Who was Thomas Jefferson?

and what did he believe about God?

 Thomas Jefferson
   Thomas Jefferson  

 Free to Pray - Home Intro - Liberty Bell

Introduction: Free to Pray, all about Religious Freedom in our Schools

Separation of Church and State - Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson; Separation of Church and State

U.S. Supreme Court Rulings on Religion in Schools
Supreme Court Rulings on Religion in Public Schools

Thomas Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Bapist with the words Separation of Church and State.

We all know that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, was the third President of the United States, started the University of Virginia and donated his library to establish the Library of Congress. He also wrote the words "A Wall of Separation between Church and State." Because of this last quote many people have come to think that Jefferson was an anti-Christian agnostic, or advocated that religion be barred from the government.

But what did Jefferson really believe about the Christian faith and its relation to our government?  The late Dr. D. James Kennedy made some interesting observations about the life of Thomas Jefferson, in his new book "What if America were a Christian Nation Again?"

  • Thomas Jefferson was raised in an Anglican family.
  • He went to a Christian school and was taught by Christian pastors.
  • Jefferson attended church regularly his whole life.
  • As an adult he served on the Vestry of the Anglican church.
  • He attended the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist churches.
  • Jefferson regularly tithed to the church.
  • While Washington & Adams ended their Presidential Papers with "In the Year of our Lord", Jefferson ended his Presidential Papers with "In the year of our Lord Christ 18__".
  • As President he attended the largest church in the nation which held their services in the House Chambers of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
  • Jefferson was not pleased with the music, so he ordered the Marine Band to come to church on Sundays.

Mark A. Beliles has assembled an impressive list of some of Jefferson's actions as president.

  • Promoted legislative and military chaplains.
  • Established a national seal using a biblical symbol.
  • Included the word "God" in our national motto.
  • Established official days of fasting and prayer at the state level.
  • Punished Sabbath breakers.
  • Punished marriages contrary to biblical law.
  • Punished irreverent soldiers.
  • Protected the property of churches.
  • Required that oaths be phrased by the words "So help me God" and be sworn on the Bible.
  • Granted land to Christian schools.
  • Allowed government property and facilities to be used for worship.
  • Used the Bible and nondenominational religious instruction in the public schools. He was involved in three different school districts, and the plan in each required that the Bible be taught in our public schools.
  • Allowed and encouraged clergymen to hold public office.
  • Funded religious books for public libraries.
  • Funded salaries for missionaries.
  • Exempted churches from taxation.
  • Established professional schools of theology.
  • Wrote treaties requiring other nations to guarantee religious freedom, including religious speeches and prayer in official ceremonies.

You will notice that in many cases Federal Treasury money was used to support churches.

Engraved on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. are the words of our third President: "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?"

Jefferson wrote this warning on September 6, 1819: "The Constitution . . . is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please."

It is very evident from the record that Thomas Jefferson believed in God and felt that religion should play an important role in the government, and that government could and should support churches. Would Jefferson who added the word "God" to the National Motto, agree with the 9th Circuit Court, who stated that the word "God" in the Pledge of Alegance is Unconstitutional? The War that the Supreme Court has launched on people of faith, Jefferson would be totally against.

Jefferson is also known for creating the "Jefferson Bible". He took a King James Bible and cut out all of the miracles that Jesus had preformed out of the New Testament. Jefferson then pasted the parts without the miracles into a red leather bound volume he titled , "The Life and Moral of Jesus of Nazareth."  So in some measure Jefferson was of the Age of Enlightenment in which things had to have a logical explanation. Some have suggested he did this to make it easier for none believes to accept the Bible, but others will say Jefferson's faith in God was a little shallow. None the less Jefferson's long involvement in the Church is a testimony that he took faith in God very seriously.

Last Update Mar. 2018