In that work, he declared: Such is my veneration for every religion that reveals the attributes of the Deity, or a future state of rewards and punishments, that I had rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mohamed inculcated upon our youth than see them grow up wholly devoid of a system of religious principles.
But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament. All its doctrines and precepts are calculated to promote the happiness of society and the safety and well being of civil government.
Numerous religions did exist in America at the time of the Founders; and the Founders understood the potential value of any major religion to a society; but they specifically preferred Christianity a fact John Adams made clear in a letter to Thomas Jefferson: Who composed that army of fine young fellows that was then before my eyes? There were among them Roman Catholics, English Episcopalians, Scotch and American Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Anabaptists, German Lutherans, German Calvinists, Universalists, Arians, Priestleyans, Socinians, Independents, Congregationalists, Horse Protestants and House Protestants, Deists and Atheists, and Protestants “qui ne croyent rein.” Very few, however, of several of these species; nevertheless, all educated in the general principles of Christianity. Could my answer be understood by any candid reader or hearer, to recommend to all the others the general principles, institutions, or systems of education of the Roman Catholics? Or those of the Quakers? Or those of the Presbyterians? Or those of the Methodists? Or those of the Moravians? Or those of the Universalists? Or those of the Philosophers? No. The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.
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 I could therefore safely say, consistently with all my then and present information, that I believed they would never make discoveries in contradiction to these general principles. Today, we might accurately describe the “general principles of Christianity” as the “Judeo-Christian Ethic” since the Founders showed great attachment to the “Hebrews” (see chapter 8 for detailed information of the Founders’ views on this group).