Throughout this nation many people are convinced that the United States has to be a Christian nation and that it’s Founding Fathers wanted it that way. This article shows what many of the Founding Fathers really said about religion, Christianity, and the Bible. It would surprise and even shock most people, Christian and non-Christian alike to learn that:
Thomas Jefferson, who became the third president of the United States, compared the sayings of Jesus in the New Testament to diamonds in a dunghill. He also likened the teaching of Jesus being born from a virgin to a pagan Roman myth about a goddess being conceived in the brain of a god.
Thomas Paine, who inspired American revolutionaries with his writings, said that the Bible was stupid, Christianity repugnant, and the Old Testament might as well be the word of a demon.
John Adams, who became the second president of the United States, wrote that the belief that Jesus came down to earth to be crucified - Christianity’s most sacred teaching - was an “awful blasphemy” to the “great Principle” of creation that had to be eliminated or “there never will be any liberal science in the world.”
Imagine Obama saying all of that and see what an uproar it would cause.
This article is excerpted from the book The Ten Commandments Of Our Founding Fathers which I authored. It is available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. The book includes links to, and photo-images of, the original manuscripts and texts from which the quotes are taken.
1. You shall not mingle religion with politics.
“And here, without anger or resentment, I bid you farewell. Sincerely wishing, that as men and Christians, ye may always fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil and religious right, and be, in your turn, the means of securing it to others; but that the example which ye have unwisely set, of mingling religion with politics, may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of AMERICA.”2. Your neighbor’s religion is none of your concern.
Italics and capitalization in the original.
Thomas Paine - Common Sense. From The Online Library of Liberty: The Writings of Thomas Paine, Volume I page 126
"...on the subject of religion, a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his maker, in which no other, & far less the public had a right to intermeddle."
Thomas Jefferson to Richard Rush, May 31st, 1813. From The Online Library of Liberty: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson - Volume XI, Page 292
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; thus building a wall of [eternal] separation between Church & State.”3. You shall not establish any religion above any other.
Underlining his. Bracketed word is crossed out in the original manuscript.
Thomas Jefferson - Letter to the Danbury Baptists: The Library of Congress Information Bulletin.
“We the subscribers, citizens of the said Commonwealth, having taken into serious consideration, a Bill printed by order of the last Session of General Assembly, entitled “A Bill establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion,” and conceiving that the same if finally armed with the sanctions of a law, will be a dangerous abuse of power, are bound as faithful members of a free State to remonstrate against it, and to declare the reasons by which we are determined. We remonstrate against the said Bill…4. All religions shall have equal recognition.
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“3. Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?”
James Madison - Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments c. June 20, 1785.
“The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason & right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally past; and a singular proposition proved that it’s protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that it should read ‘a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion’ the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.”5. You shall exclude the clergy of any religion from public office.
Thomas Jefferson - Autobiography. July 27, 1821.
“Of this General Assembly, the treasurer, attorney general, register, ministers of the gospel, officers of the regular armies of this State, or of the United States, persons receiving salaries or emoluments from any power foreign to our confederacy, those who are not resident in the county for which they are chosen delegates, or districts for which they are chosen senators, those who are not qualified as electors, persons who shall have committed treason, felony, or such other crime as would subject them to infamous punishment, or shall have been convicted by due course of law of bribery or corruption, in endeavoring to procure an election to the said assembly, shall be incapable of being members. All others, not herein elsewhere excluded, who may elect, shall be capable of being elected thereto.”6. You shall exclude the clergy of any religion from public schools even more so than from public office.
Thomas Jefferson - Proposed Constitution for Virginia. From The Online Library of Liberty: The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, page 493.
BILL FOR ESTABLISHING ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.7. You shall not disturb the religion and peace of other nations with Christian missionaries.
“In the 6th and 7th lines of the first section, the following words, “and not being ministers of the gospel of any denomination.”
“The note of the same section of these words, “Ministers of the Gospel are excluded to avoid jealousy from the other sects, were the public education committed to the ministers of a particular one; and with more reason than in the case of their exclusion from the legislative and executive functions.””
Thomas Jefferson - Note to Elementary School Act, 1817. Making of America Collection pages 96 & 97.
"I do not know that it is a duty to disturb by missionaries the religion and peace of other countries, who may think themselves bound to extinguish by fire and fagot the heresies to which we give the name of conversions, and quote our own example for it. Were the Pope, or his holy allies, to send in mission to us some thousands of Jesuit priests to convert us to their orthodoxy, I suspect that we should deem and treat it as a national aggression on our peace and faith."8. You shall not ban any books.
Thomas Jefferson to Michael Megear, 1823. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition 15:434
"I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, the sale of a book* [a book about the Universe] can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offense against religion; that a question like this 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?…. for God's sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose."9. You shall question all religions.
Italics in original.
Thomas Jefferson to N. G. Dufief, 1814. The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, page 102.
Sur la Creation du Monde Un Systeme d'Organisation Primitive by M. De Becourt.
“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.”10. You shall question the Bible, even to the point of blasphemy.
“EVERY national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet; as if the way to God was not open to every man alike.
“Each of those churches shows certain books, which they call revelation, or the Word of God. The Jews say that their Word of God was given by God to Moses face to face; the Christians say, that their Word of God came by divine inspiration; and the Turks say, that their Word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from heaven. Each of those churches accuses the other of unbelief; and, for my own part, I disbelieve them all.”
Thomas Paine The Age of Reason, The Writings of Thomas Paine, Volume IV. Pages 22-23.
“But the whole history of these books is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.”
Thomas Jefferson - Letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814
The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams page 421. Edited by Lester J. Cappon
“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”
Thomas Paine - The Age of Reason. From the Online Library of Liberty - The Writings of Thomas Paine, Volume IV, Page 34
“But the belief of a God is so weakened by being mixed with the strange fable of the Christian creed, and with the wild adventures related in the Bible, and the obscurity and obscene nonsense of the Testament, that the mind of man is bewildered as in a fog.
“A man, by hearing all this nonsense, lumped and preached together, confounds the God of the Creation with the imagined God of the Christians, and lives as if there was none.
“Of all the systems of religion that were ever invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity.”
Thomas Paine - The Age of Reason. From the Online Library of Liberty, The Writings of Thomas Paine, Volume IV, Pages 189-190
“The Europeans are all deeply tainted with prejudices, both ecclesiastical and temporal, which they can never get rid of. They are all infected with episcopal and presbyterian creeds, and confessions of faith. They all believe that great Principle which has produced this boundless universe, Newton’s universe and Herschell’s universe, came down to this little ball, to be spit upon by Jews. And until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.”
*The statement above is in reference to Christianity’s central teaching about Jesus dying for Humanity’s sins. Jesus was spat upon on his way to the crucifixion.
John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, January 22, 1825. From The Online Library of Liberty: The Writings of John Adams, Volume X, pages 414-415.
“IT is upon this plain narrative of facts, together with another case I am going to mention, that the Christian mythologists, calling themselves the Christian Church, have erected their fable, which for absurdity and extravagance is not exceeded by anything that is to be found in the mythology of the ancients.”
Thomas Paine - The Age of Reason. From The Online Library of Liberty: The Writings of Thomas Paine, Volume IV, Page 28.
“The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."
Thomas Jefferson - Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823.
The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams page 594. Edited by Lester J. Cappon.
This knowledge is of divine origin; and it is from the Bible of the creation that man has learned it, and not from the stupid Bible of the church, that teaches man nothing.
Thomas Paine - The Age of Reason. From The Online Library of Liberty: The Writings of Thomas Paine, Volume IV, Page 192.