Ben Franklin’s faith the subject of Baylor prof’s new book
Baylor history professor Thomas Kidd‘s latest book begins with a question: At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, why did Benjamin Franklin, of all people, suggest they begin the proceedings with prayer?
The answer to that question turns out to be much more complex than you might think. With that moment as a starting point, Dr. Kidd unpacks Franklin’s complicated religious beliefs in his latest book, Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father.
What the Founding Fathers believed about God and religion has long been a subject of debate and fascination, and Franklin’s beliefs in particular may have the widest variety of interpretations among his peers. As multi-faceted as Franklin’s life was — he was a printer, diplomat, scientist and more — his religious beliefs were perhaps even more complex. From his Puritan upbringing to deism, skepticism and more, Kidd explores the influences and evolution of faith throughout Franklin’s life.
There may be no one more qualified to examine Franklin’s religious life than Kidd. A distinguished professor of history at Baylor and associate director of Baylor’s Institute for the Studies of Religion, he’s also a distinguished author who has authored or co-authored nine books and contributed to numerous others. The influence of religion on America’s founding and founders is a topic Kidd has studied extensively, having previously written books about Revolutionary War-era orator Patrick Henry and “America’s spiritual founding father” George Whitefield. Two other of Kidd’s books on this time period — The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America and God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution — were named among the best books of the year by Christianity Today when they were released.
Sic ’em, Dr. Kidd!