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My Take: How Thomas Jefferson’s secret Bible might have changed history
A Smithsonian conservator displays the cover page from Thomas Jefferson's Bible.
January 11th, 2012
11:38 AM ET

My Take: How Thomas Jefferson’s secret Bible might have changed history

Editor's note: Mitch Horowitz is editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin and editor of Penguin’s new reissue of The Jefferson Bible.

By Mitch Horowitz, Special to CNN

(CNN) Imagine the following scenario: A U.S. president is discovered to be spending his spare time taking a razor to the New Testament, cutting up and re-pasting those passages of the Gospels that he considered authentic and morally true and discarding all the rest.

Gone are the virgin birth, divine healings, exorcisms and the resurrection of the dead, all of which the chief executive dismissed as “superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.”

Such an episode occurred, although the revised version of Scripture remained unseen for nearly seven decades after its abridger’s death. Thomas Jefferson intended it that way.

During most of his two terms in the White House, from 1801 to 1809, and for more than a decade afterward, Jefferson the third U.S. president and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence committed himself to a radical reinterpretation of the Gospels.

With a razor and glue brush at this side, Jefferson lined up English, French, Greek and Latin editions of Scripture and proceeded to cut up and reassemble the four Gospels into an exquisitely well-crafted, multilingual chronology of Christ’s life.

Jefferson lined up different editions of Scripture.

In Jefferson’s view, this revision represented a faithful record of Christ’s moral code, minus the miracles that the Enlightenment-era founder dismissed as historical mythmaking.

The book eventually became known as The Jefferson Bible and is now being rediscovered in new editions, including one published this month by Tarcher/Penguin, and as the focus of a Smithsonian exhibit.

Ask most people today if they have heard of Jefferson’s Bible and you will receive blank stares. Indeed, for much of American history, The Jefferson Bible was entirely unknown. Jefferson intended it as a work of private reflection, not a public statement.

As contemporary readers discover the work, it is tempting to wonder how American history might look different had Jefferson’s radical document come to light closer to its completion.

Jefferson was still working on his Bible during his presidency, so its theoretical publication wouldn’t have compromised his electability. But if the book had been made public after its final completion in 1820, when Jefferson had only six more years to live, it likely would have become one of the most controversial and influential religious works of early American history.

A curator handles a "source" Bible from which Jefferson cut out passages.

That was a scenario Jefferson took pains to avoid. After being called an “infidel” during his 1800 presidential race, Jefferson knew the calumny he could bring on himself if word spread of his “little book.” Although he had his work professionally bound, he mentioned it only to a select group of friends. Its discovery after his death came as a surprise to his family.

Jefferson’s wish for confidentiality held sway until 1895 when the Smithsonian in Washington made public his original pages, purchased from a great-granddaughter. In 1904, Congress issued a photolithograph edition and presented it for decades as a gift to new legislators, a gesture that would likely cause uproar in today’s climate of political piety.

Because of the book’s long dormancy following Jefferson’s death, and its limited availability for generations after arguably the first truly accessible edition didn’t appear until 1940 The Jefferson Bible has remained a curio of American history.

So how would the earlier publication of The Jefferson Bible have changed American history? It's impossible to know for sure, but the 1820s inaugurated a period of tremendous spiritual experiment in America: It was the age of Mormonism, Unitarian Universalism and Shakerism, among other new faiths.

There’s little doubt that many Americans, who were already fiercely independent in matters of religion, would have seen The Jefferson Bible as the manifesto of a reformist movement call it “Jeffersonian Christianity” focused not on repentance and salvation but on earthly ethics. Such a movement could have swept America, and also have spread to Europe, where Jefferson was esteemed.

A broad awareness of Jefferson’s work would have surely engendered a more complex view of the religious identity of Jefferson and other founders. Indeed, one of Jefferson’s most trusted correspondents while he was producing his Bible was his White House predecessor, John Adams, who in turn confided to Jefferson his distrust of all religious orthodoxy. These men were impossible to pin pat religious labels on.

Because Jefferson published relatively little during his lifetime, the appearance of The Jefferson Bible would have created a different, and more confounding, public image of the statesman as someone struggling deeply with his own religious beliefs. The Jefferson that appears behind his reconstruction of Scripture is someone who brushed aside notions of miraculous intervention and canonical faith.

As The Jefferson Bible conveys, however, Jefferson considered Jesus’ moral philosophy the most finely developed in history, surpassing the ethics of both the ancient Greeks and the Hebrews. He insisted that Christ’s authentic doctrine was marked by a stark, ascetic tone that clashed with the supernatural powers attributed to him.

“In extracting the pure principles which he taught,” Jefferson wrote in 1813, “we should have to strip off the artificial vestments in which they have been muffled by priests, who have travestied them into various forms. ... There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.”

Jefferson’s minimalist approach to the Gospels reveals an attitude that he disclosed only privately, just months before his death: “I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."

In that sense, Jefferson the politician wouldn’t have stood a chance in the current presidential race, where faith and piety are on constant display. The political process might be more open today to candidates of varying degrees and types of belief if The Jefferson Bible were more central to the nation’s history.

The Jefferson Bible opens a window on Jefferson’s struggle to find a faith with which he could finally come to terms. It was this kind of intimate, inner search not the outward pronouncement and establishment of religious doctrine that the man who helped shape modern religious liberty sought to protect in America.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mitch Horowitz.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: History • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (1,432 Responses)
  1. Reality

    Some more words of wisdom from a wise man:

    Jefferson noted this about the Book of Revelation: "considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams." [31]

    And this about Xmas:

    "And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the 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."

    – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  2. Cherry Pick it

    Christians don't pick and choose which scripture they believe. Its ALL the word of our Lord. So here are some of those loving words:

    Who You Should Kill

    –Unruly or rebellious child. Deut 21:20-21
    –Those who curse or hit their parents. Lev 20:9, Ex 21:15
    –Worshipers of other gods. Deut 13:6-11
    –Psychics, witches. Lev 20:27, Deut 13:6-11, Ex 22:18.
    –Those who do not believe in Jesus (parable). Luke 19:27.
    –Those who work on the Sabbath. Ex 35:2
    –Moses kills a gentile for this. Num 15:32-36.
    –Those who are accused by at least two people of wickedness. Deut 17:6. –The children and babies of enemies. Num 31:17, Deut 20:13, Psalm 137:9, Lev 26:29.
    –Adulterers. Lev 20:10.
    –Ho-mose-xuals. Lev 20:13.
    –A woman who is not a virgin when married. Deut 22:13-21.
    –Those who are careless with murderous livestock. Exodus 21:29.

    Who You Should Hate

    –Those who eat crab or shrimp. Lev 11:10.
    –Those who sacrifice an animal to God that has a blemish. Deut 17:1.
    –Those who remarry the same person after divorce. Deut 24:4.
    –Ho-mose-xuals. Lev 18:22.
    –Those who are proud. Prov 16:5.
    –A woman who wears pants. Deut 22:5.
    –A man with long hair (Jesus?). 1Cor 11:14 contradicts Num 6:5, 1Sam 1:11, Jug 13:5.
    –Those who call others fools Mat 5:22

    Should we still do this stuff?

    January 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Erik from Sweden

      Although I'm very secular person (Agnostic) living in Sweden, I did not find any of that in 3 of my bibles I've read. Maybe American bibles are different ?! I don't believe Jesus every said any of those things either.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • The Phist

      Praise him and all his mercies.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Proud Atheist mother

      Being an Atheist... that sounds more like the Jewish Torah and Talmud that the bible. I've read the bible several times and never found any of that :S

      January 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • I wonder

      @Cherry Pick it provided chapter and verse numbers. It should not be difficult for you to look them up.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • The Phist

      Proud, it's in there.

      You might also be interested in reading quotes from jesus and when he promised to return. The majority of christians don't know about it. If they did, they'd use their bibles as toilet paper.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • !!!!

      "Cherry Pick It" is a troll.... BEWARE OF TROLLS!!!!! JESUS IS NOTHING BUT A LOVING PERSON. DON'T LISTEN TO THAT MORON WHO MAKE UP HIS OWN BELIEFS UPON OTHERS.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Lucy

      God will punish you for making up your hatred fake quotes

      January 11, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  3. turnagainoutlaw

    Christians, you belong to the past. Atheism is on the rise and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Erik from Sweden

      From what I have read in many diferent websites etc. Atheist and Agnostics only present 1,6% of the USA population while their are 80% Christians, but in some states higher. Maybe it is on raise by actual number but not %

      January 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Reality

      o http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html
      o
      Religion................ Adherents

      Christianity.............. ............2.1 billion

      Islam................................... 1.5 billion

      Irreligious/agnostic/atheism 1.1 billion

      Hinduism 900 million
      Chinese traditional religion 394 million
      Buddhism 376 million
      Animist religions 300 million
      African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
      Sikhism 23 million
      Juche 19 million
      Spiritism 15 million
      Judaism 14 million
      Baha'i 7 million
      Jainism 4.2 million
      Shinto 4 million
      Cao Dai 4 million
      Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
      Tenrikyo 2 million
      Neo-Paganism 1 million
      Unitarian Universalism 800,000
      Rastafari Movement 600,000

      January 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Lucy

      There are 2.2 billion Christians (100 million is still fairly large number to exclude). Those 1.1 billion are not all atheists/agnostics. Being non-religious does not mean being an atheist and does not mean not believe in God.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Mr. Hat

      Whoops wrong post!

      January 12, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  4. Erik from Sweden

    I'm from Sweden and although most Swedes are very secular, our Atheists/Agnostics are not as extreme and against religion as many American Atheists I see are. Swedish secular still celebrate Christian holidays, sometimes goes to church, getting their kids baptised etc. so we would consider our people cultural Christian. Only the Middle Easterners are religious.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • The Phist

      Do the christians in your country constantly tell atheists they're all going to burn in hell? Are your politicians annoyingly forceful with their beliefs? Do bible thumpers give you a verbal beatdown if you say you're an Atheist?

      That's pretty much what happens here. Which is why Atheists hate religion probably more than in nearly every other country. The religious here take the whole freedom of religion thing a little too far, as though it's a badge to enforce christian law upon us all.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Erik from Sweden

      Sweden is the size of California but with a population of only 9.5 million people. Since the atheists/agnostics in my country do not protest or show anything being against religion, no religious people have said anything bad to us. But I think they would be mad if we like American Atheists got rid of prayers and religion from schools, got rid of Christian holidays etc.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • I wonder

      Erik from Sweden,

      You have prayer and religion taught in public schools in Sweden?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • The Phist

      There is a reason for removing religion from certain places. Government funding. If the government is funding public education, then religion is not allowed because it violates the separation of church and state. It's not because of Atheists. The government has no place in religion, and religion certainly has no place in government. It should be as far from the government as possible. Christians are quick to forget the influence the church had on England, and the reason why the United States was formed in the first place.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Erik from Sweden

      In our public schools, teachers take students to church and pray usually on holidays, like Easter and Christmas. Our students also sing Jesus songs on Music classes, especially on St. Lucia Day (Dec 13) and on several other occasions. However, we do not have daily prayers. Religion is taught in public schools. There are bible classes too taught in public schools after class if interested.

      I understand that USA has seperation of church and state, but so does Sweden and we still respect religious people. If Christians are the majority in USA, why don't you Atheists respect them? Let them make it as Christian as possible, ignore them and make fun of them. That is my tips.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Mr. Hat

      @Erik
      I think if we Christians actually respected Atheist's beliefs, they would be nicer to us.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • The Phist

      Sociology studies have shown that Atheists are deemed by believers to be deviants. They can't accept gays either. They are the most intolerant group of people on the planet. Yet they claim to be peaceful and meek. The meek shall inherit the Earth. Funny.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Mr. Hat

      @Phist
      What believers were surveyed in these studies?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • The Phist

      Sweet christ chex, answering this would require an extensive search through my college coursework.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • The Phist

      I actually wrote a few papers on the subject. Here's one study:

      http://www.pitzer.edu/academics/faculty/zuckerman/Zuckerman_on_Atheism.pdf

      If you look up atheism and deviant behavior, you're going to find that it is listed amongst society's list of trash. In short, if theists didn't believe in god, then we wouldn't be on the list.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Mr. Hat

      You can't really say that Religious are all intolerant because not all of them are. It varies amongst people

      January 12, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Mr. Hat

      Whoops wrong post!!

      January 12, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  5. Christine

    I'm fine with atheists, but I get annoyed when the tiny minority tried to shovel their "godless belief" in our nation and society when the majority by far believes in God.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • The Phist

      And the majority believing in a myth justifies the myth......... how?

      January 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Christine

      According to YOU it's a myth, but not for the majority. That's one of the reason I say that atheists try to shovel their "belief" in our throats.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • The Phist

      No, it's a myth. It's not a matter of being "according to me." If you want to complain about who gets the shaft, christians by far are the largest group of people giving people the shaft. Shoveling religious holidays down everyone's throats. Knocking on my door trying to get me to convert to believing in their myth, same goes for the mormons and jehovah's witnesses.

      The majority are wrong. If you lived in Greece during the height of their belief in Zeus and all the other gods, then you'd see that the majority of Greeks believed in this. Does that make them right? Absolutely not. They believed that the gods lived atop Mt. Olympus and that the gods were physical manifestations that were able to walk among them. Then people finally went to Mt. Olympus and what did they find? It sure as hell wasn't a city for the gods. It was just dirt and rock, like every other mountain.

      The religion of christianity has already been proven false. The majority ignores facts and continues believing in a myth. Which in itself is rather humorous considering the advances humanity has made in science.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Christine

      No, it's NOT a myth. If it was a 'myth' it wouldn't excist today. There are proof that Jesus Christ was born. However no matter how much I tell you will never agree with me anyway, and I will not agree with you either. What I will say is that there are 2.2 billion Christians worldwide, just because there are few fundamentalist extremist out there does not mean it represents the entire religion.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • The Phist

      I never said jesus wasn't born. In fact, his grave was found a few decades ago. He was buried with his wife, son and parents. This would explain why his body was not found in its original location and why so many people continue to foolishly believe he was resurrected.

      http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/item_osDm6YAoDqv81XFyC4LRdJ

      The religion itself is a myth. David Koresh had followers. Mohammed had followers. Just because people believe in it does not make it truth. Hitler had followers, does that mean because people believed in his cause it was the right way to go? No.

      Some people believe in Santa. Does the fact that they believe in him make him real? No. How about the tooth fairy? Nope, not real either. Zeus? Nope, not real. But, people believed in and have believed in them. You can't tell me that christianity isn't a myth. You've never seen god. You've never seen jesus. The worldwide flood written about in the bible, it's a known myth. Science proved it was a myth. Science also proved that the creation myth was wrong.

      I don't care how many people believe in it. I don't care how long they believed in it. It doesn't change the fact that it is a myth. You can't use these excuses to justify your belief. You need to come up with some factual information to show us that it is real. And you're going to have a hell of a difficult time because much of it has been proven false.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Christine

      Jesus Christ did NOT have any kids or wife. That is just a proof of how uneducated and ignorant you are. Christianity is NOT a myth and have never been. You don't know what you're talking about because you have been raised in a crappy family and you hang out with stupid friends that's why you have no faith. You are the one who cannot proof that God does not excist! No, I haven't seen Jesus/God myself, but I will the wonderful day I die and will enter kingdom of paradise, unlike you. God does not show himself on this Earth, but will when you die. Unfortunately you won't make it to paradise and you don't deserve it either.

      Santa was true. He was Saint Nicholaus, a turkish bishop who lived in Myra (Now Turkey) and gave gifts to nice children.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • The Phist

      .....and people still believe Santa is alive. Just like people still believe jesus is alive.

      I was raised in a christian home. I was a christian for around 20 years. I know more about your bible than I care to know, and more about it than you ever will.

      If you'd kindly go to the site I provided, it will show you that jesus did in fact have a wife and a child. I'm sure you'll continue to ignore it though. Also, there is no "C" in "EXIST."

      You say that god/jesus does not show itself on Earth. There are actually a few examples in the bible of requests to god to prove itself, and it did. Were you aware of that? Probably not. I figure, if the bible tells me that with the faith of a mustard seed, I can ask god for anything and it will happen, right? I'll hold a match in my hand and ask god to light it for me. Something small. I'm not asking for a real miracle, like seeing someone's limb grow back after getting it blown off in a war. That's too much for god to do (and there has NEVER been a case of god performing such a miracle through prayer or it just happening by chance).

      But, god won't light the match. It won't do anything, because it simply isn't there. If the almighty creator of the Universe existed, you'd think it would be tired of my blasphemy by now. It would light a match for me just as a little nudge and a wink as if to say, "Hey buddy, I'm here." But then you're going to tell me that god created angels and humans, and then let his angels get trashed and have a party where satan got all mouthy... then satan gets kicked out of heaven, tells some street walker named eve to eat fruit off a tree, and then suddenly all of mankind has to pay, right? Sure, makes a lot of sense to me.

      Have you ever bothered to read a bible, or any other religious text in their entirety? Something tells me that's a big, fat no.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Lucy

      The Philst: You're a misguided moron. I must feel bad for you family then... your dad should have used co.ndom

      January 11, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Reality

      A global view:

      o http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html
      o
      Religion............................ Adherents

      Christianity.............. ............2.1 billion

      Islam................................... 1.5 billion

      Irreligious/agnostic/atheism 1.1 billion

      Hinduism 900 million
      Chinese traditional religion 394 million
      Buddhism 376 million
      Animist religions 300 million
      African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
      Sikhism 23 million
      Juche 19 million
      Spiritism 15 million
      Judaism 14 million
      Baha'i 7 million
      Jainism 4.2 million
      Shinto 4 million
      Cao Dai 4 million
      Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
      Tenrikyo 2 million
      Neo-Paganism 1 million
      Unitarian Universalism 800,000
      Rastafari Movement 600,000

      January 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • wmurderface

      drink the coolaid. Tell me in the beginning there was adam and eve who had cane and able.cane killed able and roamed the desert. Then he begat himself a wife!!! So let me get this staight. Adam and Eve world pop. 2 ...... They had Cain and Able world pop. 4. Cain killed Able world pop. 3. Where did cain begat this wife??????? Answer this and I will fall to my knees and proclaim glory be to god.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Christine

      Who gives a sh.it if you will believe in God or not.... you're the one who will go to hell not me :D /////// R e a d the bible and get educated moron

      January 12, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Lucy

      - There are 2.2 billion Christians (100 million is still fairly large number to exclude). Those 1.1 billion are not all atheists/agnostics. Being non-religious does not mean being an atheist and does not mean not believe in God......

      January 12, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • The Phist

      I've already read the bible many times. Have you learned how to spell "EXIST" yet? Daft retard.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • The Phist

      Thanks for the useless lesson in statistics Lucy.

      Now, please call god down from the heavens to prove itself to all of us dirty Atheists. Otherwise, shut your chowderbox and get back in the kitchen.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Christine

      The Phist: Can you imagine how it will feel when you go to hell.... your soul will boil..... PS! You read a fake bible created by an unknown atheist author, not the real bible.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Lucy

      You will meet your creater the day you day (Hopefully it will be soon). I'm going to pray and sleep now. Good night your idiot

      January 12, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Lucy

      die*

      January 12, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • The Phist

      I've read the King James version along with the New International Version. I've also compared translations with other versions when I've found questionable trash, and confirmed its authenticity.

      I have also confirmed that you are in fact dumb as a brick. There is no hell. You'd know that if you read the bible and did some research on translations of the original Hebrew of the old testament. You'd also know that the new testament takes ideas from Greek mythology and incorporates it into christianity. You didn't really think "Hades" first appeared in the new testament BEFORE Greek mythology, did you?

      Enjoy living in fear : D

      January 12, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • The Phist

      Lucy, you humorously stated:

      "You will meet your creater the day you day (Hopefully it will be soon). I'm going to pray and sleep now. Good night your idiot"

      It's lovely that you fixed the "die" part, you wonderful christian you, but you missed the other eyesore. Let's see if you can fix that one before the night is out to save some of your dignity. I'm just kidding. You can't possibly have any dignity.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • The Phist

      Bye the way, moving onto the next page you filthy h00kers.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  6. Jenine

    1864: "IN GOD WE TRUST" appeared on coins. I love it!

    January 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • The Phist

      How did this country survive without that on currency for so many years before that? Oh, thank the LORD for his mercies and keeping us from tanking for not having it on our money before that! It must have made him so angry, but he is so merciful and things.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  7. Fundies hate facts

    only 9% of Americans in a 2008 poll said religion was the most important thing in their life

    59% of Americans living in Western states (the "Unchurched Belt") report a belief in God, yet in the South (the "Bible Belt") the figure is as high as 86%.[4][7]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States

    January 11, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Jenine

      Would you perhaps be able to SHUT UP?! 90%+ believe in God and will NOT change. 247 million Christian Americans is fairly large number and keep increasing.... :)

      January 11, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Void

      80% Christians vs. 1.6% atheists :D

      January 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • The Phist

      100% of believers have never seen god.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Jenine needs to take a chill pill

      Actually, only about 80% of Americans claim some form of religion. The non-religious demographic is growing far more quickly than any other group, both in terms of percentages as well as total numbers of new people. Christianity is falling as a group, dropping in the percentages of the total populace from 86% to 76% in 18 years. In those same 18 years, "no religion" doubled in size from 8% to 16% (that's 24,000,000 new seculars – hardly insignificant). That's almost the same number of people, so Christians are converting to irreligion at a an impressive rate.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  8. -

    ATHEISTS ARE GOTHICS WHO SHOULD BE IMPRISONED FOR LIFE

    January 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • The Phist

      Not goth, or emo for that matter.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Mr. Hat

      On what charges?

      January 11, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  9. Near-Record High See Religion Losing Influence in America

    Seven in 10 Americans say religion is losing its influence on American life - one of the highest such responses in Gallup's 53-year history of asking this question, and significantly higher than in the first half of the past decade.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/145409/Near-Record-High-Religion-Losing-Influence-America.aspx

    January 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Jenn

      That's a false poll that was created by 'American Atheist'.... they wish religion is losing influence but too bad over 90% believe in God and 80% are Christians. The only hope for atheists is to move to Scandinavia where the culture is Christian but people are very very secular.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Void

      Gallup is an organization by secular people. Don't trust it

      January 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Bill

      America is not a country. Perhaps you might refer to any North/South American nation, but definitely not in the U.S. where religion is very strong whether you like it or not

      January 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • wmurderface

      phist that was GREAT wow I never thought the huh huh huh would be FUNNY thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

      January 12, 2012 at 2:02 am |
  10. Atheists are STUPID & IDIOTS!!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3ug8jV0xCg&w=640&h=390]

    January 11, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • The Phist

      I'm not watching the video.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Matt

      Woow love it! It is true atheists needs to SHUT the F UP and move to Sweden!!!

      January 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Sylvia L

      Thanks for the video.... Love it!

      January 11, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      I would love to move to Sweden but I can't pronounce any of the dam street names!

      January 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • The Phist

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bntfaNE2TJo&w=640&h=390]

      January 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  11. Shimsho

    What's the most annoying about atheists/agnostics is that they think they represents 15 – 20% of the population when they are only 1.6% of the U.S. population. Yes, it's true that ~ 16% of Americans are not members of any religion, but does does NOT mean that they are all atheists/agnostics. My family believes in God, but are not member of any religious afflication so we're included in that 16%. BTW 90% believe in God in America which means we are a religious country (like Obama has stated various times).

    January 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Shimsho

      PS! Yes, I understand that atheism/secularism is growing in the U.S., by so does every other faith and religion due to immigration & birth rate.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • The Phist

      Not really concerned about percentages. Just because a large number of people believe in a myth doesn't make the myth real.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Void

      Yea, that is really annoying. Every one of them is always spouting off about the fact that they are 15 -20% of the population. They talk about nothing else! I tried to get them to discuss ideas about religion, God, their beliefs, but they keep coming back to that 15-20% thing. Jeeeezus! Just look at this blog. It's all they talk about!

      January 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • The Phist

      I don't see many atheists bringing it up very often. Instead, I see most of us bringing up facts. The reply is almost always that atheists don't have an understanding of the bible, etc. Not a valid argument. I've yet to see a believer be able to speak factually about his or her faith.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Void

      The Phist,
      My last post was tounge-in-cheek, in case I wasn't sarcastic enough ;-)

      January 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • The Phist

      Void, I apologize...
      <3

      January 11, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  12. kikigos

    The wonderful truth of the gospel is that Christ was perfect in our place. He took the punishment for sin and imperfettion in our place. He had done everything in our place. Living it? Yes, I accept Christ as my Savior. Yes, I am a sinner; yes, I am a saint. Christ made me one. It is nothing I have done, except to reach out and accept His gift. NO ONE CAN BE PERFECT ON HIS OWN. I don't like to think about those wiho believe they must, because at one point I believed had to. One of my partnes hammered it into me that I had to. I "burned" my bibles, but soon, after I married, I was given a different understanding of the bible, and I have never looked back.

    I'm an old woman now, with lots of pain, lots of temptation behind me. I know where I'm going. I'm going to live with God when I die. I will be in his presence eternally, and oh, it is wonderful. That is a helpful truth to know when pain comes.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  13. maraj

    I have a copy of The Jefferson Bible published in 1989 by the Beacon Press of the Unitarian-Universalist Church. UU's are taught that Jefferson was a religious liberal and his bible has long been known and appreciated.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  14. The Dude

    "Jeffersonian Christianity.........Such a movement could have swept America, and also have spread to Europe, where Jefferson was esteemed."

    That is the dumbest remark I have ever seen printed on CNN.com. This was an interesting article until I got to that part of the article.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  15. Graylobster

    In reference to your question, Jefferson's Bible would probably not have changed history or even had any effect. As was mentioned the American religious culture was in a great state of flux beginning before the Revoluntionary War. To saty that this volume would have an effect might be true if it had been distributed to all elected and appointed members of the government who seem to have forgotten moral backgrounds. For the atheists they are a religion that being humanism which always disappoints.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Nope...not all atheists are humanists.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  16. @@@@@@@ WARNING, NEW WORLD ORDER @@@@@@

    YEA, yea i know u won't believe me, (at first) , think im stupid. well watch this 5 minute video, and IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gQDBM139B0&feature=pyv

    January 11, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  17. scientificpoetry

    Another example of the genius of Jefferson. He had the wisdom to cut out all the bullcrap in the bible and shined light on those passages that were rational or provided insights on how mankind should treat his fellow man. When will the people of this world accept that the bible was written by men, for men.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • The Phist

      "by men, for men"

      Sounds like Tom Cruise and John Travolta are out of the closet.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And women can just do what? Go pound sand?

      January 11, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "And women can just do what? Go pound sand?"

      come on Tom, I know critical thinking is not your strong point but it is obvious that when he says "Men" he means mankind, not males. But the passages in the bible basically tell women to go pound sand.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  18. WARNING, NEW WORLD ORDER

    YEA, yea i know u won't believe , think im stupid. well watch this 5 minute video, and IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gQDBM139B0&feature=pyv

    January 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • you're right!

      I DO think you are stupid.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  19. Change

    I don't have a problem with religion but what I don't understand is why all these republican candidates are trying to shove their religious doctrines down our throats while campaigning for office. I thought there was supposed to be a seperation between church and state? And you pagan lunatics always complaining about Muslims clinging to their religious beliefs? You people are simply disgusting and pathetic!

    January 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Void

      I think you know the answer. Primaries are when the percentage of far right/left voters are at their higest. So the candidates have to cater to them to get nominated. Once they are nominated, you will see them move strongly toward the middle. They acknowledge this openly.
      The far right of the republican party are the fundies.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  20. billyv

    I discovered the Jefferson Bible years ago through a book called "The Gospel According to Jesus" by Stephen Mitchell. It's essentially a modern-day iteration of Jefferson's truth-finding exercise. I found the book to be incredibly enlightening and have made it required reading for anyone who wants to discuss religion with me in a serious way.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.