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Excerpt: "Scholars and popular authors regularly assert that the founders were deists. For instance, historian Frank Lambert asserts that the “significance of the Enlightenment and Deism for the birth of the American republic, and especially the relationship between church and state within it, can hardly be overstated.” Law professor Geoffrey R. Stone similarly contends that “deistic beliefs played a central role in the framing of the American republic … [and the] founding generation viewed religion, and particularly religion’s relation to government, through an Enlightenment lens that was deeply skeptical of orthodox Christianity.” For a final example, the dean of American historians, Gordon S. Wood, opines that “The Founding Fathers were at most deists – they believed God created the world, then left it alone to run …” "


Originally published as chapter five of The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religion and Politics in the U.S., First Edition. Edited by Barbara A. McGraw. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.