Like most of his colleagues on the religious right, Tim LaHaye, a co-author of the best-selling “Left Behind” series, insists that “those who founded this nation” were “citizens who had a personal and abiding faith in the God of the Bible.” If LaHaye means only to say that religion has played an important role in American history, he is surely correct. But if he is taken literally (as a believer in the inerrancy of the Bible should be), he is decidedly wrong. It is one of the oddities of our history that this very religious country was created by men who, for one brief but significant moment, had serious reservations about religion in general and Christianity in particular.
According to David L. Holmes’s “Faiths of the Founding Fathers,” none of the first five presidents were conventional Christians. All were influenced to one degree or another by Deism, the once-popular view that God set the world in motion and then abstained from human affairs.