Thomas Jefferson, Deism, and the 4th of July

Courtesty of

On the fourth day of July, the United States celebrates the writing and establishment of the Declaration of Independence. With only a very few word changes this magnificent document was written by one man, Thomas Jefferson, a Deist.

While many continue to contend the U.S. is a “Christian Nation,” it has been noted time and again this belief is incorrect. The forefathers of this great country were not Christians. They were Deists. For anyone not familiar with the term, Wikipedia describes it thus:

For Deists, human beings can know God only via reason and the observation of nature, but not by revelation or supernatural manifestations (such as miracles).

Or, as William Edelen puts it in his superb article:

In Deism, there is no personal God, only “providence” or “nature’s god”

When compared to Christianity, Deists believe Jesus was a teacher. Nothing more. They view the bible as literature (and very bad literature at that), and consider it full of errors, contradictions, falsehoods and superstitions.

Edelen points out how Jefferson himself viewed Christianity:

JESUS: “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by a 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.”

GOD: “Question with boldness the existence of God… because if there be one, it will much more approve of reason than of blindfolded fear.” (Written to his nephew)

TRINITY: “It is too late in the day for men of intelligence to pretend they believe that three are one… and one is three… and yet that the one is not three… and the three are not one… let us sweep away the fictitious religion of the priests so that they will catch no more flies.” (Jefferson-Adams Letters)

CHRISTIANITY: “I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstitions of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites, to support roguery and error all over the earth. Christian creeds and doctrines, the clergy’s own fatal inventions, through all of the ages has made of Christendom a slaughter house.” (Notes on Religion, passed in the Assembly of Virginia in the year 1786)

In another place, he points out the marked difference between the founding presidents and our current U.S. government representatives:

Jefferson and our first six presidents would find all of this blabbering God talk today coming from our phony politicians repugnant. They cannot end a statement without saying, “God bless you”…or “God bless America.” None of this God stuff comes from our founding presidents. (Emphasis mine)

He adds:

It was only in 1954 that “under God” was put in the Pledge of Allegiance. And only in 1954 that “in God we trust” was put on paper currency.

Finally, Mr. Edelen writes:

There is no question in my mind that the 4th of July is the most important holiday that we celebrate in this nation.

All of the other holidays, Easter and Christmas included, pale by comparison.

I totally agree.

Happy Fourth of July to every American!



45 thoughts on “Thomas Jefferson, Deism, and the 4th of July

  1. I am curious why, ”In God we Trust” was introduced? Did it have anything to do with the USSR and the Cold War?
    Sorry if this sounds a daft question, I’m not that familiar with too much US history.

    Also, I have always wondered how native Americans feel about Independence Day?
    Do you know?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have only recently been made aware of this myself, and if you read around the internet, you’ll find this is quite a hot topic. It seems some of our founding fathers were indeed deists, and the rest were christian (many of them fundamentalist). Oddly having deists there does not comfort me. I wonder what would have happened if there’d been an outright nonbeliever with influence around at the time? Wishful thinking, I know. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jefferson is one of those towering intellects whose stature only grows with time. Should anyone wish to understand what the Scottish enlightenment principles looked like in action, read Jefferson.

    That’s why it’s laughable to hear otherwise semi-intelligent people suggest the United States was founded as a Christian country… because It was Jefferson who recognized the importance of creating a people first – a people called ‘Americans’ who did not exist prior to Jefferson putting pen to paper. Literally, a founding father of a people.

    And for this single people (E pluribus unum – one from many – found on the seal of the United States) he indisputably designed and negotiated a SECULAR government. (That he did so to break away from the British primogeniture laws is still very important to understand – a law of inheritance that he saw tearing up the South including his own cherished colony and to which he attributed many Colonial wars. It was against this law that he wrote the meaning behind the revolutionary phrase ‘all men are born equal’).

    So when you hear some religious buffoon malign people who support separation of Church and State with the term ‘secularists’ as if this is a pejorative, please remind the dolt that the US – and not any totalitarian historical example like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union or China – is the primary example of this ‘terrible’ kind of godless nation-state. (France is the second.) It sure shuts up the religio-idiots from the States who suddenly realize they’ve confused their anus with their mouth and know nothing about their own country’s history..

    Liked by 5 people

  4. While true that many of your founding fathers were deists, one can only wonder if they would have held that position if they’d lived long enough to read On The Origin of Species, and spent an afternoon having tea with Darwin, discussing the idea.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. This post is exactly why I used to do quote of the month (founding fathers) posts myself. I have sorta kinda let that little thing slide, I am glad you have taken up the mantle 🙂

    …and what Tildeb said!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nan,

    I could not agree more with you and Mr. Edelen! If any of our contemporary political officials, who erroneously pronounce this nation was founded as a Xian nation, actually did a thorough academic and historical study of all the Founding Fathers — especially John Adams, James Madison, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and of course Thomas Jefferson — they will clearly see what you and Mr. Edelen are saying here. The largest majority of U.S. history scholars (if not 99% of them) that are not politically associated with one party, also agree: the U.S.A. was not founded as a theocratic or Xian nation.

    Furthermore, our U.S. Supreme Court has made countless decisions to impede or halt attempts for one singular religious standard in civil government and TRY to preserve the purest forms of liberty and freedom. For example, Melvin v. Easley — 1860, Watson v. Jones — 1872, Reynolds vs. U.S. — 1878, Darwin v. Beason — 1890, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette — 1943, Everson v. Board of Education — 1947, McCollum v. Board of Education — 1948, Zorach v. Clausor — 1952, Torcaso v. Watkins — 1961, and Wallace v. Jaffree — 1985 to name just a few.

    Happy 4th of July holiday to you as well Nan! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on Scotties Toy Box and commented:
    If any post on my blog shall be read and thought on, this is the one I hope people will pick. For understanding this post and what it means for us as Americans is an indicator of where our country is headed. What we need to understand is that we , not some mythical god must take the responsibility and do what we know is correct and right, well thought out, and have enjoyment in this life, not the shadow living in hope of a second after. Hugs


  8. Great post. Check out my current and upcoming political and theological posts! Follow for follow. Share anything you like to increase the following and viewership. Thanks. I look forward to your future posts!


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