Great to see history profs David Kalivas and Jeffrey Sommers grace our pages, following and [even better!] participating in this blog.
Based on their contributions so far, I do believe both are under the impression that this blog is unfamiliar with their quite familiar arguments, which historian Allen C. Guelzo labels the "Harvard Narrative"---that the secular forces of reason and Enlightenment liberated America-in-the-womb from oppressive religion and superstition, and deserve the lion's share of the credit for the establishment of the new American republic.
However, it appears it's the defenders of the "Harvard Narrative" who are unfamiliar with the counterarguments to their position, counterarguments often presented on this blog.
Thus, Dr. Sommers begins his reply with a reference to the quite limited "witch scare" in New England some 80 years before, followed even more unfortunately with "the jihadist beheaders of American journalist Daniel Pearl might have felt quite comfortable in that America rather than our present United States."
Oy. One scarcely knows where to start. I can only hope that Dr. Sommers employs such indefensible hyperbole as a necessary antidote to the fringe who argue America was founded as some sort of Christian theocracy. But that indefensible position is not offered anywhere on the American Creation blog.
As to Jeffrey's "defense" of Dr. Kalivas, here's the story: David objected to the assertion [shared by Jefferson and Justice Joseph Story], that "religion was left to the states," a rather simple formulation. Historical evidence was offered in support, that established state churches continued after ratification of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as did religious tests for statewide office. David was asked for, but has not yet given, historical proof that his reading of Article VI's Supremacy Clause was ever understood as giving the central government authority over religion ["Congress shall make no law..."].
So that's that issue, and no more. This is not jihad, and we leave the "culture wars" to other blogs.
As for the prevailing theology of the Founding, there was one, but it was not Jefferson's, Jefferson often trotted out by the Harvard Narrative as representative of the Founding theology.
Because Jefferson took great pains to conceal or divert attention from his rather idiosyncratic religious unorthodoxy, and in the very 1800 election Dr. Sommers cites, when the Federalists accused Jefferson of atheism, Jefferson's supporters took great pains to assure the American people that wasn't true!
Indeed, it's that concealment and denial by his supporters that presents the more probative view of America at the Founding. [Not that Jefferson was an atheist atall, acknowledged in the above link.]
So, I do hope the aforementioned Drs. Kalivas & Sommers stick around this blog, as they assuredly have much to offer. I also wish to assure them that this is no turnip-truck blog, unfamiliar with any of their arguments presented so far in our comments sections. These arguments make up the prevailing narrative of America's history taught in our schools and colleges.
But the Harvard Narrative has its critics, and those critics like Dr. Guelzo [also Dr. Gregg Frazer as well as your humble narrator] do bring historical facts to underpin their [counter]arguments, as well as the views of near-contemporaries of the Founding like Tocqueville and Justice Story, author of the first comprehensive analysis of the Constitution.
Gentlemen, I for one don't disagree with a single fact you've offered in evidence; again, they are quite familiar, and facts are facts. In fact, I'll happily add historical corroboration to most of your submitted evidence, particularly on Jefferson. I submit simply that there are many more relevant facts than that, many now off the beaten path in 2009 precisely because they're egregiously overlooked by the prevailing narrative, as Dr. James Hutson strenuously objects here, in yet another challenge to the Harvard Narrative.
Please just be open to the challenges, or at least address your objections directly, with your own counterarguments and counterfactuals, and in this way we can all learn. This blog is committed not to "winning" debates, who's right and who's "wrong," but to cooperative inquiry and discussion. There's no "wrong" as much as one argument might hold greater truth than another. We surely agree that it wasn't cut-and-dried, black/white, when it comes to religion and the Founding. It was more a sliding scale.
Unfortunately, the academic world reflects the world of politics these days, as "bloodsport," but this groupblog is one of the few that---at least so far---has accommodated all views with courtesy and good ol' American pluralism. We got yer Catlicks, yer Calvinists, yer ex-Catholics and ex-Calvinists, yer agnostics, yer atheists, and even a Mormon or two. [No Hindoos yet.]
In short, welcome.