While Leon Wieseltier correctly notes that many of our Founding Fathers were deists, he makes a critical error when he says that deism was a form of Christianity ["The G-Word and the A-List," Style, July 12]. In fact, deism was to a large extent a rejection of Christianity. Among those Christian concepts foreign to deism were the divinity of Christ, supernatural mythology and original sin. Deism was a product of the Enlightenment, and its adherents held mankind in a much higher regard than did most practicing Christians. Its closest religious descendant is Unitarianism, and it has much more in common with secular humanism than with most of today's Christian sects.
Many Christians are fond of pointing out that the Declaration of Independence refers to our "Creator," as if this proves that America is a "Christian nation." They fail to realize that the term "Creator," as well as the reference to "Nature's God," were understood at the time as specific references to the deist concept of a non-interventionist God who had created the universe and then allowed it to run according to "Nature's Laws." Other religious references, such as "divine providence" and "Supreme Judge of the World" lend themselves to various interpretations and certainly can not be considered specifically Christian concepts.
If our Founding Fathers had not rejected the religious authoritarianism of Christianity, it would have been difficult to assert a moral justification for the Revolution. After all, it was the Christian God by whose grace King George III claimed the divine right to rule.
J. S. WHITE