A Fuller Picture of Jefferson's Beliefs - 09/05/2003
Though you may be able to bend some of Jefferson's views to your aims, surely his overwhelming conviction to the supremacy of reason over mysticism (leading to his rejection of the divinity of Christ) would have left him offended at such use in an efort to support what you profess under your website's section "Statement of Faith." Nor could he possibly approve of the promotion of Christian views over others, so obvious in your arguments for inserting "God" within in the public sphere. He must be spinning in his grave at your use of his views to support your own. What a fraud you inflict on the readers of your website.
"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg . . . . Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error."
Far from being a Christian, on June 25, 1819, he wrote to Ezra Stiles, "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."
See also: Sanford, Charles B., The Religious Life of Thomas Jefferson (Charlottesville: 1984), p. 28.
Regarding the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1777, he, "thought it a milestone because it gave freedom not only for Christian sects but for all beliefs including "The Jew, the Mahometan, and the Hindoo."
Consider also these Jefferson quotes:
"I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another:" Letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1799
"I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wish to change another's creed."
In a letter to Adams, Jefferson concluded about religion: "the result of your 50 or 60 years of religious reading, in four words 'be just and good' is that in which all our inquiries must end."
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Hi. Thanks for contacting Contender Ministries. You have completely misunderstood the point of the Jefferson article. The article was written not to show that Jefferson was a Christian. The point was to show that Jefferson favored freedom of religion, and was against any effort of the federal government to stifle that. The point was to show that secularists have long used Jefferson's "separation of church and state" phrase incorrectly to bully religious expression and acknowledgements of our Creator from the public square. I will grant you that Thomas Jefferson was one of the least religious of the founding fathers, but his words and actions obviously show that he believed in protecting religion from government, not government from religion. It's interesting that secularists not only extract his "wall of separation" phrase from his letter to the Danbury Baptist Associate and misinterpret it, but they also view that phrase as an interpretation of the first amendment. Jefferson was in FRANCE when the first amendment was drafted! If he is "spinning in his grave," it is no doubt from the twisting of his words that separationists use to try to protect people from any religious influence! You provided some Jefferson quotes, and I'd like to include a few others:
"A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian; that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus." - Thomas Jefferson, January 9, 1816 letter to Charles Thomson.
"My views...are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from the anti-christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others..." - Thomas Jefferson, April 21, 1803 letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush. [emphasis added]
"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever." - Thomas Jefferson, Query XVIII of his Notes on the State of Virginia; also engraved on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.
So Jefferson described himself as a "disciple of the doctrines of Jesus." One of those doctrines is found in John 14:6, "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" That is the basis of Christianity, and the basis of our statement of faith.
Take care to not impute your personal views to Thomas Jefferson. We do not pretend to do so, and make no claim that Jefferson would agree with our statement of faith. Nevertheless, as stated before, the point of the article you criticize is to show that Jefferson never intended to protect government from religion, only religion from government.
Sincerely, In Christ,
Ben and Jennifer Rast