The TOTAL TRUTH Solution for a Fractured America
Big Picture Answers for America's Big Problems -
Rebuilding on America's Original Worldview

by Leonard Ransil

Section 4: America Founded on a Christian Worldview
Chapter 25     Thomas Jefferson's Beliefs

As stated in the previous chapter, "Our Foundation: Deist or Christian?", Secularists have revised history to say that our Founders were generally Secularists, or at best, Deists and certainly not religious since their allegiance was to the Enlightenment.  If that could be said of anyone other than Benjamin Franklin, it would be said of Thomas Jefferson, who is probably the most prominent poster boy of today’s Secularists.  But what do Jefferson's own writings indicate?  The inscriptions in the statue chamber of the Jefferson Memorial record his words:

"... And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . ."1 (emphasis added)
Apparently Jefferson thought that man’s liberties come from God and that removing that conviction from people’s minds - the very thing Secularists are bent on doing today - could lead to experiencing God’s wrath.  His concept of a God who might punish mankind is certainly not consistent with Deism as now defined and used by Secularists.  According to Jefferson, the Jewish “system was Deism; that is, the belief in one only God.”2  Overall, he seemed to fit with Russell Kirk’s summation of a Deist cited in the previous article.  However, for whatever reason, possibly not to be ostracized politically, Jefferson characterized himself differently. 

Just Who was Thomas Jefferson?

Unquestionably, Thomas Jefferson was a complex man and a deep thinker.  His beliefs were impacted by many personal tragedies that would have challenged anyone's Worldview.  He was very opinionated in his pronouncements that Jesus was not God and on the invalidity of the Bible in general.  Yet he admired Jesus as a supreme moralist.  He defined himself at different times as a Christian and a Materialist, with each term bearing his distinctive meaning.  In a letter to Benjamin Rush he declares and qualifies that:
"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 in which he wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others, ascribing to him every human excellence, and believing he never claimed any other."3 (emphasis added)
His opinion of Jesus as a Moralist was extremely high:
“His moral doctrines, relating to kindred and friends were more pure and perfect than those of the most correct of the philosophers, and greatly more so than those of the Jews; and they went far beyond both in inculcating universal philanthropy, not only to kindred and friends, to neighbors and countrymen, but to all mankind, gathering all into one family under the bonds of love, charity, peace, common wants and common aids. A development of this head will evince the peculiar superiority of the system of Jesus over all others.”4
Inspired by his own peculiar concepts, Jefferson distilled Jesus' ideals and purposes out of the Bible, which he believed had contaminated Jesus’ teachings through false accounts of miracles.  He compiled his own book of morality and declared himself to be a Materialist. 
“But while this syllabus is meant to place the character of Jesus in its true light, as no impostor Himself, but a great Reformer of the Hebrew code of religion, it is not to be understood that I am with Him in all His doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance towards forgiveness of sin; I require counterpoise of good works to redeem it, etc., etc.”5  (emphasis added)
So, even though Jefferson rejected the miracles and deity of Jesus and, therefore, was not a true Biblical Christian, he revered the same Judeo-Christian principles (or Worldview) of the vast majority of the other Founding Fathers.  It is on the basis of that legacy that America can be considered a Christian Nation as opposed to an Islamic, Communist, Atheist, Deist, Hindu or New Age nation. 

The practical reasons for this perspective were spelled out by our second president, John Adams.  Although he, like Thomas Jefferson, also doubted Jesus Christ’s divinity, he did believe in Christian principles. Following are just a few samples from the numerous historical writings and speeches of President Adams:
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."6 An Address to the Military, 1798.

“The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity…I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and the attributes of God.”7 Letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813.

"I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen."8 Letter to Thomas Jefferson, December 25, 1813.

"Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company: I mean Hell."9 Letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 19, 1817.
Despite the incessant drum beat of the Secularists to the contrary, even the non-Christian founders agreed that religion played an indispensable part in the moral and civil health of America and the religion of choice was, and should rightly be, Christianity.  In fact, it was the love of God for mankind expressed and demonstrated by Jesus Christ and his command for Christians to love and value other people as God’s creatures that made tolerance for other people’s ethnicity, gender, status and contrary Worldviews possible.  That is not the case today where other Worldviews are dominant. 

A Few Dissenters

Though Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were far more sympathetic to basing America on the general principles of Christianity than today’s Secularists would admit, a few of our Founders do fit the Secularists description. David Barton chronicled their views in his book, "The Practical Benefits of Christianity":
"… the current widespread revisionist teaching is that our Founders were a collective group of secularists who didn't believe in God - that they were atheists, agnostics, and deists. In reality, this characterization is true for only a few (e.g., Charles Lee, Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen, Henry Dearborn, William Eaton, Joel Barlow, etc.) of the more than two-hundred men we call Founding Fathers; the writings of the vast majority of Founders prove they believed otherwise."10
And like today, there was an unhappy minority of dissenters who tried to impose their will on the majority.
"… nearly three-quarters of a century after the Founding Fathers, petitions arrived in Congress seeking an end to all public religious expressions, including the removal of chaplains from the House, Senate, Army, Navy, etc. The House and Senate Judiciary Committees investigated to determine if Christian principles could or should be eradicated from American public life. In 1853-1854, the final reports were delivered, and the House Judiciary Committee emphatically announced:

In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity. . . . That was the religion of the Founders of the Republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants."11
The Senate Judiciary Committee similarly affirmed:
"We are Christians, not because the law demands it. . . but from choice and education. . . . But they [the Founders] had no fear or jealousy of religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people. . . they did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of atheistic apathy."12

It is obvious that the Secularists' claim that our Founders forged a secular nation is blatantly false.  The documents and correspondence of their star witnesses, Franklin and Jefferson, paint a very different vision; when their actual writings are analyzed objectively, the secularist allegations are disproved.  There is ample evidence from these few high profile Founders, who were not committed Christians, that America was rooted in Christian principles.  They believed in and upheld our religious origins.  There is even greater evidence from the large majority of the other Founders, who were professing Christians, that they intended to base this new nation squarely on a Christian Worldview.  But it was not to be a theocracy as in England where the King was also the head of the church.  Instead, this new Republic was to be founded on the general principles of Christianity - principles upon which these believers in Christ and the population in general, based their daily lives. Some of their many comments documenting their intent will be presented in the next chapter.

1 Wikipedia,, retrieved June 7, 2007
2 Angelfire, The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus-Jefferson's Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus, Compared with Those of Others, "Letter To Dr. Benjamin Rush", April 21, 1803,, retrieved June 7, 2007.    
3 Angelfire, "Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush"
4 Angelfire, "Letter To Dr. Benjamin Rush"
5 Angelfire, The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus-Jefferson's Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus, Compared with Those of Others, "Letter To William Short", April 13, 1820,, retrieved June 7, 2007.    
6 William Federer, America's God and Country, Encyclopedia of Quotations, Amerisearch Inc., St. Louis, MO, 2000, 10-11.
7 The Adams Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, Lester J. Cappon, editor, University of North Carolina Press, 1959, as referenced by the National Humanities Center,, retrieved June 7, 2007.
8 Federer, America's God and Country, 13.
9 God of Our Fathers: Advice and Prayers of Our Nation's Founders, Josiah Benjamin Richards, editor, Reading Books, Reading, PA, 1994, 173.
10 David Barton, The Practical Benefits of Christianity, as referenced by Worldview Weekend,, retrieved June 7, 2007.
11 Barton, The Practical Benefits of Christianity.
12 Barton, The Practical Benefits of Christianity.

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