Sophistry. What this writer did was IGNORE the dictionary definition of deism, which follows:
Main Entry: de·ism
Pronunciation: 'dE-"i-z&m, 'dA-
Usage: often capitalized
: a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe
The Deists were not atheists at all--which is the theme around this article is built. It is suspect from the third paragraph on as a result.
Deists did not deny the existence of a Creator. In fact, they believed in God as the watchmaker, creating the universe but only occasionally intervening to amend the natural laws He penned.
From http://www.rain.org/homeschool/history/religious-history/religion-us-history-deists.html, the first link appearing you look up "Deism."
The term "Deism" originally referred to a belief in one deity, as contrasted with the belief in no God (Atheism) and belief in many Gods (Polytheism). During the later 17th century, "Deism" began to refer to forms of radical Christianity - belief systems that rejected miracles, revelation, and the inerrancy of the Bible. Currently, Deism is no longer associated with Christianity or any other established religion. Then, as now, Deism is not a religious movement in the conventional sense of the world. There is no Deistic network of places of worship, a priesthood or hierarchy of authority.
Deism was greatly influential among politicians, scientists and philosophers during the later 17th century and 18 century, in England, France Germany and the United States.
Early Deism was a logical outgrowth of the great advances in astronomy, physics, and chemistry that had been made by Bacon, Copernicus, Galileo, etc.
It was a small leap from rational study of nature to the application of the same techniques in religion.
Early Deists believed that the Bible contained important truths, but they rejected the concept that it was divinely inspired or inerrant.
They were leaders in the study of the Bible as a historical (rather than an inspired, revealed) document.
Lord Herbert of Cherbury (d. 1648) was one of the earliest proponents of Deism in England. In his book "De Veritate," (1624), he described the "Five Articles" of English Deists: belief in the existence of a single supreme God
humanity's duty to revere God
linkage of worship with practical morality
God will forgive us if we repent and abandon our sins
good works will be rewarded (and punishment for evil) both in life and after death
Other English Deists were Anthony Collins (1676-1729), Matthew Tindal (1657-1733). J.J. Rousseau (1712-1778) and F.M.A. de Voltaire (1694-1778) were its leaders in France.
Many of the leaders of the French and American revolutions followed this belief system, including John Quincy Adams, Ethan Allen, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison Thomas Paine, and George Washington.
Deists played a major role in creating the principle of separation of church and state, and the religious freedom clauses of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.
But here is an opposing view that some of those named above may be named a bit too hastily (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel02.html):
"Deism" is a loosely used term that describes the views of certain English and continental thinkers. These views attracted a following in Europe toward the latter part of the seventeenth century and gained a small but influential number of adherents in America in the late eighteenth century. Deism stressed morality and rejected the orthodox Christian view of the divinity of Christ, often viewing him as nothing more than a "sublime" teacher of morality. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are usually considered the leading American deists. There is no doubt that they subscribed to the deist credo that all religious claims were to be subjected to the scrutiny of reason. "Call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion," Jefferson advised. Other founders of the American republic, including George Washington, are frequently identified as deists, although the evidence supporting such judgments is often thin. Deists in the United States never amounted to more than a small percentage of an evangelical population.
Nonetheless, the question is, why is there such a haste to deny that any of these men were Deists? Deism is essentially dead as an organized religion, not least because it was dead as an organized religion to begin with. But this outright lying about what is accepted as truth by most historians (that "notable Founders" Jefferson and Adams were believers in this sect)--why? There are plenty of fundamentally religious forebears to choose from without making them up! Is it so galling to find that there were founders who were not only NOT fundamentalist but were rational Christian thinkers!?!?
I feel like I'm reading the Christian version of an activist homo site, but while they go back in time to point out homos, this goes back in time to debunk Deists.
Why do so many people feel like they have to have dead allies to have a good cause? There weren't many who believed Jesus was the Son of God before He walked the Earth, but it didn't stop the disciples from believing in Him. And millions of anti-Semites walked the Earth before Hitler rose to power.
Just having allies doesn't make you right. However, having made them up does make you wrong.
The battle is over. Now it's time to divvy up the spoils and argue over who's armies were decisive in the battle so their leaders can lay claim to positions of influence in the King's court. Perceived pedigree confers legitimacy.