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Was Thomas Jefferson a Deist or a Christian?

Paul 2008/01/25 18:32:50
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A debate about the principals upon which the United States of America were founded upon sparked this discussion.
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  • herschel 2008/01/25 23:20:29
    Christian
    herschel
    +5
    Thomas Jefferson...said, "The reason that Christianity is the best friend of government
    is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the Heart"

    Jefferson is even quoted as having said, "I am a Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ."

    “Thomas Jefferson & the 'wall of separation between church and state.'”
    The proof is abundant that this was not Jefferson's intent. For example, two days after Jefferson wrote his separation letter, he attended worship services in the U. S. Capitol where he heard the Rev. John Leland preach a sermon. (As President of the Senate, Jefferson had personally approved the use of the Capitol Building for Sunday worship services.) The many diaries of Members of Congress during that time confirm that during Jefferson's eight years, he faithfully attended church services in the Capitol.

    a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that stated “the United States will give annually for seven years one hundred dollars for the support of a priest” to minister to the Indians (i.e., federal funds for Christian evangelism!) Jefferson also signed presidential documents, closing them with the appellation, “In the Year of our Lord Christ.”

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  • ZAROVE 2012/04/17 11:35:15
    None of the above
    ZAROVE
    I put in none of the above. The reason is because the question is absurd. I know its a common claim that America's Foundign Fathers were Deists and not Christians, and that tis a long standing Internet debate, but its founded on a false premise.

    Deism is not a Religion. Deism is a Theological Opinion. Deism isnot in and of itself incompatable with all forms of Christianity. Deism as a Theological Position actually grew out of Calvinism, and many Calvinists were also Deists. Its not really True to think that if you zare a Deist you can't be a Christian.

    The entire question is predecated on there being Mutual Exclusivity in the terms, but this is not the case.
  • redbeard 2010/02/22 16:27:38
    None of the above
    redbeard
    +1
    The quote "The reason that Christianity is the best friend of Government is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart." is phony. According to Jefferson scholars, there is no record that Jefferson ever said it.

    By today's standards, Jefferson would be considered a Deist or a Unitarian. He most certainly was NOT a Christian.
  • Hammer 2009/04/28 19:28:25
    Christian
    Hammer
    Thomas Jefferson:
    “ The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.”
    "I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."
  • MkB 2008/12/08 07:47:15
    None of the above
    MkB
    +1
    President Thomas Jefferson was a Protestant. Jefferson was raised as an Episcopalian (Anglican). He was also influenced by English Deists and has often been identified by historians as a Deist. He held many beliefs in common with Unitarians of the time period, and sometimes wrote that he thought the whole country would become Unitarian. He wrote that the teachings of Jesus contain the "outlines of a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man." Wrote: "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."

    http://www.adherents.com/peop...
  • ACB4Values~Extreme Patriot 2008/12/07 08:47:46
    Christian
    ACB4Values~Extreme Patriot
    "I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others." Thomas Jefferson

    "I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ." Thomas Jefferson

    Listen to the words of the man himself. There are many other quotes on the website: http://www.wallbuilders.com/L...
  • Charles 2008/09/09 06:59:45 (edited)
  • Lyssa 2008/04/20 03:41:12 (edited)
    Undecided
    Lyssa
    +1
    He was a (successfull) politician so it's anyone's guess what he really believed. For all we know he could have sold his soul to the devil to be so well-liked (I'm kidding...)
  • Smokey 2008/02/21 00:39:42
    Undecided
    Smokey
    +2
    As a fellow Mason, I will not talk publically bad about Thomas Jefferson. But as a Black person, I feel that he made the population higher with mixed black folks than any other person that was President. Dang, he had alot of kids. :) That's why there are so many Black folks with last names of Jefferson. :)
  • Jwalden --- Constitution Party 2008/02/20 15:32:40 (edited)
    Christian
    Jwalden --- Constitution Party
    +2
    http://www.wallbuilders.com/L...
    The standard assertion is that the Founders were deists. Deists? What is a deist? In dictionaries like Websters, Funk & Wagnalls, Century, and others, the terms “deist,” “agnostic,” and “atheist” appear as synonyms. Therefore, the range of a deist spans from those who believe there is no God, to those who believe in a distant, impersonal creator of the universe, to those who believe there is no way to know if God exists.
    http://www.wallbuilders.com/L...

    When Washington D. C. became the national capital in 1800, Congress voted that the Capitol building would also serve as a church building. President Jefferson chose to attend church each Sunday at the Capitol and even provided the service with paid government musicians to assist in its worship. Jefferson also began similar Christian services in his own Executive Branch, both at the Treasury Building and at the War Office.

    Jefferson praised the use of a local courthouse as a meeting place for Christian services;

    Jefferson assured a Christian religious school that it would receive “the patronage of the government”;

    Jefferson proposed that the Great Seal of the United States depict a story from the Bible and include the word “God” in its motto;
    While President, Jefferson closed his presid...




    http://www.wallbuilders.com/L...
    The standard assertion is that the Founders were deists. Deists? What is a deist? In dictionaries like Websters, Funk & Wagnalls, Century, and others, the terms “deist,” “agnostic,” and “atheist” appear as synonyms. Therefore, the range of a deist spans from those who believe there is no God, to those who believe in a distant, impersonal creator of the universe, to those who believe there is no way to know if God exists.
    http://www.wallbuilders.com/L...

    When Washington D. C. became the national capital in 1800, Congress voted that the Capitol building would also serve as a church building. President Jefferson chose to attend church each Sunday at the Capitol and even provided the service with paid government musicians to assist in its worship. Jefferson also began similar Christian services in his own Executive Branch, both at the Treasury Building and at the War Office.

    Jefferson praised the use of a local courthouse as a meeting place for Christian services;

    Jefferson assured a Christian religious school that it would receive “the patronage of the government”;

    Jefferson proposed that the Great Seal of the United States depict a story from the Bible and include the word “God” in its motto;
    While President, Jefferson closed his presidential documents with the phrase, “In the year of our Lord Christ; by the President; Thomas Jefferson.”

    Furthermore, Jefferson would especially disagree with those who believe that public prayers should be non-sectarian and omit specific references to Jesus. Jefferson believed that every individual should pray according to his own beliefs. As Jefferson explained:
    [The] liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will [is] a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support. (emphasis added)
    Critics, therefore, would be particularly troubled by President Jefferson’s words that:
    No nation has ever existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example.
    (more)
  • littlebuffalo55TBA 2008/02/20 08:39:28
    Deist
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    +1
    Absolutly Hilarious to watch how you work in anyway to "Hang" Christain on this guy! If Buddha had written the Declaration you poor sods would be lost! Jews believe Jesus was a great profit as even the Muslims do. So that makes them Christian Jews? Or Christain Muslims? Too Funny!
  • Paul littleb... 2008/04/22 22:43:16
    Paul
    If Budda had written the declaration we would be a nation founded on the principles of Buddism. We would admit that we were a Buddist nation and not condemn anything remotely Buddist. This debate stems from a previous one debating whether or not this nation was founded upon the principles of Christianity.
    It's meant to spark debate...not to hang labels. I understand that this country is meant to be free to all religions, but if not even for historical value and cultural preservation, why take "God" out of everything?
  • littleb... Paul 2008/04/23 03:40:00
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    +1
    Deists believe in God as Budhists do! He and Thomas Paine and others were not Christian as they do not believe in miracles or the Triune! Simple!
  • Paul littleb... 2008/04/23 16:17:12
    Paul
    All Christian's do not believe that miracles still happen, although I'm not defending either side...
    He very well may have been an atheist/agnostic/deist.. Overall my argument that no matter his religious beliefs (or lack of) He agreed that this nation should be founded upon the principles of Christianity. Because of that, i think we should still honor that today. thus "one nation under god" should remain if for nothing other that historical and cultural preservation.
  • littleb... Paul 2008/04/23 21:22:14
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    +1
    No......he never said the god he believed in was Christian! Christians usurped that he meant it for them! He meant it for All! I am in noway dishonoring it! The point is he was very aware thet Christians are NOT the only ones who see God. And if you do not believe in Christs "miracles" such as the ressurection then you are not Christian! Once again: A Diest believes in God just in a more scientific way so thats why no "miracles" or "trinity" for them. The point being that basic human rights and the laws that guide that are definately part of Judeo/Christian thought and history and that's good for all mankind. But the idea that they are the only ones who see those basic rights is just not so! Some of the most morale people I have ever met are Athiest or of other Faiths!
  • Artus Register 2008/02/14 19:16:10
    Deist
    Artus Register
    +1
    The most brief review of jefforson's religious writings leave little doubt that he was an ardent deist, though he didn't use the word.
  • Brianna 2008/02/05 22:18:14
    None of the above
    Brianna
    +1
    The correct term would probably be a "Christian Deist" He did believe in God, he read the bible, and he does talk about God, however he is probably one of the least religious of the founding fathers.
  • littleb... Brianna 2008/02/20 08:27:49
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    How can you be a Christian if you do not believe in the Triune, Prophacy or miracles? Please realise what a Deist is!
  • Derek littleb... 2008/02/21 10:53:57
  • littleb... Derek 2008/02/21 18:16:48
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    You mean you realise he is not a Christian but accept him as a good man?
  • Derek littleb... 2008/02/21 18:19:49 (edited)
  • littleb... Derek 2008/02/21 18:53:05
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    +2
    He follows? No his ideas led! No doubt brilliant! He I am sure used the teachings of Jesus as a guide but it is important to note he did not see Jesus as the Son of God! He followed morals any good man should aspire to wether they believe in a supreme being or not.
  • Derek littleb... 2008/02/21 19:03:27
  • littleb... Derek 2008/02/21 19:06:42
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    +1
    Why Thankyou! I'm so proud you get a "Rave"......lol!
  • Backlashjack 2008/01/26 06:24:11
    Christian
    Backlashjack
    +4
    Read his letters.
  • Daria 2008/01/26 05:18:43
    Deist
    Daria
    +1
    totaly
  • Derek 2008/01/26 04:13:27
  • herschel 2008/01/25 23:20:29
    Christian
    herschel
    +5
    Thomas Jefferson...said, "The reason that Christianity is the best friend of government
    is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the Heart"

    Jefferson is even quoted as having said, "I am a Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ."

    “Thomas Jefferson & the 'wall of separation between church and state.'”
    The proof is abundant that this was not Jefferson's intent. For example, two days after Jefferson wrote his separation letter, he attended worship services in the U. S. Capitol where he heard the Rev. John Leland preach a sermon. (As President of the Senate, Jefferson had personally approved the use of the Capitol Building for Sunday worship services.) The many diaries of Members of Congress during that time confirm that during Jefferson's eight years, he faithfully attended church services in the Capitol.

    a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that stated “the United States will give annually for seven years one hundred dollars for the support of a priest” to minister to the Indians (i.e., federal funds for Christian evangelism!) Jefferson also signed presidential documents, closing them with the appellation, “In the Year of our Lord Christ.”
  • Derek herschel 2008/01/26 04:12:25
  • herschel Derek 2008/01/28 16:19:43
    herschel
    +1
    Please email me a qoute from Jefferson wher he says he did not believe that Jesus was a God.

    Herschel55@aol.com
  • Derek herschel 2008/01/29 06:15:16
  • Carol 2008/01/25 20:57:34
    Undecided
    Carol
    i don;t know but i always thought he was anyway
    "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. "
    Thomas Jefferson
    "It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read. "
    Thomas Jefferson
    but some of his other stuff qestions it so maybe he wasen't sure
  • Deist
    Freedomwatcher ☮ R P ☮ 2012 ☮
    He was a Christian Deist. He believed in the moral principles of God, but did not believe Jesus was the son of God.
  • herschel Freedom... 2008/01/25 23:21:10
    herschel
    +3
    Thomas Jefferson...said, "The reason that Christianity is the best friend of government
    is because Christianity is the only religion that changes the Heart"

    Jefferson is even quoted as having said, "I am a Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ."

    “Thomas Jefferson & the 'wall of separation between church and state.'”
    The proof is abundant that this was not Jefferson's intent. For example, two days after Jefferson wrote his separation letter, he attended worship services in the U. S. Capitol where he heard the Rev. John Leland preach a sermon. (As President of the Senate, Jefferson had personally approved the use of the Capitol Building for Sunday worship services.) The many diaries of Members of Congress during that time confirm that during Jefferson's eight years, he faithfully attended church services in the Capitol.

    a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that stated “the United States will give annually for seven years one hundred dollars for the support of a priest” to minister to the Indians (i.e., federal funds for Christian evangelism!) Jefferson also signed presidential documents, closing them with the appellation, “In the Year of our Lord Christ.”
  • Freedom... herschel 2008/01/25 23:29:58
    Freedomwatcher ☮ R P ☮ 2012 ☮
    +1
    I know he also said, “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”

    He was a Christian deist because he saw Christianity as the highest expression of natural religion and Jesus as an incomparably great moral teacher. He was not an orthodox Christian because he rejected, among other things, the doctrines that Jesus was the promised Messiah and the incarnate Son of God. Jefferson's religion is fairly typical of the American form of deism in his day.

    Ken had a pretty good explaination of it in the comment below. Need I not repeat his lines.
  • littleb... Freedom... 2008/02/20 08:31:09
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    Lol.....If you do not believe Jesus as the son of God you are NOT Christian! HELLO!!!
  • Freedom... littleb... 2008/02/20 12:40:19
    Freedomwatcher ☮ R P ☮ 2012 ☮
    Hello!!! Study a little history before you run your mouth!!! This is not about whether Jefferson fit "our" defintion of what a Christian is...Jefferson had beliefs from Christianity, Deism, Paganism, and even Muslim, he studied them all as should everyone. During his time his beliefs were referred to as Christian Deism.

    What you are saying sounds just like if I said, "If you believe in the death penalty, you are not Christian!" Thou shall not kill....... Right?

    Don't get me wrong, I stand personally in the belief that Jesus is the son of God.
  • littleb... Freedom... 2008/02/20 20:36:31
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    Whatever! The point is he was a Deist! They do not belive in the Triune! They also do not believe in prophacy or miracles. Hence he believed is God but was not Christian anymore then a person of the Jewish Faith! And I read "The Age of Reason" have you?
  • Freedom... littleb... 2008/02/20 22:35:22
    Freedomwatcher ☮ R P ☮ 2012 ☮
    Yes! Thomas Paine bestseller... Then you understand the argument.. so why are we arguing over this? What's your point? Is it because you don't agree Thomas Jefferson was an orthodox Christian? I don't think he was either, but his writings are very inspirational... and the foundations on which this country was built.
  • littleb... Freedom... 2008/02/20 22:54:15
    littlebuffalo55TBA
    +1
    Yes! Very simply he was not! I agree his writings were astounding! I think that he respected others beliefs and that he knew and forsaw zealots come in many styles Nazis, Jihadists, Khmer Rouge, Christian Extremists........to name a few. The idea that there are some who just cannot see that him not being a Christian was really no threat at all! He was bigger than that!
  • Freedom... littleb... 2008/02/20 23:08:05
    Freedomwatcher ☮ R P ☮ 2012 ☮
    +1
    Yes.... he was bigger than most people know. How could I say this any better... I agree!!!

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