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Deism

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Franklin later repudiated many of his earlier views and he believed in a God that "ought to be worshiped," and at the [[Constitutional Convention]] less than three years from his death [[Benjamin Franklin]] advocated public prayer. He praised [[Christianity]], but his letter to Ezra Stiles a month before his death was noncommittal as to the divinity of Jesus: <blockquote>"As to [[Jesus]] of [[Nazareth]], my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of Morals and His Religion as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see.. I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some doubt as to his Divinity; tho' it is a question I need not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect Soon an opportunity of knowing the Truth with less trouble. I see no harm in its being believed, if that belief has good consequences, as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed."</blockquote>
==George Washington==The leading Founder of the United States, George Washington, has been claimed as a deist during the past forty years, despite written evidence to the contrary, both in Washington's writings as well as the writings of his contemporaries. An Episcopalian, Washington rented church pews in various cities and acted as usher; the pew Washington rented at St. Paul's Chapel in New York City is still preserved<ref>http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60763-d105055-i36367014-St_Paul_s_Chapel-New_York_City_New_York.html</ref>. The tenents of his church during the 18th and 19th centuries were such that outward displays of piety and religiosity were avoided<ref>Novak, pg 12</ref>, in keeping with the Christian practice of Matthew 6:5: ''"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward."'' (King James Version). Anglican manners seek a "middle ground", which for all intents and purposes was a path that would find the least devisiveness, to avoid or give offense, to keep the peace, and yet to keep space open for shared ideas<ref>Novak, pg. 12</ref>. The rules for a "gentleman" stated that a "devout" man kept his devotion restrained in public; Washington himself was described by witnesses and biographers as such a man, one who kept his religion and beliefs private.
But when Washington did speak of religion and his faith, he strongly indicated which faith he was talking about. In May, 1789, he sent a letter to the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches: :''"While I reiterate the professions of my dependence upon Heaven as the source of all public and private blessings; I will observe that the general prevalence of piety; philanthropy, honesty, industry, and economy seems, in the ordinary course of human affairs, particularly necessary for advancing and conforming the happiness of our country. While all men within our territories and protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of their consciences; it is rationally to be expected from them in return, that they will be emulous of evincing the sanctity of their professions by the innocence of their lives and the beneficence of their actions; for no man, who is profligate in his morals, or a bad member of the civil community, can possibly be a true Christian, or a credit to his own religious society."''<ref>http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=392</ref> On May 12, 1779, while in the midst of the [[American Revolution]], Washington [[George Washington's Speech to the Delaware Chiefs|gave a speech]] to the Delaware Chiefs in which he gave the following advice::''"Brothers: I am glad you have brought three of the Children of your principal Chiefs to be educated with us. I am sure Congress will open the Arms of love to them, and will look upon them as their own Children, and will have them educated accordingly. This is a great mark of your confidence and of your desire to preserve the friendship between the Two Nations to the end of time, and to become One people with your Brethren of the United States. My ears hear with pleasure the other matters you mention. Congress will be glad to hear them too. You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do every thing they can to assist you in this wise intention; and to tie the knot of friendship and union so fast, that nothing shall ever be able to loose it."'' * "[[George Washington|Washington]] cannot be called a Deist — at least, not in a sense that excludes his being Christian. Although he did most often address God in the proper names a Deist might use — such as "Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be" and "Disposer of all human events" — the actions that Washington expected God to perform, as expressed both in his official public prayers (whether as general or as president) and in his private prayers as recorded, are the sorts of actions only the God of the Bible performs: interposing his actions in human events, forgiving sins, enlightening minds, bringing good harvests, intervening on behalf of one party in a struggle between good and evil (in this case, between liberty and the deprivation of liberty), etc." [<ref>http://wwwold.nationalreview.com/novak/novak200603140955novak.asp]</ref>
==Modern Deism==
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