A few snips from this long and frightening article:
Liberals like to point out that many of the Founders were not ... Christian but ... deists or downright unbelievers. Fundamentalists respond by trotting out the Founders’ most pious words, of which there are many (Franklin proposing prayer at the Constitutional Convention; Washington thanking God for His direct hand in revolutionary victories; etc., etc.).
… William J. Federer's … America’s God and Country — a collection of apparently theocentric [quotations] distilled from the Founders and other great men “for use in speeches, papers, [and] debates” — has sold half a million copies. “Those who control the past,” Federer said, quoting Orwell’s 1984, “control the future.”
Federer and I were riding together in a white school bus full of Christians ... to pray [where] the Danbury, Connecticut, First Baptist Church once stood. It was in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists that Thomas Jefferson first used the phrase “wall of separation.” [It was on the basis of these] three words [that] the battle over whether the United States is to be a Christian nation or a cosmopolitan one turns. Federer, leaning over the back of his seat as several pastors bent their ears toward his story, wanted me to understand that what Jefferson—notorious deist and author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom—had really meant to promote was a “one-way wall,” designed to protect the church from the state....”
“‘Those who control the present,’” Federer continued his quotation of 1984, “‘control the past.’” He paused and stared at me to make sure I understood the equation. “Orson Welles wrote that,” he said.