Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian

A commenter responded to my post involving the separation of church and state here, and cited Thomas Jefferson's buying of bibles for the Washington D.C. schools as proof that the Founding Fathers would have supported the teaching of 'intelligent design'.

Ok, ignore the amazing leap of logic, but look at what else Jefferson said about religion. I've lifted my response in full:

Where to begin?

I don't know if you should rely on Jefferson for your 'intelligent design' theory.

Doing a quick google of Jefferson brought up these quotes:
"Jefferson, at 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence. In years following he labored to make its words a reality in Virginia. Most notably, he wrote a bill establishing religious freedom, enacted in 1786."
Religious freedom. That means being able to practice your own religion and not have someone else's religion forced upon you, right?

"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."
— Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782
"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."
— Thomas Jefferson

"In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to Liberty."
— Thomas Jefferson

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."
— Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

"It is between fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac."
— Thomas Jefferson

"The Christian God is a being of terrific character — cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust."
— Thomas Jefferson

"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."
— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, 1823
Bibles have been included as reading material in many schools. I took a Bible class in college. But it was just that: a BIBLE class, not a science class. Classical scholars read the bible because literature is saturated with references and quotes from the book. Using a bible as a reference book or a book to teach reading or as a book to teach Christianity does not make the leap to 'intelligent design' in science classes.

Science is different than faith and has an entirely different process. 'Intelligent design' belongs in the church, not in a school.

Besides...which 'intelligent design' do you assume will be taught in the public schools? Hindu? Muslim? Catholic?

Why on earth do you presume the religion that would be shoehorned in with the 'intelligent design' concepts would be yours?

Do you know how many religions we have here in the United States? Once you've opened the door to a state sponsored teaching of religion, we will have struggles for power between the churches to claim their version is the correct one. Europe is a standing example of such battles.

Do you really want to activate that? Do you realize the separation between church and state has allowed all Americans to live side by side in harmony?

Is that what you really want, a holy war? Don't answer. It's obvious.


mahakal said...

I call for a holy peace. How's that idea?

Steve Bates said...

A great improvement, Michael; a GREAT improvement. To your call for a holy peace, I'll add a call for an "unholy" peace (better described, a secular peace), and I think between the two of us we'll have the matter of peace completely covered. As for war, there is no such thing as holy war: all war is unholy... especially war pursued in the name of holiness.

The entire notion of government involvement in religion is an insult to the secular and the sacred alike, the latter because it is inevitably deeply personal, the former because it belongs to all of us. For a long time, most Americans agreed to separate church and state as intrinsically vastly different human spheres of knowledge and activity. What happened? Where did the dominionists come from, anyway?

ellroon said...

The smell of power, of dealings on Capitol Hill, the easing of restrictions for federal funding for faith-based program activities has brought them out of the woodwork. You can just see Dobson and Robinson (and Falwell) drooling over how to carve off the biggest piece for themselves.

Probably more people had died in the name of God than any other reason. God forbid.

Anonymous said...

You can't understand many references in English language literature and rhetoric that follows the Elizabethans if you have not read the King James Version of the Bible. There are thousands of translation errors known to be in the KJV, but it is the most quoted source in English letters.

Thomas Jefferson started the Library of Congress with his personal collection, thought to be the largest in the New World at the time. The only book that was available in any quantity for years after the founding of the United States was the KJV, so it would be the obvious choice for a school, until text books began to appear much later in the 19th century.

Family Bibles were the official records of their day, listing births, deaths and marriages before official record keeping was established, and are still regarded by courts as valid records.

As my earliest ancestors in this country were escaping from religious wars [not necessarily religious persecution] in the Netherlands and German Palantine, I am not inclined to advocate for those wars in this supposed refuge from such madness.

When church and state mix, church always loses. The people who advocate for tearing down the wall don't want to be saints, they want to be kings.

ellroon said...

The people who advocate for tearing down the wall don't want to be saints, they want to be kings.

Well said, sir! Amen!

Anonymous said...

Thomas jefferson was a a secret muslim and practised polygamy. They just found out that his ancestors were arabs.

ellroon said...

This hilarious comment deserves its own post.