This class is one in a series on the religious beliefs and practices of our nation’s founders.  There is a great deal said on this topic, much of it very simplistic. As you will see the religious beliefs of our founders were complex but also foundational.

Thomas Jefferson said of himself, “I am a Christian in the only sense in which I believe Jesus wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence, and believing he never claimed any other.” But Jefferson also believed that the Christian religion had been corrupted by the early church and that beliefs not supported by reason were not relevant. His beliefs were sufficiently outside the norm that his political opponents claimed he was an atheist, endangering religion in America. Consequently, he kept secret one of his pass times while in the White House, creating his own version of the New Testament of the Bible but cutting out all references to events not verifiable or supported by reason.