Even though Deism is of great importance to the American Revolution, most Americans and most people around the world have never even heard of Deism. The celebration of the Fourth of July and the signing of the Deistic document (it is a Deistic document because it only mentions God in Deistic terms such as “Nature’s God” and never mentions the Bible, Christianity, Judaism, Jesus, Moses, etc), the Declaration of Independence which promotes civil liberties and freedom to us all, offers Deists a great opportunity to take action to correct this major problem.
The Fourth of July is a time when many conversations are about America’s founding and the American Revolution. This is a great time to bring up Deism! Deists can point out in these conversations that many of America’s key founders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, etc., were Deists and that the Declaration of Independence is a Deistic document for reasons mentioned above.
This can be followed up with pointing out how fortunate we are that they did not believe in Christianity or the Bible and point out the command in the Bible which everyone of America’s founders and everyone who took part in or who promoted the American Revolution in any way violated. This command is to live in fear of “the powers that be” and to show blind obedience to them. It claims that the powers that be are ordained by God to rule over us and that anyone who resists the powers that be will be damned by God. It is found at Romans 13:1-7.
Recently an article appeared in the Christian publication/website Charisma that claimed Ben Franklin was a Christian and that Thomas Paine refuted his Deism and converted to Christianity on his deathbed. These are lies and show how the “revealed” religionists fear Deism and its promotion of our innate God-given reason. I wrote an article refuting the false claims about Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine here.
In a letter dated June 24, 1826 to Roger C. Weightman who had invited Thomas Jefferson to attend a Fourth of July celebration, Thomas Jefferson wrote from Monticello regarding the Fourth of July, “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.” Thomas Jefferson died on that Fourth of July, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Deistic document, the Declaration of Independence.
In addition to bringing up these facts in conversations this Fourth of July, you can also print and distribute two of our Deism leaflets that deal with this topic. One is “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?” and the other is “Who Are You Going to Believe – George Washington or Pat Robertson???” Both Deism leaflets can be found here.
Bob Johnson is a freelance writer in the Tampa area of Florida. He was raised Roman Catholic, but after a stint in Marine Corps infantry and reading Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason he became a Deist.
In 1993 he founded the World Union of Deists, and in 1996 he launched the first website devoted to Deism. He is the author of God Gave Us Reason, Not Religion, Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You and An Answer to C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. He has also written the introduction to Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition and Principles of Nature by Elihu Palmer.