist means in 2007:

By RACHEL ZOLL

AP Religion Writer

They’re America’s other Baptists — the ones who appoint women pastors, work with theological liberals and line up more closely with President Carter than with President George W. Bush.
Over the last 25 years, they have watched with growing concern as their conservative Southern Baptist brethren came to define the religious tradition for the general public.
Now, these other Baptists, who are spread among many different denominations, are slowly pooling resources on humanitarian work and evangelism, hoping they can have a bigger impact.
On Friday in Washington, two of the larger groups — the American Baptist Churches and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship — are worshipping together for the first time. They are commissioning two missionary couples who will represent both groups, and are organizing a national Islamic-Baptist dialogue to improve relations with Muslims.
“It is an effort to celebrate our common heritages as Baptist Christians and to affirm our commitment to work together more collaboratively,� said the Rev. Daniel Vestal, national coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. “The Baptist witness is much richer and more nuanced than is characterized so often in the public square now.� Continue reading