I think it's safe to say that a lot of the Founding Fathers followed Deism. It is something that a lot of them believe in. In fact, it is one of the reasons a lot of them wanted to escape the oppressive nature of the crown. Some of them wanted the freedom of religious rights and freedoms.
The idea that science, observations of the natural world, and general existence are all proof of a creator is deism. Many of the founders were members of an organization known as the Freemasons. The Freemasons required then, and still require an acceptance of deism for membership. If the founding fathers were not true believers in deism, then they did a lot of lying to cover that disbelief up.
Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Paine, and (arguably) Washington were all deists. This country was not founded on Christian Values, partially as a result.
It is generally agreed that they all believed in a god, but not specifically the Christian god. This is surprising for the time, as 250 years ago, belief in a certain God of a religion was almost universal.
Many of the Founding Fathers including Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine and Alexander Hamilton were all influenced by the work of French philosopher Voltaire who believed Newtonian science can also explain how God's laws work. Deism embraces both science and religion, which is where reason came into being during the process of writing the Constitution of the United States of America. Many of our Founding Fathers weren't Christians--they were Deists! Surprised?
A majority of the founding fathers followed deism. This is because of the fact that a majority of the founding fathers were Christians. Christianity is a form of deism. Deism is simply the belief of a god. A major part of Christianity is that the tenants believe in a god.
I believe the religious foundations of the Founding Fathers is the most significant factor. As stated by Dr. Loraine Boettner in Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, “It is estimated that of the 3,000,000 Americans at the time of the American Revolution, 900,000 were of Scotch or Scotch-Irish origin, 600,000 were Puritan English, and 400,000 were German or Dutch Reformed. In addition to this the Episcopalians had a Calvinistic confession in their Thirty-nine Articles; and many French Huguenots also had comets this western world. Thus we see that about two-thirds of the colonial population had been trained in the school of Calvin.” Historical records provide us with the actual religious denominational affiliations of these men and were a matter of public record. According to John Eidsmoe in Christianity and the Constitution, among the delegates were 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, two Lutherans, two Dutch Reformed, two Methodists, two Roman Catholics, one unknown, and three deists. The deists were Williamson, Wilson, and Franklin. This record was made at a time when church membership required a sworn public confession of biblical faith. This implies that almost all involved in founding the constitution were living a form of Christian life. Most of these men were Calvinists.
We can see, Christianity was the common moral and intellectual influence shaping the Founding Father’s views on government from the country’s beginning. Specifically, many of them believed in Man’s fallen state and thus believed in Checks and balances as practiced by the Roman Republic. The Calvinists, as many of the Founding Fathers were, hold covenant theology. In Christianity and the Constitution, Eidsmoe states that “Calvinists not only believe civil government is ordained and established by God, they also believe the God has given civil government only limited authority. The same power that grants authority to government, also limits that authority.” This concept is a fundamental principle of our constitutional theory. The Founders also understood that a moral citizenry was fundamental. In a letter to Jefferson, John Adams writes, “Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell.”
George Washington's warnings in his Farewell Speech, September 19, 1796, were characteristic of the mainstream attitude:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports....And let us indulge with caution the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.
Eidsmoe, John. In Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1995.
"Religion and the Federal Government, Part 1 - Religion and the Founding of the American Republic | Exhibitions (Library of Congress)." Home | Library of Congress. Last modified June 4, 1998. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06.html#obj157.
"Religion and the Federal Government, Part 1 - Religion and the Founding of the American Republic | Exhibitions (Library of Congress)." Home | Library of Congress. Last modified June 4, 1998. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06.html#obj156.
The religions and beliefs of the Founding Fathers can easily be found on the Internet. The majority of the Founding Fathers fell under Protestant churches, while a few followed Deistic ideals. Thomas Paine is the only one that can be directly linked to Deism, although Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were both anti-clerical.