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. Thomas Jefferson The third president of the United States was Thomas Jefferson.

He had
been the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious
Freedom. In an age of great men Jefferson was remarkable for his wide-ranging curiosity on
many subjects. He helped the United States get started, and his plans for the future helped it
grow. Many of the good things Americans enjoy today have come from Jefferson's devotion to
human rights. Jefferson is often called the founder of the Democratic party. Many other groups
also claim to follow his principles. He developed the theory of states' rights, which was against
giving much authority to the federal government. He is known to everyone as the author of the
ringing statement in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal, that among
their inalienable rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. His writings have stood as a
torch to the defenders of individual freedom, in spiritual as well as in worldly affairs. .

Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe

Copyright 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Thomas Jefferson, because he was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the
embodiment of our nation's expressions of freedom, is the Founding Father who is most often
claimed by the Christians as one of their own. Unfortunately-- for them-- he left behind many
writings which lead us to conclude that his beliefs were quite different from those of the
common christian. The claim that Thomas Jefferson was a Christian can only be made by
someone who has never read his original writings. Christians may think that just because he
mentions "god", that makes him a Christian just like them. Jefferson absolutely believed in a
god-- but not the god of orthodox Christianity. He was a Deist (Nature's God), not a Christian
(the trinitarian God of Abraham and Isaac).

Thomas Jefferson did not believe in the Trinity, and he said so:
"The hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus, with one body and
three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs." -Letter to James Smith, December 8, 1822
"It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic
mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and
the three are not one: to divide mankind by a single letter into ["consubstantialists and likesubstantialists"]. But this constitutes the craft, the power and the profit of the priests. Sweep
away their gossamer fabrics of factitious religion, and they would catch no more flies. We should
all then, like the quakers, live without an order of priests, moralise for ourselves, follow the
oracle of conscience, and say nothing about what no man can understand, nor therefore believe;
for I suppose belief to be the assent of the mind to an intelligible proposition." -- Jefferson's
Letter to John Adams, August 22, 1813
(John Adams' reply to this letter shows that he did not believe in the Trinity either): "The
human understanding is a revelation from its maker, which can never be disputed

or doubted. There can be no scepticism, Pyrrhonism, or incredulity or infidelity here. No

prophecies, no miracles are necessary to prove this celestical communication. This revelation
has made it certain that two and one make three, and that one is not three nor can
three be one. We can never be so certain of any prophecy, or the fulfilment of any prophecy, or
of any miracle, or the design of any miracle, as we are from the revelation of nature, that is,
nature's God, that two and two are equal to four." --Adam's Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 14
September 1813

Thomas Jefferson did not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, and he said
"And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme
being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the
generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason
and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding,
and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of
human errors." -- Jefferson's letter to John Adams, April 11 1823
Jefferson was a rationalist. He believed that Jesus was a pure and ethical teacher of morals. To
that end, Jefferson took a razor to the New Testament and removed passages he thought to have
been inserted by the authors of the gospels (whom he called the "commentators"), and he pasted
what remained together as "The Jefferson Bible". With his razor blade, he removed every
verse dealing with the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, claims of Jesus' divinity
and other puerile superstition, thus leaving us with a very much shorter book. In 1904, the
Jefferson Bible was printed by order of Congress, and for many years was presented to all newly
elected members of that body.
"No one sees with greater pleasure than myself the progress of reason in its advances
towards rational Christianity. When we shall have done away the incomprehensible jargon of the
Trinitarian arithmetic, that three are one, and one is three; when we shall have knocked down
the artificial scaffolding, raised to mask from view the simple structure of Jesus; when, in short,
we shall have unlearned everything which has been taught since His day, and get back to the
pure and simple doctrines He inculcated, we shall then be truly and worthily His disciples; and
my opinion is that if nothing had ever been added to what flowed purely from His lips, the whole
world would at this day have been Christian. I know that the case you cite, of Dr. Drake, has
been a common one. The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of
Jesus, so muffled them in mysticisms, fancies and falsehoods, have caricatured them into
forms so monstrous and inconceivable, as to shock reasonable thinkers, to revolt
them against the whole, and drive them rashly to pronounce its Founder an imposter. Had there
never been a commentator, there never would have been an infidel." -- Jefferson's Letter to
Timothy Pickering, 21 Feb 1821
"The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.
1. That there is one only God, and he all perfect.
2. That there is a future state of rewards and punishments.
3. That to love God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself, is the sum of religion.
These are the great points on which he endeavored to reform the religion of the Jews. But
compare with these the demoralizing dogmas of Calvin:

1. That there are three Gods.

2. That good works, or love of our neighbor, are nothing.
3. That faith is every thing, and the more incomprehensible the proposition, the more merit in
the faith.
4. That reason in religion is of unlawful use.
5. That God, from the beginning, elected certain individuals to be saved, and certain others to be
damned; and that no crimes of the former can damn them; no virtues of the latter save.
Now, which of these is the true and charitable Christian? He who believes and acts on the simple
doctrines of Jesus? Or the impious dogmatists, as Athanasius and Calvin? Verily I say these are
the false shepherds fortold as to enter not by the door into the sheepfold, but to climb up some
way. They are mere usurpers of the Christian name, teaching a counter-religion made up of the
deliria of crazy imaginations, as foreign from Christianity as is that of Mohomet. Their
blasphemies have driven thinking men into infidelity, who have too hastily rejected the
supposed author himself, with the horrors so falsely imputed to him. Had the doctrines of Jesus
been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would now
have been Christian. I rejoice that in this blessed country of free inquiry and belief, which has
surrendered its creed and conscience to neither kings nor priests, the genuine doctrine of one
only God is reviving, and I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States
who will not die an Unitarian." --Jefferson's letter to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, June 26 1822
Jefferson was called an ATHEIST by Christian ministers of his day, who tried to block his
presidency! How can Christians claim him now as one of them, now that he's dead?!
"As to the calumny of Atheism, I am so broken to calumnies of every kind, from every
department of government, Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary, and from every minion of
theirs holding office or seeking it, that I entirely disregard it, and from Chace it will have less
effect than from any other man in the United States. It has been so impossible to contradict all
their lies, that I have determined to contradict none; for while I should be engaged with one,
they would publish twenty new ones." -- Jefferson's Letter to James Monroe, May 26, 1800
The most famous out of context religious quote of Thomas Jefferson is to be found in the
Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. Around the rotunda of the Jefferson Memorial, in large
gold letters, is the quote: I HAVE SWORN UPON THE ALTAR OF GOD, ETERNAL
was taken, completely out of context from a letter that Jefferson wrote to Dr. Benjamin Rush
September 23, 1800. The quote put in its original context says just the opposite of the pious
sentiment it is made to say. In his letter to Dr. Rush Jefferson is talking about the Christian
clergy who were working against his being elected President by saying Jefferson was an infidel.
The complete quote says: The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their
(the Christian clergy) hopes, and they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be
exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar
of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. So we see that in
his letter Jefferson is saying that the tyranny over the mind of man that he is opposed to are

the schemes of the Christian clergy, and the god he is referring to is the god of Deism, not the
god of the Christians.
"If by religion we are to understand sectarian dogmas, in which no two of them agree, then your
exclamation on that hypothesis is just, "that this would be the best of all possible worlds,
if there were no religion in it." But if the moral precepts, innate in man, and made a part of
his physical constitution, as necessary for a social being, if the sublime doctrines of
philanthropism and deism taught us by Jesus of Nazareth, in which all agree, constitute true
religion, then, without it, this would be, as you again say, "something not fit to be named even,
indeed, a hell." -- Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, May 5, 1817

Thomas Jefferson did not believe that Jesus was God, and he said so:
"The office of reformer of the superstitions of a nation is ever dangerous. Jesus had to walk on
the perilous confines of reason and religion; and a step to right or left might place Him within
the grasp of the priests of the superstition, a bloodthirsty race, as cruel and remorseless as
the Being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the
local God of Israel. They were constantly laying snares, too, to entangle Him in the web of the
law. He was justifiable, therefore, in avoiding these by evasions, by sophisms, by
misconstructions and misapplications of scraps of the prophets, and in defending Himself with
these their own weapons, as sufficient, ad homines, at least. That Jesus did not mean to
impose Himself on mankind as the Son of God, physically speaking, I have been
convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in the lore." -- Thomas Jefferson's
letter to William Short, August 4, 1820

To claim that Jefferson was a Christian is outright dishonest. He was a

MATERIALIST, and he said so:
"But while this syllabus is meant to place the character of Jesus in its true light, as no imposter
himself, but a great reformer of the Hebrew code of religion, it is not to be understood
that I am with him in all his doctrines. I am a materialist; he takes the side of spiritualism;
he preaches the efficacy of repentance towards forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of
good works to redeem it." -- letter to William Short, April 13, 1820; Definition of a Materialist:
"In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance
with the despot ... they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery
and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purpose."
- to Horatio Spafford, March 17, 1814
"Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been
burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity. What
has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half
hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."
- "Notes on Virginia"

"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched.
Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with
boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the
homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
- letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787
"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil
government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as
religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose."
- to Baron von
Humboldt, 1813
"On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the
beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one
another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond
the comprehension of the human mind."
- to Carey, 1816
"Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a
common censor over each other. Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women
and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned;
yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion?
To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all
over the earth." --Notes on Virginia.
"Creeds have been the bane of the Christian church ... made of Christendom a slaughterhouse."
- to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822
"It has been fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and then I considered it merely the
ravings of a maniac."
"They [preachers] dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and
scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live."

"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our
particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables
and mythology."
"We discover in the gospels a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of
superstition, fanaticism and fabrication ."
"No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry
whatsoever." -Virginia Act for Religious Freedom
"... I am not afraid of priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious
whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering. I have contemplated their order from the
Magi of the East to the Saints of the West and I have found no difference of character, but of
more or less caution, in proportion to their information or ignorance on whom their interested
duperies were to be played off. Their sway in New England is indeed formidable. No mind
beyond mediocrity dares there to develop itself."
- letter to Horatio Spofford, 1816
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it
does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my
pocket nor breaks my leg."
"Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law."
Cooper, 1814

-letter to Dr. Thomas

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance
with the despot.... they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery
and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purpose."
- to Horatio Spafford, March 17, 1814
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he
owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of
government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that
act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law

respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a
wall of separation between church and State."
-letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT "The Complete Jefferson" by Saul K.
Padover, pp 518-519