Richard T. Hughes, professor of religion at Messiah College and author of Christian America and the Kingdom of God, offers the first in a series of articles addressing "The Christian Right in Context."
In this first article, he outlines why "orthodox Christians" of America's Revolutionary era (which did not include Baptists and Quakers, both groups widely considered heretical by established colonial churches) were hostile to America's founding fathers, feared religious freedom, and "were insistent that the United States should become a Christian nation."
In short, "orthodox Christians" of the late eighteenth century considered America's founding fathers as liberals and heretics with a secular agenda; believed that government sanctioned and controlled religion was necessary for a healthy-functioning society and state; and did not want to relinguish their colonial theocracies.
By way of comparison, the modern Religious Right (orthodox evangelicals) has bestowed sainthood upon America's founding fathers, transforming them from secular, liberal heretics to orthodox Christians; believes that government sanctioned and controlled religion is the answer to modern moral and social ills; and advocates a return to a colonial theocratic model.
Whereas in the late eighteenth century, America's founding fathers (goaded by and allied with Baptists in particular) crushed orthodox dreams of a Christian nation, today's evangelicals (including far too many Baptists) have created mythical, orthodox national founders as a bridge to theocracy.
For national Baptists, the remarkable part of this whitewashing of history is that by marching backward to colonial theocracy, they are blotting out their own faith heritage that shaped their own nation.