National Religious Freedom Day (Jan.16, 2008) is to honors the Virginia General Assembly's adoption of Thomas Jefferson's landmark Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786. This vital document became the basis for the separation of church and state, and led to freedom of religion for all Americans as protected in the religion clause in the U. S. Constitution's First Amendment.
The United States was not established as a Christian nation and the "founding fathers" would not have accepted government support of any religion. (March 14, 1801, just ten days after Jefferson's first inauguration as President.) Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary, 1796-1797 as the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion…etc.
Thomas Jefferson wanted education separated from religion. The founding in 1819 of the University of Virginia was one of his dreams. Upon its opening in 1825, it was then the first university to offer a full slate of elective courses to its students. One of the largest construction projects of that time in North America, it was notable for being centered about a library rather than a church. In fact, no campus chapel was included in his original plans. Until his death, Jefferson invited students and faculty of the school to his home; Edgar Allan Poe was one of those students.
Thomas Jefferson (one of the founding fathers of this Nation) and an architect of the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment (he came up with the phrase "Separation between Church and State.") Thomas Jefferson, in 1802, wrote a Letter to the Danbury Baptist Convention, referring to the First Amendment to the US Constitution. In it he said: "Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and 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 separation between Church and State."
In other words anyone can pray any place or time that they want to, but they can't force others to do the same. People can read any book they want to, but they can't force it on others. However, I think everyone should read the Bible without the advocate's interpretations. Thomas Jefferson read it (and edited it)….it was a much shorter book. With his scientific bent, Jefferson sought to organize his thoughts on religion. He rejected the superstitions and mysticism of Christianity and even went so far as to edit the gospels, removing the miracles and mysticism of Jesus leaving only what he deemed the correct moral philosophy of Jesus. (He edited the Bible with a pair of scissors)
Thomas Jefferson's religious beliefs is of no importance in order to determine his intentions when he wrote the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but there is no question Jefferson rejected the Bible as divine revelation. Thomas Jefferson was certainly one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. In spite of right-wing Christian attempts to rewrite history to make Jefferson into a Christian, little about his philosophy resembles that of Christianity. Although Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence wrote of the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God, there is nothing in the Declaration about Christianity. Thomas Jefferson, as we all know, wrote enough about Christianity for anyone to know that he was a skeptic, a man so hostile to Christianity he wrote his nephew regarding the Bible: "Read the Bible as you would Livy or Tacitus. For example, in the book of Joshua we are told the sun stood still for several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of their statues, beasts, etc. But it is said that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature"
"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814 ...Further, he refused to proclaim any national days of prayer or thanksgiving. "Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong."-Thomas Jefferson (Notes on Virginia, 1782) "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every from of tyranny over the mind of man."
Jefferson never believed that Christ was other than a human moralist, having no divine connection, and differing from other moralists only as greatly superior in ability and fitness for his function. Even though Thomas Jefferson's writings are accessible to anyone, it adds nothing to their reputation for truthfulness that some Christian leaders try to make the claims respecting Thomas Jefferson's belief or intentions (which many of them do) because his writings clearly prove that he was not a Christian, but a Freethinker. And some religious right leaders are trying to hijack Religious Freedom Day and use it as a way to push their religion.
"No man could be elected President of the United States today who is an avowed opponent of Christianity. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington would not be elected. "The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine." George Washington
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The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, December 8th at 12:15pm with activist Zack Kopplin talking about "Fighting Creationism in Louisiana and Now Texas". The lecture will be held at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon.