Signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.
Religion: Deist (Considered himself Christian). Puritan upbringing.
I believe in one God, creator of the universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshiped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental principles of all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals, and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England some doubts as to his divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as it probably has, of making his doctrines more respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any particular marks of his displeasure.
I shall only add, respecting myself, that, having experienced the goodness of that being in conducting me prosperously thro’ a long life, I have no doubt of its continuance in the next, though without the smallest conceit of meriting such goodness. My sentiments on this head you will see in the copy of an old letter enclosed, which I wrote in answer to one from a zealous religionist, whom I had relieved in a paralytic case by electricity, and who, being afraid I should grow proud upon it, sent me his serious though rather impertinent caution.
P.S…. I confide that you will not expose me to criticism and censure by publishing any part of this communication to you. I have ever let others enjoy their religious sentiments, without reflecting on them for those that appeared to me unsupportable and even absurd. All sects here, and we have a great variety, have experienced my good will in assisting them with subscriptions for building their new places of worship; and as I have never opposed any of their doctrines, I hope to go out of the world in peace with them all.
Franklin’s Advice to Thomas Paine Regarding the Age of Reason, In this letter, Franklin advises Paine to burn his manuscript of the Age of Reason,because it undermines religious ideals. – The works of Benjamin Franklin: … Volume 10 By Jared Sparks – 1840
It was Ben Franklin who, at a critical impasse during the Constitutional Convention in June 1787, attempted to introduce the practice of daily common prayer with these words:
… In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. — Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. … And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance. I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: …I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.
“Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion”
Franklin formulated a presentation of his beliefs and published it in 1728.
“I Believe there is one Supreme most perfect Being, Author and Father of the Gods themselves. For I believe that Man is not the most perfect Being but One, rather that as many Degrees of Beings his Inferiors, so there are many Degrees of Beings superior to him.”
“O Creator, O Father, I believe that thou art Good, and that thou art pleas’d with the Pleasure of thy Children. Praised be thy Name for Ever. “
Read the complete Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion transcript here: http://franklinpapers.org/franklin/framedVolumes.jsp?vol=1&page=101a
Benjamin Franklin …In His Own Words – Library of Congress - http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/franklin-printer.html