The Christianists who try to impose a literal application of the Bible to others (but always seem to exempt themselves from this practice) regularly put out the myth that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. True, many of the founding fathers were ostensibly Christians, but they surely were not Christianists and they would not condone the theocratic efforts of the likes of Daddy Dobson, Richard, Land, et al. No more glaring proof of this is readily available than the so-called Jefferson Bible, which Thomas Jefferson created for his own use and contained the portions of the Bible he saw as worthwhile. Notably, the entire Old Testament is omitted as are all of the books of the New Testament other than the four Gospels which Jefferson also edited. Would that more Americans knew their history so that they could not be so easily duped by the likes of Dobson and similar demagogues. Here are some highlights from the Los Angeles Times about the Jefferson Bible (the actual text can be found here):
Making good on a promise to a friend to summarize his views on Christianity, Thomas Jefferson set to work with scissors, snipping out every miracle and inconsistency he could find in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.Then, relying on a cut-and-paste technique, he reassembled the excerpts into what he believed was a more coherent narrative and pasted them onto blank paper -- alongside translations in French, Greek and Latin.*
He called the book "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth." Friends dubbed it the Jefferson Bible. It remains perhaps the most comprehensive expression of what the nation's third president and principal author of the Declaration of Independence found ethically interesting about the Gospels and their depiction of Jesus."I have performed the operation for my own use," he continued, "by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter, which is evidently his and which is as easily distinguished as diamonds in a dunghill."*
Like many other upper-class, educated citizens of the new republic, including George Washington, Jefferson was a deist.Deists differed from traditional Christians by rejecting miraculous occurrences and prophecies and embracing the notion of a well-ordered universe created by a God who withdrew into detached transcendence.Critics of the time regarded deism as an ill-conceived attempt to reconcile religion with scientific discoveries. For rationalists in the Age of Enlightenment, deism was one of many efforts to liberate humankind from what the deists viewed as superstitious beliefs.
Discussions and letters between Jefferson and another friend, Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush, led Jefferson to compile his "wee little book." In a letter to Rush on April 21, 1803, Jefferson said his editing experiment aimed to see whether the ethical teachings of Jesus could be separated from elements he believed were attached to Christianity over the centuries."To the corruption of Christianity I am indeed opposed," he wrote to Rush, "but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself."
The Jefferson Bible remained largely unknown beyond a close circle of relatives and friends until 1904, when its publication was ordered by Congress. About 9,000 copies were issued and distributed in the Senate and the House. . . . It is hard to say whether Jefferson would have objected to publication of the book. "Say nothing of my religion," Jefferson once said. "It is known to myself and my God alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life; if that has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one."*
Would that the Christianists would follow Jefferson's example and keep their perverse religion between themselves and God alone. It sad to realize that the nation has gone from presidents like Jefferson to moronic cretins like the Chimperator.