[COMMENT: The following from www.AmericanMinute.com adds some fodder to the discussion on Jefferson's religious beliefs. His letters to John Adams show that he is a unitarian, not a trinitarian, but that he is firmly within the Biblical worldview framework, i.e., he believes, as indicated below, that we are both personally and corporately responsible before God, the Creator of heaven and earth.
In many cases, Adams and Jefferson for sure, Washington also, I suspect, people were reacting to the corruptions of Calvinism of the time, not to an intelligent and consistent interpretation of the Christian faith. They were reacting to a long history of coercion by both State and Church, often in collusion.
I would have sided with them on many points. The issue was even then the intellectual bankruptcy of so many Christians, their incapacity or unwillingness to meet the secular Enlightenment folks on an even playing field. You can see below his concern for freedom of mind. That was the primary issue.
Thanks be to God, there are Christians now who are beginning to take on the
secular and pagan arguments in the public arena, and doing a good job at it.
I expect much more of this as time goes on, and that the 21st century will be
quite different from the last two.
Jefferson's Article of Religious Freedom, which he
commemorated on his tombstone, was passed this day, January 16, 1786, in the
In it, Jefferson wrote:
"Almighty God hath created the mind free, and...all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments...tend only to begat habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to extend it by its influence on reason alone."
In his Second Inaugural Address, 1805, Jefferson wrote:
"In matters of religion I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General Government."
In 1808, Jefferson wrote to Samuel Miller:
"I consider the government of the United States as prohibited by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises...
Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets."
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