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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. johnnymr51

    When the truth of their "beloved" Founding Fathers is fully revealed and hits the baggers over the head, they're not gonna be so fond of them anymore. Thank you Thomas Jefferson for taking a razor to the most dangerous book in America.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Apparently, Jefferson thought there was considerable value in the Bible, or he wouldn't have spent so much time and effort studying it in such fine detail.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  2. Dave

    Can we start over at the baseline fact that we're all too old to have imaginary friends that live in the sky?

    January 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  3. AZLib

    Whenever there is articles like this I notice they ALWAYS forget one very important point. Jefferson, Adams and many of our other founding fathers... were Masons... whereby and whereon for the day they were a bit radical and that include views of the church who up until that time was NOT the best friend to the man on the street. Many people were starting to shed the chains of organized church and figure it out for themselfs. I fully get where he was coming from and this does make a lot of sense. Later Adams would write to him and tell him not to employee Christians in his new university... Adams didn't trust them ... google it..

    January 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      They were Deists. The notion that Jefferson was a Mason has been pretty thoroughly discredited.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  4. OHSNAP[

    hey atheists!! um the 1st congres that every met in this united states spent the 1st four hours going over scripture......now why would they do that if they werent christian ? hmmmmmm?

    January 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Maria K

      No matter what you tell atheists they will still not believe anyone. I wish our founding fathers were still alive and SCREAMED at their face and admitted that they were Christians and found this nation as Christian

      January 11, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Snow

      wild guess, but hey.. umm.. Politics?

      you know the religion had always been the greatest tool in authoritarians hands to control the dumb masses like you..

      January 11, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      No one has said they weren't Christians, although the style of Christianity many of the, including Jefferson, believed in – Deism – would toss a Baptist into fits. Simply because a Christian makes a cake doesn't make it a Christian Cake. What the Founders produced was NOT a Christian nation – it was something profoundly new and very different – a nation with Christians in it that wouldn't impose their religious beliefs on other citizens through the power of the state.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • So

      Uh, duh, they use to have prayer in other places too, eventually it all ended to allow for equal rights. Even if they were christians why do you think they made it clear the separation of church and state. DUH.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • sybaris

      By your logic if I read a cookbook I'm a baker, Cosmo' I'm a woman, Motortrend I'm a mechanic etc. etc..

      You're submitting a fallacy, try again.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      There is no reason for a Christian to NOT uphold separation of church and state. It has always been a demonstrably bad arrangement, and it is just common sense based on past experience to disallow it.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Maria K=crazy

      January 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • chrism

      “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

      – George Washington

      “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”

      – George Washington

      “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable.”

      – George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation 1789

      January 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • chrism

      “I … [rely] upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.” – Samuel Adams

      “We have this day [Fourth of July] restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His Kingdom come.”

      – Samuel Adams

      “The name of the Lord (says the Scripture) is a strong tower; thither the righteous flee and are safe (Proverbs 18:10). Let us secure His favor and He will lead us through the journey of this life and at length receive us to a better.”

      – Samuel Adams

      January 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • chrism

      “The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.” – John Adams

      “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”

      – John Adams

      “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

      – John Adams

      January 11, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • chrism

      It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.- Patrick Henry

      Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is their duty – as well as privilege and interest – of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.

      – John Jay, First Chief-Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

      The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.

      – John Jay

      January 11, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • chrism

      “The only foundation for . . . a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”

      – Benjamin Rush

      January 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • chrism

      God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.

      – Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Memorial

      The Christian religion is the best religion that has ever been given to man

      – Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Memorial

      January 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • chrism

      “I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law … There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying its foundations.”

      – Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, Harvard Speech, 1829

      January 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • chrism

      “[The Bible] is the rock on which our Republic rests.”

      – Andrew Jackson

      January 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • chrism

      “I am busily engaged in study of the Bible.” – Abraham Lincoln

      “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.” – Abraham Lincoln

      “This nation under God”

      – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysberg Address and inscribed on Lincoln Memorial

      “And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God … and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

      – Abraham Lincoln

      January 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • chrism

      “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”

      – Calvin Coolidge

      January 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • chrism

      Ronald Reagan; a prayer for healing (from a speech to the American people, February 6, 1986):

      To preserve our blessed land we must look to God… It is time to realize that we need God more than He needs us… We also have His promise that we could take to heart with regard to our country, that “If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Let us, young and old, join together, as did the First Continental Congress, in the first step, in humble heartfelt prayer. Let us do so for the love of God and His great goodness, in search of His guidance and the grace of repentance, in seeking His blessings, His peace, and the resting of His kind and holy hands on ourselves, our nation, our friends in the defense of freedom, and all mankind, now and always. The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America… Our country is in need of and ready for a spiritual renewal. Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer for peace on Earth. If I had a prayer for you today, among those that have all been uttered, it is that one we’re so familiar with: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace….” And God bless you all.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • ......

      "'chrism"

      Yo, dude aka George. So WHAT! This is NOT a chirsitan nation and never will be because of separation of church and state. What an idiot.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Yo!

      "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 & State." ~ Thomas Jefferson

      January 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • fred

      .......
      Which idiot fred

      January 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • fred

      .......
      Yo is not George as Yo is non existent

      January 11, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • tyler

      are u asking atheists to have common sense? that is asking for too much!

      January 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  5. Chris

    Why did Jefferson take quotes from Jesus Christ & Bible and not from Muhammed (Quran), Torah/Talmud or any other religions other than Christianity? That proofs that he trusted Jesus and was Christian!

    January 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Uh – because he was editing the Bible, not trying to produce an all-encompassing theological tome. Perhaps you're not familiar with the concept of "focus".

      January 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • fred

      he was sittin on the throne with the hinged seat, and it was the book that was handy to cut up.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Maria K

      Chris don't bother arguing with nonbelievers... I tried to do that with my husband for many years and they are the most ignorant people in the planet, that's why they are atheists/agnostics.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • fred

      IGNORE imposter fred

      January 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • sybaris

      Unfortunately for you your Jesus mans philosophy wasn't unique and can be found in religions predating his alleged birth.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • johnnymr51

      If he had lived long enough for translations to arrive, I'm sure he would have.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • johnnymr51

      The same concepts or morality are contained in the Hindu Vedic scriptures that predate Christianity by 6,000 years. JC was only big news in the Middle East...

      January 11, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Maria K is an instance of the circu-mstantial ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

      January 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  6. Matthew/NJ

    We should pass a law that requires every U.S. citizen and newly immigrant to be Christians otherwise they should have an opportunity to convert or leave. I'm serious. I'm sick and tired of Non-Christians living here... they destroy our historic nation!

    January 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      We should pass a law requiring that all citizens born here or immigrating here must learn how to spell and form proper sentences.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • momoya

      You really don't see the problem with that? What about when a few years later a group decided that the members of another group aren't "true christians"? Will you start the whole process over again or what? Your logic is screwy.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • fred

      Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sam Clemens, Thomas Edison...

      January 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • fred

      none of those names are as good as fred. Give me back my name you IMPOSTOR

      January 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • sybaris

      It is unfortunate the Indians didn't think of a similar law regarding their beliefs and also have the means to enforce it.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • millmaster

      What makes America great is that we don't base our laws on religious groups who are prejudiced against nonbelievers. Separation of church and state is critical.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • fred

      get a new name, idiot. I was here first. Stop stalking me.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • fred

      Seek the truth and it will set you free not fred

      January 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Linden Atrocity

      That is quite a bold statement. You obviously don't believe in freedom, or the right for anyone to practice what they like. You think I give a flying F*** what you believe in? No, because I am tolerant. Perhaps you should try being tolerant, and shoving your views and hate down peoples throats. Good-day fool.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Bill

      Matthew, I might see a little problem with your plan. I can trace bath sides of my family in the United States back to the 1700s. I have relatives who have served this nation in every conflict the US has ever been involved in. It is BECAUSE of living in this country that I have EARNED the right, after a lifetime of reflection, to chose not to believe in a deity. It seems ironic that the same people who scream so loudly about the US being the "Home of the Free" are the same people who seem so anxious to restrict and limit those freedoms.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      Matthew/NJ – Make me leave you intolerant bigot! It's actually rigid, uncompromising sheeple like you who are dragging us back into the dark ages.

      What if I said that we should have laws banning religion and that all those who proclaim a religious belief should be made to leave?

      That view would be equally as ridiculous as yours. Grow up, get laid, have fun. You might be happier.

      January 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  7. CSX

    Wicked, shows he was off the rails. He extracted the morals and left the saving grace behind.
    Being smart buys a man nothing but more trouble.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Jefferson would likely tell you to use the brains God gave you.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • fred

      fred
      Still abusing a good name are you. If you spoke the truth once in a while I would let you use my good name

      January 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • millmaster

      If only the plethora of so-called Christians would take as much time to think about what Christ said and taught we'd have a lot less suffering and war in this world. Christ said the two created commandments are to love God and to then love thy neighbor as thyself. IF we did these things, that would be the true miracle.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  8. .

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsl6a0N5LdI&w=640&h=390]

    January 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      And this has-been's opinion means...what, exactly? How long is it gonna be until she starts doing Fiat commercials?

      January 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • fred

      who is Sarah Palin?

      January 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Matthew/NJ

      Pahlin was Alaska's governor

      January 11, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • fred

      give me back my good name you fraud

      January 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      So what theological expertise does that give her?

      January 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  9. Secular woman

    Question to those who say America is not a Christian nation.... then why does the government & state favor Christian holidays and cultures over other religion? Why isn't Eid or Yom Kippur holidays too or instead then? Why are things closed on big Christian holidays and not on Jewish, Muslim or any other religions holiday? Why don't we have non-Christian president? Curios....

    January 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Not a Christofacist

      We dont have a non-christian president because so far, no one has had the BALLS to say the truth, that they dont believe in alll the Christofacist NONSENSe. it will happen on day, trust me.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • DarthWoo

      Presumably because it was far more convenient to have these days as holidays considering that, yes, the majority of people would wish to have them off. It's not conducive to commerce and business if more than half of the workers are taking the day off. If the majority of Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries had been Muslim or Jewish, I'd imagine the holidays would be different. We haven't had any openly non-Christian presidents because there is obviously an unfortunate prejudice by many voters against non-Christians. That does not indicate any sort of official stance of this country being a Christian nation, only that there are a lot of Christians in this nation.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Eric G

      Social traditions.

      But your post does make me notice something that I think needs to change. I think we need to start a movement to create two national holidays. Halloween, and the day after the Superbowl.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Uh – you must mean Christmas. It is the only Federal holiday shared with Christianity. Oddly, it is the one holiday that is called into question by many Christian sects, who believe it should emphatically NOT be celebrated. It is also a secular holiday, and derives directly from ancient midwinter feast days that existed long before Christianity. Again: the US is a nation with Christians in it – it is NOT a Christian nation.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Curios"? What about them? DId you perhaps mean "curious"?

      No, you're not, you fraud. The fact that religious holidays are recognized doesn't matter a damn bit. This is a secular country, whether or not Christians are in the majority. Do you think that if males were in the majority that it would make this a "male" country?

      Silly.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  10. J

    Why does it seem that any disagreement with a person's faith turn into "an attack on religion"? Is their faith so weak to not withstand debate? Is the ancient history of philosophical discussions in ALL religions to be ignored? Is the heavily edited book called "THE Bible" not to be remembered to be a conglomeration of ancient texts cherry picked by politicians at the time? (Church leaders were politicians and still are, do not be fooled.) Will we ever arrive at the beautiful time when we ALL say to each other, as one, "Our race is human, our God is Love, and our religion is oneness"?

    January 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Jennifer hunt

      Because atheists are the ones' who start to argue and fight with religious people and cannot accept the truth. They should create their own nation and keep it godless over there :/

      January 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • chrism

      J, what post are you referring to. I admit I didn't read all the comments but I don't recall seeing one that claimed this article is an attack on religion.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Snow

      @jennifer, The wind blows both ways girlie..

      Did you ever try to look at it from the other side? It would spell as, "Because Christians are the ones' who start to argue and fight with regular people and cannot accept the truth".

      Well, what is your version of truth?
      – flying sky daddy impregnating a virgin girl?
      – dead body raising after 3 days?
      – woman turning to salt?
      – burning bush talking?

      are these all "truths"? Fact is, you have this inherent urge to be judgmental and proclaim yourself as the only ones who know the truth. You just can not accept that others can have a valid point against you. Sad bunch you are and am sure your so called "god" must be so proud of your way of life. pfft..

      January 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • fred

      Snow
      You may just be onto something. The Jewish people were targeted by just about everyone and one of the main reasons is they knew God and thought they were the chosen ones. Even though God warned them time again to stop with the proud att-itude they did not.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who says it's the "truth"? It's what YOU believe, and that's all. It's not "truth" except in your opinion.

      Why should YOUR opinion hold sway? The fact is that this is a secular nation. No one is required to worship as you seem to think they should, honey. If you want to live somewhere that operates that way, I hear Iran is lovely.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  11. Arnett

    I'm proud that I moved from Iraq to a Christian nation here in the USA :)

    January 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Welcome to a nation with Christians in it. Not a Christian nation.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • CSX

      Amen...the remanant is still here. Hod fast to God, our passport is not of this world

      January 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • CSX

      Amen...the remanant is still here. Hold fast to God, our passport is not of this world

      January 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • chrism

      Praise God, Arnett, this Christian nation is blessed to have you. :)

      January 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      ChrismJi zm, you're just delusional.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  12. Mercyme

    ?

    January 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  13. Jewish mom

    ATHEISM IS NOT HEALTHY FOR OUR CHILDREN AND LIVING THINGS!! Atheism = Nazism! Stalin and all terrible leaders were all atheists !! atheists are atheists to mess up with people with faith and anti- God and anti- humanity. STAY AWAY FROM US!!

    January 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Eric G

      I know you are probably a troll, but I will play along for those keeping score at home.

      Hitler was a Christian. Stalin actually spent several years in seminary school.

      Just to clarify...... If I am an atheist and you demand that I believe, can I choose which god to believe in or am I forced to believe in yours? Sound like you are the Nazi.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Jewish mom

      I love when people call me a troll when they know I'm telling the truth. Even though I disagree with Christians belief, I must admitt that Hitler later rejected his faith and belief.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • chrism

      "I love when people call me a troll when they know I'm telling the truth." Which part was the truth? When you said "stay away from us (atheists)?" Or when you were mocking another poster by sarcastically using their words that atheism is not healthy?

      January 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • DarkBronzePlant

      POSTING MESSAGES IN ALL-CAPS IS NOT HEALTHY FOR OUR CHILDREN AND LIVING THINGS, EITHER!!!

      January 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Eric G

      Please answer the question. Would you force others to believe in your god?

      Also, please be careful when using the word "truth". If you insist on it's use, I will be forced to ask you for verifiable evidence to support your claims that your god exists, which you have not and cannot provide.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Aww, shaddup and make me some chicken soup, JM.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  14. SixDegrees

    Looks like the Southern Baptists are spreading the word about this article. Predictably, they're not happy.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  15. Kraig Derstler

    I am frequently dismayed with how far the USA has fallen - from such spiritual and intellectual heights as Jefferson's to the hellish depths where contemporary Christian fundies dwell. It's not too late for us to wash off the fundamentalist mud...

    January 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  16. Richard Aberdeen

    What the Jefferson Bible proves is that the Supreme Court, ACLU and so-called "progressives" are completely full of bull. No honest person would pretend that someone who attempeted to re-write the Bible while a sitting president and, make plans to have it published, again while a sitting president, would being favor of keeping the Bible out of our history, philosophy, ethics, human behavior, science and other text books. Jefferson clearly stood for the exact opposite of Americans United Against Sanity and Reason, when he said he didn't care if someone believes in 20 Gods or no god, they all have a right to speak in science, history, English and every other public classroom. AUSCS=Complete BullS-rs.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • MikeH

      You got that completely wrong, but you tried hard. It was Jefferson's personal beliefs, and he worked steadfastly to make sure his "version" was not published. It was a personal exercise for his own deeper understanding to be communicated only with select friends. Jefferson was not against the Bible being a part of American culture, but he was dead set it being ingrained by the government and denying other views from being a part of the culture. More than anything, Jefferson was against any church, as defined by leadership and prescribed actions and beliefs, influencing government. You should study more of Jefferson's writings.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Eric G

      As with all believers, you have "interpreted" text to fit with your worldview.

      You are dishonest.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • DarthWoo

      I find it amusing that in his day, Jefferson was considered an infidel and practically heretical, and yet today, this poster sees Jefferson + Bible and latches onto it as though Jefferson was a fellow fundie. Nobody has ever said that the Bible doesn't have a place in certain classes. It would be ridiculous to claim that Christianity hasn't had an influence on world history, whether for good or ill. The Bible itself is an interesting text for literature classes, particularly to pick it apart for its various contradictions and errors. Science, on the other hand, is pretty much incompatible with it. To believe without any evidence in many of the preposterous claims put forth by the Bible runs completely contrary to the Scientific Method. There are scientists out there who have sworn to dismiss any evidence they find in favor of what they read in the Bible. They are the very ant.ithesis of scientists.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • rico

      epic fail at reading comprehension. read the article again. this was his own, personal reorganization of the gospels into a moral code for himself and a select group of friends he chose to share it with. sheesh.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  17. Julisa

    Atheists needs to shut up now and face the truth and accept the fact that U.S. is and has always been a Christian nation !! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

    January 11, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      you sound crazy.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • GoRemote

      A nation of Christians.......Big difference.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      You make Jesus sad. God suggests you try a new religion for three weeks then volunteer at a soup kitchen.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      For most people, the "shut up and listen" argument tends to lose its effect after the age of 8.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Not a Christofacist

      Actually... its you christofacist America hater types who need to STFU.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      Julisa/Jewish Mom – I have faced the truth and that truth is that sad little people like you are nothing but rabid chihuahuas backed into a corner and frothing at the mouth at anyone that you feel is threatening your little reality.

      Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to reality, something you're not very familiar with.

      January 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  18. Matt

    USA is a Christian country of fallowing reasons: * Christmas Day is a federal holiday. * Good Friday is a holiday in 11 states. * Easter Sunday is flag day. * "In God We Trust" is our national motto and on currency. * 80% are Christians. * All presidents are Christians. *Most of the founding fathers were Christians. *Our culture is predominately Christian. * Still many Sunday blue laws across the nation.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Wrong. America is a nation with Christians living in it. It is emphatically NOT a Christian nation. The founders took great pains to ensure that no religious would dominate the nation's politics, having seen first hand the horrific damage such an arrangement could and inevitably does cause.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      All based on Pagan and ancient Egyptian holidays. Face it. There is no supernatural person and current religions borrow from the previous popular religions to gather members. Religions work much the same way as modern day corporations with marketing and product development.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • SAM

      Matt, I hope you're writing this 'tongue in cheek'. To assume that because of all the reasons you state that the US is a Christian country is misguided. Many US presidents were also Masons who, ultimately deny Jesus by the 30th degree or sooner. Not every bum in the pew of a christian church actually knows Christ as is well noted with all the horrors that the KKK committed in the name of God. There are soooo many examples...I just needed to comment on your post. As Keith Green said, "going to church doesn't make you a christian any more than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger".

      January 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      Actually, US culture is influenced by Pagan gods a lot more...
      January is named after the Roman god Janus. March is named after Mars – the Roman god of war.... oh, and the days of the week: Sunday (the Sun god), Monday (the moon goddess), Tuesday (the god Tyr), Wednesday (the god Odin), Thursday (Thor)... you get the picture.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Easter Sunday is flag day?

      Do tell.

      January 11, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  19. Dolores

    We talked about this in college American Lit class several years ago. Not exactly revolutionary news.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Perhaps oddly, it was the first I had heard of it, so I was glad to run across the article. It fits nicely with what I already knew about Jefferson's Deism, but I somehow missed this particular facet. I will be downloading a version to my Kindle shortly.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  20. Jesus H. Christ

    BRAVO!

    This is what the world needs. I never performed any supernatural deeds, nor did I intend for the authors of my stories to write them that way forty years after I died when the New testament was first being scribed. By the way forty years was a life time back then, so most of the accounts are totally misrepresented just to capture an audience – literally.

    January 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
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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.