This weekend on Speaking of Faith Krista Tippett had an interesting interview with Jacob Needleman, philosopher and author of the book, The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders, well worth listening to.
Needleman, I think, brings some balance and perspective into the tendency to simply brush off most of the founders of the United States as Deists and men of the Enlightenment, and not Christians. There is much good to be said for them, in spite of the truth in such an assertion.
Needleman himself seems to champion the Enlightenment. He sees it as good, stating that knowledge leads to good actions. Nevertheless his point about how the founders saw democracy compared to how Americans look at democracy today is interesting. In terms of how they saw "happiness", and how rights entailed responsibility for them, contrasted to the "individualism" that can so characterize us today. Also interesting is how Needleman sees the vision of the founding fathers as being appropriate and helpful for the pluralistic society America finds itself in today. A pluralism that is inclusive of all the good in religions, an understanding that many of the founding fathers were more than aware of.
While this does not make some of the leaders in the "religious right" correct about their assertions of the Christianity of the founders, it does provide some balance so that we can see and appreciate their keen insights that in themselves lay the groundwork for a progression towards the realization of the ideals of democracy in the republic, of which they held dear.