His Early Life & Indiscretions
His Friendship with George Whitefield
On this, his first visit to Philadelphia, Whitefield reached out and introduced himself to Franklin who was eight years his senior. This proved to be the beginning of a long friendship that lasted until Whitefield’s death 31 years later. In later visits, Whitefield would even stay in Franklin’s home when visiting Philadelphia.
Evidence of Change
After a voyage to England in 1757, during which the ship almost crashed into a small, rocky island in the Atlantic at midnight, the first thing Franklin did upon reaching shore was to seek out a church and offer up thanksgiving to God. In a letter to his wife, he wrote, “The bell ringing for church, we went thither immediately and with hearts full of gratitude, returned sincere thanks to God for the mercies we had received.”
Whether Franklin ever embraced all the tenets of orthodox Christianity is still debated. What is not in question is the fact that Franklin believed Christianity to be a positive force in society, which is why he recommended that it be taught in the public schools of Pennsylvania. Franklin would be appalled at modern attempts to remove expressions of Christianity from the public arena.
Franklin Calls the Constitutional Convention to Prayer
On June 28, 1787, seventeen years after Whitefield’s death, Franklin was attending the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia as one of the delegates. Much regional disagreement had surfaced and the convention was about to be suspended because of unresolved strife and dissension. It was at this critical moment that Franklin, now 81 years of age, rose to his feet, and addressed the Convention President, George Washington, with these words:
If Franklin was America’s most irreligious Founder, what does that say for most politicians in Washington, D.C. today? If Franklin was the most irreligious of our Founders, then it shows how far our nation has fallen and how desperate we are for another Great Awakening in our land.