* Did the Bible play a role in the founding of the USA?
* Why does the Declaration of Independence mention God and Creation?
* Were the authors of the Declaration Biblical Creationists?
* Are the Founding Fathers represented accurately today?
* Program explores the Biblical and Creationist side of the Declaration of Independence
By FRANK DEFREITAS for WONDERS OF THE BIBLE
PUBLISHED: May 28, 2020 | UPDATED: May 4, 2022
You’re listening to Wonders of the Bible. This is Frank DeFreitas.
It is said that if Philadelphia is the birthplace of our nation, then the Declaration of Independence has to be its birth certificate.
Just like any other birth, each and every year thereafter brings a birthday. And the United States of America -- and its founding document, the Declaration of Independence -- has a very special birthday coming up in the year 2026.
They’re calling this upcoming 250th birthday the Semiquincentennial Celebration.
I often wonder, “what will the Semiquincentennial Celebration look like in today’s America?”.
Will it educate people about the Christian Holy Bible? Will it acknowledge the Bible’s role in the founding of the United States of America?
You may remember -- or at least have heard of -- the last time we celebrated a birthday for the United States. It was our 200th birthday, the year was 1976, and it was called the Bicentennial.
One of the events that I recall was a special train that travelled all over the county. It was called the American Freedom Train. It stopped in many places, both large cities and small towns, so that people could come aboard and see the exhibits that documented our history. In one display car, it featured several famous Bibles, and the American stories behind them.
Will the Bible-believing faith of our Founding Fathers be represented as truthfully in 2026 -- as it was in 1976? As it was in ... 1776?
The result of this somewhat inquisitive nature, is a powerpoint presentation and historical display that I’ve produced titled, “Christ, Creation, and the Declaration of Independence”.
The podcast that you are listening to, or the web page that you are reading from, was made to give a synopsis of my program. Think of it as a program about the program.
I have broken it up into three parts: section 1 is about my powerpoint presentation; section 2 my display of Bibles in early American History; and section 3, is my display of the Declaration of Independence through time.
So let’s begin.
THE POWER POINT PRESENTATION:
The State Capitol Building in Harrisburg, PA displays murals that depict the founding of Pennsylvania and the beginning of the United States of America. The *very first* mural shows William Tyndale printing his English translation of the New Testament in 1525. The second mural shows the burning of those Bibles, and the burning of Tyndale himself.
My thesis with this new presentation and exhibit is this: that it was the Holy Bible, and the faith of our Founding Fathers, that ultimately resulted in the content and writing of the Declaration of Independence. That they were not only building the foundation of the United States of America on Biblical principles, but they were also Creationists ... believing entirely in Biblical Creation.
My conclusion is this: that there wouldn’t have been a United States of America without the Declaration of Independence, and there wouldn’t have been a Declaration of Independence without Jesus Christ ... the Creator.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Colossians 1:16
My main interest is in the fact that our nation’s birth certificate presents words and phrases representing God and Creation.
Those phrases are as follows:
1. The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God
2. Created and Creator
3. The Supreme Judge of the World
4. Divine Providence
Do people of today’s America know that the Declaration of Independence references God and Creation multiple times?
Most likely not.
Where the founding fathers Creationists?
Most likely yes.
However, I wanted to know the real story. Not opinions. Not conjecture.
So I decided to research the actual words and documents of our Founding Fathers themselves. For this I turned to the National Archives and the Library of Congress. I researched not only their professional papers, but also personal correspondences. Not only of our Founding Fathers themselves, but also their friends, their wives, children, and anyone else I could find along the way.
In the powerpoint presentation segment of my visit, you’ll see for yourself. I will rely mostly on the words of the Founding Fathers themselves. I will cover their thoughts on God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Bible. We will explore their thoughts on Biblical creation. And, lastly, how all of it came together to create one document: The Declaration of Independence.
Lord willing, I will try my very best to answer two questions: (1) How does the Declaration of Independence point to Scripture?; and (2) How does Scripture point to the Declaration of Independence?
SEGMENT TWO :
AMERICAN BIBLES in HISTORY
BIBLES: Pages from two of the most important Bibles in American history are shown on display: The Robert Aitken Bible, endorsed by the U.S. Congress in 1782; and Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson's translation from the Greek, printed by Jane Aitken, the first woman to print the Bible in America. See them (and others) at my presentations.
The Wonders of the Bible collection is a private Bible history collection maintained by me, Frank, and my wife, Debi, DeFreitas. The mission of the collection is to help educate those persons interested in learning about the history, and preservation, of the Christian Holy Bible: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
We collect materials that illuminate unique Bible-based visual arts, science, and communication technologies.
To go along with my presentation -- and also for the enjoyment and enrichment of those in attendance -- I bring a display of selected items with me from our collection.
Let me mention a few, so that you may get an idea of what to expect when it comes to the display part of my visit. Note that these examples are all individual pages, or leaves, from these famous Bibles. I may refer to these Bibles in my powerpoint presentation, but, for the most part, they are for my display.
Also note that the allotment of time for set-up and break-down will determine how many items are on display at any given location.
1. THE WILLIAM TYNDALE BIBLE
There are beautiful murals painted inside the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They tell the story of the founding of this important state in America’s history. The first mural in the series shows William Tyndale printing his English translation of the New Testament in 1525 -- and also smuggling those Bibles into England. The second mural is just as interesting: it depicts the public burning of Tyndale’s Bibles, and then the burning of Tyndale himself.
To start off my display of Bible history in America, I will bring a page from the 1552 printing of the Tyndale Bible. Since this early Bible did not contain numbered verses yet, this page contains what would one day be identified as John 3:16: “For God so loveth the world, that He hath given His only Begotten Son, that none that believe in Him would perish, but have everlasting life.”
2. THE BIBLE OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
The Robert Aitken Bible is considered the first English Bible printed in the newly-formed United States, and also known as the Bible of the American Revolution. It has a fascinating story. It was printed small enough to fit into the coat pocket of the soldiers of the Continental Army. There are only 50 of these Bibles known to exist in the entire world today, so even having a single page is considered rare, indeed.
This was, and still is, the only printing of the Bible endorsed by our U.S. Congress.
The story goes like this: In 1782, Congress passed a resolution stating: "Resolved. That the United States in Congress assembled highly approve the pious and laudable undertaking of Mr. Aitken, as subservient to the interest of religion, as well as an influence of the progress of arts in this country, and being satisfied from the above report (by the congressional chaplains), they recommend this edition of the bible to the inhabitants of the United States, and hereby authorize him to publish this recommendation."
Please note, Congress did not authorize the printing of the Bible itself, nor did they have to. What Congress did was give authorization to Robert Aitken to publish *their recommendation* of the Bible. Remember where it said they “recommend this edition of the bible to the inhabitants of the United States”. This is what they authorized him to publish inside his Bible. Which he did. This is a very common misunderstanding. It is the little things like this that we have to be very, very careful with when we are conveying historical information on Christianity and Bible history in American history.
3. THE 1776 GUN-WAD BIBLE
Christopher Saur Jr published this Bible in 1776 at Germantown, near Philadelphia, just when the Revolutionary War broke out. Germantown became occupied by the British, using the Bible leaves as bedding for their horses, and for making cartridges for their rifles. This became known as “The Gun Wad Bible.” It was the first Bible printed with all U.S. materials: type, ink, paper, printing press.
4. THE THOMSON BIBLE -- PRINTED BY JANE AITKEN
The Thomson Bible was translated from the Greek Septuagint by Charles Thomson, after he retired as Secretary to the Continental Congress. He was the first person in America to translate the entire Bible from Greek. This Bible was printed in Philadelphia by Jane Aitken. Jane was the first woman to print the Bible in America. She is also known as an extraordinary bookbinder, working at the time by hand. The example on display is a galley taken directly from her printing press. If you look closely, you’ll also find several strands of bookbinding string that contain knots that she tied.
5. THE ISSAC COLLINS BIBLE
Born in neighboring Delaware; this was the first American "Family Bible"; and also the first Bible printed in New Jersey in 1791.
6. DELAWARE’s FIRST BIBLE
The first Delaware New Testament was printed by James Adams in Wilmington in 1781.
7. GEORGE WASHINGTON INAUGURATION BIBLE
The first Bible printed in New York was in 1792. This was offered in parts by subscription, and is known as the Self-Interpreting Bible. This is a page from one of the editions. George Washington was the first subscriber, and is listed on the subscribers page. It is said that he used this Bible during his second inauguration, March 1793, but I have not been able to confirm this.
8. THE HIEROGLYPHIC BIBLE
Printed in Massachusetts by Isaiah Thomas in 1788. Many people say that this Bible was made for children due to its woodcuts telling the Bible story, rather than text ... but many others credit this Bible for bringing the Gospel to those who had not yet learned to read. It is one of 88 books designated by the U.S. Library of Congress' as "Books That Shaped America”.
9. The THOMAS JEFFERSON FAMILY BIBLE
The Jefferson family Bible is in the collection of the rare book department of the University of Virginia. This large Bible was printed in Oxford, England by John Baskett. The first edition of 1717 is known as the Vinegar Bible, and also called a “Baskett-full of errors” due to several mistakes made during the printing process. One of the mistakes uses the word “Vinegar” instead of “Vineyard”. The chapter heading of Luke 20 was supposed to read ‘The parable of the vineyard’ instead it was printed as, ‘the parable of the vinegar’. The Book of Acts page on display is from the 1717 first edition; Jefferson had a later printing of 1752.
10. I’ll leave #10 blank because I haven’t finished going through all of my American Bible history pieces. Let’s just say that we keep it as a surprise.
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE THROUGH TIME
This Dunlap Broadside facsimile is one of the most sought after printings of the Declaration of Independence. Rarely is a facsimile of anything sought after, but the Corn-Driscoll Dunlap Broadside facsimile is an exception to the rule. No expense was spared in its re-creation to the most minute detail. The original was the very first Declaration of Independence, printed on the night of July 4th 1776. See it at my presentations. CLICK / TAP PHOTO TO ENLARGE.
I’ll also bring a number of American history facsimiles. Let me tell you about a few that you might find at my display. Once again, the allotment of time for set-up and break-down will determine how many items are on display at any given location.
I’ll bring a facsimile engraving of Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten first draft of the Declaration. This is a famous 1867 Engraving by Charles Toppan, with the original in the collection of the State Department in Washington D.C., now known as the National Archives.
Additional display items include a very famous facsimile copy of the Dunlap Broadside. This was the very first Declaration, printed on the night of July 4th, 1776.
One copy traveled on the 1976 Bicentennial American Freedom Train, throughout the United States in place of the original, which was much too expensive to provide insurance for.
The original document is sometimes referred to as the “Lost Copy” ... since it was originally lost, and then re-discovered in 1968. It was found during the closing and cleaning out of Leary’s Book Store in Philadelphia. It is believed to have been in storage there for more than 100 years.
It was purchased by Dallas businessmen Ira Corn and Joseph Driscoll.
In 1970, they contracted with R.R. Donnelley & Sons, Lakeside Press, in Chicago, to recreate exact facsimile copies -- and no expense was spared. The entire production from the custom-made paper, to the ink formulation, typesetting, letter-press printing, and even the die cutting of the paper itself, recreated the document exactly as it would have been printed on the evening of July 4th, 1776.
These Donnelley facsimile copies are scarce, and highly sought after collectibles, and I am very happy -- and blessed -- to have had the opportunity, and ability, to obtain one for my Wonders of the Bible collection -- and for you to view!
You won’t want to miss a chance to see it in person.
Another famous facsimile is that of the Declaration of Independence, as engraved by William J. Stone in 1820, by request of John Quincy Adams. This is the Declaration that most people are familiar with: the one that has all the signatures. It was made from the original Declaration before it began to fade and decay. It is still being printed today, and many people are surprised at its enormous size.
As a side note, did you know that the signed copy of the Declaration of Independence was not signed completely on July 4th, 1776? The copy that we know so well, the one that contains all of the signatures, wasn't completely signed until the 2nd day of August.
In fact, there are only two names on the very first Declaration of Independence: John Hancock and Charles Thomson. These printed copies were made during the overnight hours, and quickly dispatched via messengers throughout the colonies.
Other misc. items that I usually bring with me are:
In 2020, I re-created the Declaration of Independence to celebrate the upcoming 2026 U.S. Semiquincentennial (250th anniversary). Its four main references to God and Creation are now highlighted, and printed in bold red type. You can click or tap on the photo to see how I did it, step-by-step. -- Frank DeFreitas
My own version of the Declaration, called the Semiquincentennial Declaration of Independence. This is what started this whole program. In 2020, during Covid lockdown, I recreated the original Declaration, and highlighted each mention of God by printing those words in bold, red ink. You can see one, and even order one for yourself at the event. If you wish.
Then there’s an 1864 U.S. Two Cent Piece. This was the first American coin to bear "IN GOD WE TRUST". Many people believe that In God We Trust showed up on American money in the 1950’s. That is incorrect. The true date is the 1800’s.
Along those same lines, in 1754 -- before the United States became the United States -- the citizens of North Carolina were using paper currency that contained an image of "The Holy Bible".
One more crowd-pleaser that I just have to mention is one of the world’s smallest Declarations. These are quite rare. The Declaration is so small, that you will have to look at it through a powerful laboratory microscope.
So that wraps up the listing of items. I may not be able to bring all of the ... and it may be actually more than the list. It all depends on a number of factors.
In closing, I would like to add that none of these exhibit items are anywhere near as important as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as our founding fathers already knew, placing our hopes and dreams in anything other than in God's Holy Word, would amount to nothing more than an exercise in futility.
I am also fully aware that for every statement, or belief, expressed in the world today, there always seems to be an equal and opposite statement, or belief, to counter it.
If someone says that they believe that the United States was founded under Biblical principles, there are plenty of others with the opposing view that America was *not* founded under Biblical principles. Come to think of it, there are many *Christians* that feel that the United States was not founded under Biblical principles ... and one can included many clergy in that number, as well.
Criticism often cites that many of the Founding Fathers were subscribed to the emerging world-view surrounding that time period known as the “era of the enlightenment”. During this timeframe in history, mankind’s accomplishments were moving to the forefront, with credit to God receding in the background, as we supposedly learned more about -- and gave ourselves the credit for -- the world around us.
The Bible tells us many times about how mankind would turn away from the Word of God -- past, present, and future.
But the irony in all of this has not gone un-noticed, and here it is:
Since the Bible already predicts this, the more that people criticize the accuracy of the Bible, the more they prove the Bible’s accuracy!
You see, their criticism gives authority to the very Bible that they’re trying to discredit.
When all is said and done, you can mix and match all of these viewpoints and opinions all that you want ...
... if the Founding Fathers were Christian, were not Christian, or were from Mars, it really just proves how God can -- did -- and still does -- use *everyone* in His master plan.
When it comes right down to it, the Declaration of Independence is still the Declaration of Independence. It is still the birth certificate of the United States of America. And it still contains the phrases: the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God; Created and Creator; The Supreme Judge of the World; and Divine Providence.
If you would like me to come out and give a presentation to your group or school, just let me know.
If you are reading or listening to this because I am already scheduled to visit you -- I look forward to it!
Take a moment and explore my web site at: wondersofthebible.org
Once again, my name is Frank DeFreitas, and may God Bless You Today and Every Day AND, REMEMBER, to always love others, just as Jesus Christ Loves YOU.
"Science is the study of the physical manifestations of God in action."
-- Frank DeFreitas (Click Here for BIO)