Author Topic: In The Words Of Thomas Jefferson  (Read 944 times)

Offline stromboli

In The Words Of Thomas Jefferson
« on: May 10, 2015, 01:56:51 AM »
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Say nothing of my religion. It is known to my god and myself alone.

I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.

Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.

What all agree upon is probably right; what no two agree in most probably is wrong.

Religious Liberty

Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that ... of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Reply to Baptist Address, 1807

From the dissensions among Sects themselves arise necessarily a right of choosing and necessity of deliberating to which we will conform. But if we choose for ourselves, we must allow others to choose also, and so reciprocally, this establishes religious liberty.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers, 1:545

The rights [to religious freedom] are of the natural rights of mankind, and ... if any act shall be ... passed to repeal [an act granting those rights] or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 2:546 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)

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.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82 (capitalization of the word god is retained per original; see Positive Atheism's Historical Section)

Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward 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.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

I know it will give great offense to the clergy, but the advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Levi Lincoln, 1802. ME 10:305

I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this [that a bookseller is prosecuted for selling books advocatig what was then presumed by the status quo to be pseudoscience] can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offence against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason.
     If M de Becourt's book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God's sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose....

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to N G Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller (1814), after being prosecuted for selling de Becourt's book, Sur la Création du Monde, un Systême d'Organisation Primitive, which Jefferson himself had purchased (check Positive Atheism's Historical library for a copy of the entire letter).

[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
-- Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779), quoted from Merrill D Peterson, ed, Thomas Jefferson: Writings (1984), p. 347

I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1799 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)

I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803

Short Grapic Rule

The 'Wall of Separation,' Again:
Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.
     We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320. This is his second kown use of the term "wall of separation," here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter. This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause: Reynolds (98 US at 164, 1879); Everson (330 US at 59, 1947); McCollum (333 US at 232, 1948)

Short Grapic Rule

Supreme Court: Clause erects 'Wall of Separation'

In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation' between church and state.

-- Hugo Black, Everson v. Board of Education (1947)

Btw, Everson vs The Board Of Education (1947) is where we get the establishment of the separation of church and state at the state level. Previously it was applicable only at the federal level. Read more here:
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By all means read the rest of the article. There is considerably more there.

The next time you hear/see a theist insisting that the U.S. is a Christian nation or hear/see the statement that the country should be a theocracy, give them these. Thomas Jefferson was arguably the key figure in the founding of this nation, in terms of what we practice both legally and philosophically.

Also this:
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He defined himself as an Epicurean:
As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurian. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, Oct. 31, 1819

And this of science:
Priests...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.
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Correa de Serra, April 11, 1820

One of the great men and thinkers of history. And one of the most eminently quotable. And yes, I know he borrowed from John Locke and others, but his words are among the most succinct and on the mark as any man who ever spoke or wrote.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 02:03:38 AM by stromboli »
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Offline Hydra009

Re: In The Words Of Thomas Jefferson
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2015, 02:18:02 AM »
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login  If I had been exposed to that version in church instead of the NIV and KJV versions, I would probably still consider myself religious.  Plus, it makes for an extremely concise and clear read.

[On the burial of Jesus]

THE Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

2 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.

3 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:

4 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

5 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

6 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

7 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

8 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein never man yet laid.

9 There laid they Jesus: and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
Jesus was killed and buried.  The end.


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