This is a continuation about Jefferson and religion. As stated before, there are many especially in evangelical circles that say that Jefferson meant for our country to be founded on Christian principles. My posts on the blog are to show that although Jefferson was a follower of Jesus Christ at one level he was by no means saying the U.S. should be a Christian nation. In fact much of his writing said exactly the opposite. Here are some of his words about Christian clergy:
They [the clergy] 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. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion. -Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800
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 civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. -Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.
In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814 My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there. -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith, August, 6, 1816
It seems quite obvious from all these quotes that Jefferson did not trust the motives of the church of his times and from my studies I don’t think much has changed since those times. The man-made nature of the church often is polluted by the power structures of the times. This started in the fourth century when the Roman emperor Constantine hi-jacked the Christian church and made it a mandated religion. The structure of the church has been damaged since even that time.
While I don’t hold as adamant a view of the clergy that Jefferson did I can understand the logic he uses in his correspondence. I think this will conclude my discussions about Jefferson and religion. Next time I address the topic of Thomas Jefferson it will be on a different topic. I don’t believe that there is a person who has read my posts or other information about Jefferson and the church can continue to espouse that Jefferson, or any of the other founders for that matter, intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation. As Jefferson said the morality of Jesus was sound but the practice of religion is not.