The 2011, SMITHSONIAN EDITION of “THE JEFFERSON BIBLE: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted Textually from the Gospels in Greek, Latin, French and English” and opens a window into the spirit of a revolutionary complex and contradictory man.
Jefferson understood himself to be a true Christian and he proved so by remaining mute to the brutal and unjust accusations against him of being a deist, atheist, anti-religion and antichrist.
Reality is that Jefferson took Jesus so seriously, that he devoted twelve years of his life to literally cutting away all the miracle stories from the gospels in four different languages from the King James Bible and gluing all the passages of Jesus as a teacher and philosopher, onto pages that were bound between covers of straight-grain red morocco- a goat skin that is laboriously processed for over two months and tanned with sumac.
In 1902, Congressman John F. Lacey, a devout Christian, introduced a resolution for the printing of a facsimile of Jefferson’s private piety to be distributed to Congress and up until the 1950’s, every newly elected member of the Senate received a copy on the very day they swore their oath of office.
Lacey responded to the many critics who argued that stripping Jesus of his divinity was blasphemy: “No one that examines this little volume, whether he be saint or sinner, will rise from his perusal without having a loftier idea of the teachings of our Savior.”
On his tombstone, Jefferson expressed that he wanted to be remembered as the Author of the Declaration of American Independence, the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and the Father of the University of Virginia.
The ideas that were “self-evident” to America’s Founding Fathers were the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment which put forth the primacy of human reason, conscience and inherent human rights as it called for public education.
The inscription under the Dome of the Jefferson Memorial reads: “I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
He wrote those words first to Dr. Benjamin Rush, in his search for a rational Christianity that could not be found in the corruptions, misconceptions, superstitions and “priest craft” that became self-evident in the days of Emperor Constantine with Augustine’s JUST WAR heresy: Read more…
Rush was raised in the evangelical “New Light” Presbyterian tradition of the 1730’s and his faith laid emphasis on the individual’s personal and emotional communion with God and believers who relied on the Bible and not the teachings of clergymen.
Rush was also a Philadelphia physician, scientist and an active force in humanitarian efforts to end African American slavery.
Rush wrote, “The truths of Christianity dwell alike in the mind of the Deity, and reason and religion are equally the offspring of his goodness.”
While watching Philly’s Grand Procession to celebrate the U.S. Constitution in 1788, Rush saw what was a profoundly “American parade…a rabbi walked with arms linked between a Catholic priest and Protestant clergy-man.”
Rush “always considered Christianity as the strong ground of Republicanism” -which is what we call democracy today.
In 1800, Rush wrote Jefferson, that this nation could only be steadied and the promise of the Revolution secured for future generations; if it is grounded in Christian morals and faith that are clarified by reason.
Jefferson’s friend and compatriot Thomas Paine “saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion” soon after publishing “Common Sense” which was the spark that united the scattered disparate groups of colonists to rise up against the British Occupation of this homeland.
Paine was later condemned as the “ungodly author of THE AGE OF REASON” for offering God as creator while rejecting the divinity of Jesus and denouncing clerical power. Paine also wrote:
A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.
Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
Every religion is good that teaches man to be good; and I know of none that instructs him to be bad.
Is it not a species of blasphemy to call the New Testament revealed religion, when we see in it such contradictions and absurdities.
Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.
I imagine God and the angels might agree with these Top Ten Teachings of Jesus as gleaned from THE JEFFERSON BIBLE:
1. Be just and justice comes from virtue, which comes from the heart.
2. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
3. Always work for PEACEFUL resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with COMPASSION.
4. Consider valuable the things that have no material value.
5. Do not judge others.
6. Do not bear grudges.
7. Be modest and unpretentious.
8. Give out of true generosity, not because one expects to be repaid or acknowledged.
9. Being true to one’s self in more important than being loyal to one’s family and following ones conscience is the only way to do it.
10. Those who think they know the most are the most ignorant.
Jefferson also wrote:
“Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion…” – “A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom”
“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. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Establish a law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state and on a general plan.”
“I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
If we truly “hold these truths to be self-evident: That all [people] are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights…that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among [people] deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the RIGHT of the people to ALTER or to ABOLISH it” may we also know that Governments have obligations, people have rights and among our rights is the obligation to hold our Government accountable.
I imagine this government and all who claim to be Christian would do well to read and think upon The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth by Thomas Jefferson but until you go there, I offer my spin on The Sermon on The Mount-which is the Christian Manifesto and tells the story of when Jesus of Nazareth was about 33 and hiked up a hill, sat down under an olive tree and began to teach the people:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”
In other words: it is those who know their own spiritual poverty, their own limitations and ‘sins’ honestly and trust God loves them in spite of themselves who already live in the Kingdom of God. How comforted we will all be, when we see, we haven’t got a clue, as to the depth and breadth of pure love and mercy of The Divine Mystery of The Universe.
God’s name in ancient Aramaic is Abba which means Daddy as much as Mommy and He/She: The Lord has said, “My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not yours.” -Isaiah 55:8
Christ proclaimed more: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
The essence of meek is to be patient with ignorance, slow to anger and never hold a grudge. In other words: how comforted you will be when you also know humility; when you know yourself, the good and the bad, for both cut through every human heart.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled.”
In other words: how comforted you will be when your greatest desire is to do what “God requires, and he has already told you what that is; BE JUST, BE MERCIFUL and walk humbly with your Lord.”-Micah 6:8
“Blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mercy.”
In other words: how comforted you will all be when you choose to return only kindness to your ‘enemy.’
“For with the measure you measure against another, it will be measured back to you” Christ warns his disciples as he explains the law of karma in Luke 6:27-38.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God.”
In other words: how comforted you will be when you WAKE UP and see God is already within you, within every man, every woman and every child. The Supreme Being is everywhere, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. Beyond The Universe -and yet so small; within the heart of every atom.
“Blessed are The Peacemakers: THEY shall be called the children of God.”
And what a wonderful world it would be when we all seek peace by pursuing justice; for there can be none without the other.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires, theirs is The Kingdom of Heaven.”
And one fine day the lion will lie down with The Lamb and man will make war no more; and that will create the Kingdom of God on planet earth. 
I IMAGINE Jefferson and Paine would agree that the world is one country, all people are sisters and brothers, doing good is good religion and if there is to be any church; Let It Be The Earth:
22 April is Earth Day and this article is my Easter Offering.
I am Eileen Fleming for US HOUSE and I approve of all of my messages.