"True piety in a reasonable world is the pursuit of happiness through the improvement of the understanding. Call it the religion of freedom."
That's Matthew Stewart on Nature's God, whose subject is the hybrid Epicurean-Lockean-Spinozist conception that informed the Deist worldview of Jefferson, Franklin, and most of the founding generation. It casts a very different light on the claim that they intended to forge a conventionally Christian nation, and puts to shame the restrictive pieties of people like Mike Pence - people who think they know God's "heart" to exclude women's reproductive freedom.
Of course, a world in which people like Mike Pence and his unspeakable sponsor ("this good man" he repeatedly called him in their 60 Minutes interview, hahaha) ascend to wide public notice, let alone actual power and influence, can hardly be called reasonable.
But if it matters what the founders said and meant, as conservatives insist it does, it's clear that the ticket about to be punched in Cleveland does not come close to embodying true piety.
And, for those of us working our way through The Cave and the Light, it's clearly misleading to suggest that Jefferson and Madison were or would be on the side of those who misuse religion as license to limit personal freedom.
6 am, 5:46, 73/96