"[My views on Christianity] are the result of a life of inquiry & reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other."
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Apr. 21, 1803
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
Jefferson's views were most common among the American founding fathers. Funny that the usual preachers who comment on these quotes decided to keep quiet this time around.
 -- E Archer, NYC     
    Jefferson's is a quite sensible approach. Corruption is not desirable wherever it appears and ought to be rejected in government, religion, or anything else. Paul agreed. He said, "Follow me as I follow Christ." That would seem to imply that you should not follow him if he did not. I'd better stop now. Wouldn't want to get all preachy.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    I just got this, I wish it had been earlier in the day. I've not seen this quote before, its excellent. It is contrary to what I've heard Pastors and ecclesiastically active atheists say about Jefferson's beliefs.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    What I like most about Jefferson was his clear and concise way of speaking. He explains something here that I've tried to put into words a hundred times and never been able to. The religious organizations of the west, especially the Catholics have been suffering a general ridicule from the media sector by way of pointing out every flaw, major or minor, without ever showing anything to the good side, like community based charity. We could use a few like Jefferson today.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Bet the Diests didn't like that.
     -- warren, olathe     
    As a United Methodist pastor, I say "Amen!" to President Jefferson and his thoughtful and insightful reasoning on the essence of true and authentic faith. I add: Jefferson left out one of his most admirable assets in this quote.....REASON! He was given the unique ability to reason. He chose "faith" while some choose Secular Humanism or atheism.
     -- Rev. Len Ripley, Charleston, SC     
    Note that the great thinker clearly states that Jesus did NOT claim to be anything more than human. Of course this idea was put down by force of arms by the "christians" - after the Roman emporers "converted" and made "christianity" the state religion. Like Jefferson, I prefer to follow the true teachings of the man known today as Jesus.
     -- Sean, Greenville, SC     
     -- Marie, Alabama      
    Thomas Jefferson may have been the wisest of the founding fathers.
     -- Justin, Al Asad, Iraq     
    The importance of Jeffersons' words can't be overstated. "Nothing can be more exactly and seriously true than what is there [the very words only of Jesus] stated; that but a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandising their oppressors in Church and State; that the purest system of morals ever before preached to man, has been adulterated and sophisticated by artificial constructions, into a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves; that rational men not being able to swallow their impious heresies, in order to force them down their throats, they raise the hue and cry of infidelity, while themselves are the greatest obstacles to the advancement of the real doctrines of Jesus, and do in fact constitute the real Anti-Christ." Thomas Jefferson
     -- Anon     
    This man has the same thoughts on Christianity that I always had. I love the teachings of Jesus far more than any "organized" religion. To be Christ-like is my goal.
     -- Nancy Brown, Quincy     
    I completely agree with Nancy Brown in Quincy. Jefferson has always been one of my heroes. He admired Unitarian Universalism, to which I subscribe my own beliefs.
     -- Diane Snyder, Phoenix     
    Yea for Mr. Jefferson an honest man! Why is it that the truly religious men get attacked the most by the organized religious men. Lincloln was considered unrelgious my many of his contempoaries but history treats him as one of our most spiritual and high minded Presidents. This is why many say that the "religious right" is religiously wrong.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
    I wish he wrote that letter to me for I would reply in kindness and assert my belief too - though taking a different tact. Moral practice needs no place of worship but the corridors of your own heart
     -- RBESRQ     
    This quote sums up my own attitude toward Christianity. Jefferson was a wise man :)
     -- Alisa, Soulsbyville, CA     
    Jefferson was a Deist. He thought the idea of a virgin birth and the Trinity were bad theology. We are never quite sure exactly sure what Jesus actually said due to scribes mistakes in copying the Bible. Read "Misquoting Jesus" by Bart Ehrman, and you can check it out on YouTube.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
    Blind leading the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
    Jim, Your so far off base, spreading doubt, never fixed anything or ever brought unity to true believers. Obviously there are things hidden, only to be reveled to those that would speak in due season. Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an alter with this inscription , TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all thins therein, seeing he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands: Neither is worshiped with mens hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and mans device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; But now commandeth all men every where to repent. Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.
     -- watchman 13, USA     
    Still our greatest president. Love to read his writings based on something long forgotten in America. COMMON SENSE
     -- cal, Lewisville, tx     
    Jim your arrogance is plain to see. What about , I am a Christian, do you not understand ? You get saved to understand, and not understand to get saved. Many in the beginning of our Nation were saved under the blanket of liberty and freedom not knowing what it means. The same is today with those that do not understand Liberty and freedom but wish to enjoy it. One could say, Liberty and Freedom are likened unto faith, Now faith is the substance of thing hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1. as also in verse 6, But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. which cannot be divorced from II Timothy 2:15, Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Romans 10:17also in one accord, So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Liberty and Freedom are shoved under the rug by the denominational religious system, The mystery of iniquity !
     -- watchman 13, USA     
    Nancy Brown, it is the goal of every Christian to put on Christ and be found in him. This mystery among the gentiles, Christ in you, the hope of glory. As our apostle Paul, states. This is where you find in his 13 books, 85, 8+5=13, pages, containing our liberty and freedom. Wisdom has mingle her wine, word and number, and numbers do not lie ! 13 is the number of rebellion in a King James Bible. original translation. 1611. The whole bible is for you, but it is not all to you ! Romans thru Philemon is to you ! and to all, in this dispensation of the grace of God. As can be said of our liberty and freedom also, Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lust shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. II Timothy ch 4 verses 2 thru 4.
     -- watchman 13, USA     
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