Blog posts may be reprinted without permission,
provided a link to www.JeffersonLeadership.com is included.

Category Archives: Religion

Will you buy one? Yes!

I … solicit thy patronage to a work which I am about to print … It is Brown’s of Haddington, historical, Geographical, Chronological, Etymological and Critical Dictionary of the Holy Bible
its matter is merely intended to elucidate the Holy Scriptures, and not to favor the favourite dogma of Sect or party …
My intention is to have it neatly done, and printed on paper made within thirty miles of this place, and bound in skins of the growth of our hills & vallie’s …
Pittsburgh is becoming a place of business—much of a manufacturing town—I want to lend my assistance in my way, to forward its progress…
I am thy unknown friend.
Zadok Cramer to Thomas Jefferson, Febry 14, 1805

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to mr Cramer and subscribes with pleasure for a copy of Brown’s dictionary of the bible which he proposes to print at Pittsburg.
Thomas Jefferson to Zadok Cramer, March 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders enjoy having their right buttons pushed!
At age 31, the entrepreneurial Cramer (1773-1814) had already established himself as a bookbinder and publisher in western Pennsylvania. He wanted the President to be the first pledge to buy his reprint of a comprehensive Bible dictionary.
Thomas Jefferson was all in, for multiple reasons:
1. He loved books!
2. He was a student of the Bible and a supporter of religion in general.
3. This work was to educate only, not proselytize.
4. It would be produced entirely in America, with local paper for printing and local leather for binding.
5. It would showcase the product of a western businessman in a prospering western city.

This sketch highlights the enterprising Cramer. Although it makes no mention of this book, in early 1808 he shipped the first of two volumes of the Dictionary to the President.

“In addition to giving you high ratings, participants repeatedly indicated
that you were “inspiring,” “very educational,” and “outstanding.” “

Conference Manager, Nebraska Association of School Boards
Does that sound promising for your audience?
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Commerce, Religion Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

God help me. God help us. Part 13

I shall need too the favour of that being in whose hands we are: who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land; and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries & comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with his providence, & our riper years with his wisdom & power: & to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me, that he will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, & prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, & shall secure to you the peace, friendship, & approbation of all nations.
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders freely acknowledge the need of a higher power.
In the previous post, Thomas Jefferson asked his constituent’s help in his second term. Now, he asked God’s. He affirmed God’s hand in establishing, protecting, provisioning and empowering America.

He asked their prayers be added to his, for enlightened leaders, guidance in their debates, and success in their efforts.  The citizens’ good and peace with other nations were the goals.

While the President was not a Christian, neither was he a deist, as often described. Deists held the “clockmaker” doctrine, that God made the universe (the clock), wound it up, and left it to run itself. Jefferson believed in a more benevolent God, one involved in human affairs and who rewarded in an afterlife based on good deeds in this one.

This is the last in a series of 13 posts drawn from Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address. Jefferson lacked a strong public speaking voice and conveyed it to the public and the Congress in writing.
“I wish to express my sincere appreciation for your professional presentation …
before our rather large audience.”
Executive Director, Western Coal Transportation Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.
Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, go to FoundersArchives.gov. Cut a few words from the letter in the post, paste them into the search box at the top, with beginning and ending quotation marks, and click the GO button. The correct letter … should … come up.
Or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Religion Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Hands off God, again. Part 6

In matters of Religion, I have considered that it’s free exercise is placed by the constitution independant of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it: but have left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction & discipline of the state or church authorities acknoleged by the several religious societies.
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Strict constructionist leaders take the Constitution at its word.
This single paragraph in its entirety sums up Thomas Jefferson’s views on the national government’s role in religion:
1. The Constitution set religion apart as independent of that government.
2. Accordingly, he authorized no national days of prayer, fasting or thanksgiving.
3. Religious observances were left to state or church authorities.

The word “again” appears in this headline, referencing a 2013 post with the same subject and title.

“You put a great amount of effort into this talk …
a lot of research into medical practice in the 18th century.”
Clinical Laboratory Management Association, Central New York Chapter
Mr. Jefferson goes to great lengths to be relevant to your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-273
Leave a comment Posted in Constitutional issues, Religion, Sally Hemings Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Reverse course and leave the church alone!

I think it was an error in our officer to shut the doors of the church, & in the Governor to refer it to the Roman catholic head. The priests must settle their differences in their own way, provided they commit no breach of the peace. If they break the peace they should be arrested. On our principles all church-discipline is voluntary; and never to be enforced by the public authority; but on the contrary to be punished when it extends to acts of force. The Govr. should restore the keys of the church to the priest who was in possession.
To James Madison, July 5, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Constitutional leaders protect people’s rights to protest peacefully.
Louisiana Governor Claiborne wrote to Secretary of State Madison about strongly disputing factions within a Catholic Church in New Orleans. A local officer, fearing the public might be endangered, locked the church doors, forbade either side entrance, and asked a more senior official in the Church to decide the matter.

Jefferson called this a mistake. Disputants within the church who broke no laws were not subject to any government action. This was the same theme as in his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, enacted more than 20 years before. That law, which dis-established the official church in his home state, limited government involvement in church affairs to people’s illegal actions only. In 1790, the First Amendment to the Constitution clearly tied the national government’s hands in most church matters.

The President ordered the return of the church’s keys.

“Thank you so much for the great job
you did as Thomas Jefferson.”
Missouri Mappers Association
Mr. Jefferson will do a great job for your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Louisiana, Religion Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

The fake news possibilities are endless!

I … learnt the death of Dr. Priestly … [and] request that you will be so kind as to take measures to prevent my letter & syllabus from ever getting into other hands. you know that if I write as a text that two and two are four, it serves to make volumes of sermons of slander and abuse.
To Thomas Cooper, February 24, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Thin-skinned leaders shouldn’t add fuel to the fire.
Jefferson had sent his comparison of Jesus and other philosophers to Joseph Priestly, who had since died. The President guarded closely his personal views on religion and shared them only with very few trusted friends. Both Cooper and Priestly were in that select company. He asked Cooper’s help in keeping those private papers private.

Jefferson was always sensitive to criticism, convinced his political opponents would twist anything against him. In this example, he claimed that if he wrote publicly two plus two equaled four, his enemies would make that the basis for volumes of abuse.

“Your well-researched portrayals President Thomas Jefferson and Captain William Clark
were highlights of the five-day event.”
Director, Prairieland Chautauqua, Jacksonville, IL
Invite Thomas Jefferson (or his friends Boone & Clark) to highlight your meeting!
Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Personalities of others, Religion Tagged , , , , , , |

We agree on three essential principles!

The satisfaction which you express …  with the substitution of economy for taxation, & the progress and prospect exhibited of the discharge of our public debt within a convenient period, is a proof of that soundness of [your] political principle … the preference you give to the late acquisition of territory by just & peaceable means, rather than by rapine & bloodshed, is in the genuine spirit of that primitive Christianity, which so peculiarly inculcated the doctrines of peace, justice, and good will to all mankind.
To the Portsmouth, Virginia Baptist Society, January 20, 1804

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
All leaders appreciate an atta-boy!
In a November 1803 letter to the President, the Society expressed their appreciation for the direction of the new government. Jefferson acknowledged their thank-you and reiterated three areas of agreement:
1. Better for government to do less rather than tax more.
2. Prudent to have a specific plan for paying off the national debt.
3. Acquiring Louisiana by diplomacy and not war demonstrated “that primitive Christianity” characterized by “peace, justice and good will to all mankind.”

“As a surprise guest speaker,
“Mr. Jefferson” captured and enthralled our bankers night after night.”
Executive Vice President, Missouri Bankers Association
Let Mr. Jefferson enthrall your audience!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Government's proper role, Religion Tagged , , , , , , , , |

I will tell close friends only and no one else.

A promise to a friend sometime ago, executed but lately, has placed my religious creed on paper. I am desirous it should be perused by three or four particular friends, with whom tho’ I never desired to make a mystery of it, yet no occasion has happened to occur of explaining it to them. it is communicated for their personal satisfaction, & to enable them to judge of the truth or falsehood of the libels published on that subject. when read, the return of the paper with this cover is asked.
To Henry Dearborn and Levi Lincoln, April 23, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders trust close associates with personal revelation.
In the preceding post, Jefferson shared his personal religious beliefs, in the form of a Syllabus, with an old friend, Benjamin Rush. In this letter, he shared that same information with two of his Cabinet members, Secretary of War Dearborn and Attorney General Lincoln.

Although Jefferson believed his personal views should remain private, he had no hesitation in sharing them with close friends. Writing the Syllabus for Dr. Rush also gave him the opportunity to send copies to several trusted associates. Jefferson was widely criticized in the opposition press on the subject of religion. He could not change what his opponents thought of him, but he did care what his friends thought. Sharing this very private, personal information would allow his friends “to judge of the truth or falsehood” of what they read in the papers.

Always sensitive to criticism and wary of adding fuel to his opponent’s fire, he insisted Dearborn and Lincoln return their copies of the Syllabus along with this cover letter.

“Your portrayal of Thomas Jefferson was riveting.
What a wonderful thing to be learning history and at the same time be so entertained.”
Executive Director, Illinois Court Reporters Association
The best teachers are also entertaining.
Invite Thomas Jefferson to do both. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Religion Tagged , , , , , , , |

The rest of that stuff is fake news.

to the corruptions of Christianity, I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence, & believing he never claimed any other. .. I am moreover averse to the communication of my religious tenets to the public; because it would countenance [support] the presumption of those who have endeavored to draw them before that tribunal, and to seduce public opinion to erect itself into that Inquisition over the rights of conscience, which the laws have so justly proscribed.
To Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
All leaders pick and choose what they will believe.
In writing to his old friend and confidante, Jefferson expressed views very similar to those in his letter to Edward Dowse, the source of the preceding four posts. He expressed his devotion to Jesus, asserted his own Christianity, and warned his friend to keep the matter between the two of them and explained why.

As “to the corruptions of Christianity,” these would be everything in the four gospels that Jefferson thought shouldn’t be there (the unprovable, the miraculous and anything divine), ‘fake news’ in 2018 parlance. His version of Christianity was devotion to Jesus the man, only, and his teachings.

Jefferson did not want to share his “religious tenets” with the public. To do so would support the position of those who thought they had a right to know those beliefs. The Constitution and laws were properly limited to people’s actions only, not their thoughts. No individual or public forum had the right to inquire into what the Constitution decreed as private.

If you care to wade through it, Jefferson enclosed this document with his letter, “Doctrines of Jesus Compared with Others.”

“I also want to thank you for your high degree of professionalism … working with presenters who are reliable, self-reliant and efficient makes my job a whole lot easier.”
President, National Association of Workforce Development Professionals
Patrick Lee will make your job easier!
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Religion Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Your religion is NONE of my business!

[This post is the last of four from this one letter.]

… I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right of enquiry into the religious opinions of others. on the contrary we are bound, you, I, & every one, to make common cause, even with error itself, to maintain the common right of freedom of conscience. we ought with one heart and one hand to hew [cut] down the daring and dangerous efforts of those who would seduce the public opinion to substitute itself into that tyranny over religious faith which the laws have so justly abdicated. for this reason, were my opinions up to the standard of those who arrogate [claim without justification] the right of questioning them, I would not countenance that arrogance by descending to an explanation.
To Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Principled leaders respect the privacy of all moral beliefs.
Concluding a letter in which Jefferson wrote openly about his appreciation for the superiority of Jesus’ teaching while respecting the contribution of others to the moral canon, he took direct aim at those who sought to inquire into this most private realm:
1. He vowed total opposition to religious intolerance or even questioning another’s beliefs.
2. All are bound to support “the common right of freedom of conscience,” even for those they believe to be in error.
3. Since the Constitution guaranteed religious freedom, the efforts of those who sought any form of religious tyranny should be destroyed.
4. He would not dignify with answers the inquiries of those who claimed a right to question his religious beliefs.

” … our sincere appreciation to you for your exceptional presentation …”
President/GM, Missouri Association, Mutual Insurance Companies
Mr. Jefferson adds a unique and memorable dimension to your conference.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Leave a comment Posted in Morality, Personal preferences, Religion Tagged , , , , , , , |

Jesus compared with other moral authorities, Part 3 of 4

[This post is the third of four drawn from this one letter.]

… their philosophy [all ancient moral authorities except Jesus] went chiefly to the government of our passions, so far as respected ourselves, & the procuring our own tranquility. on our duties to others they were short & deficient. they extended their cares scarcely beyond our kindred & friends individually, & our country in the abstract. Jesus embraced, with charity & philanthropy, our neighbors, our countrymen, & the whole family of mankind. they confined themselves to actions: he pressed his scrutinies into the region of our thoughts, & called for purity at the fountain
To Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
How broad is a leader’s compassion? What is its source?
In the preceding post, Jefferson took issue with another who established Jesus’ superior moral standing by criticizing all other philosophers. Here, Jefferson compared and contrasted what each contributed to the moral canon.

All other ancient philosophers:
1. Taught self-control as a means to personal happiness and contentment
2. Were concerned only for family and friends and abstractly for the government
3. Rarely showed concern for those beyond their immediate circle
4. Confined themselves to actions only, not the motivation for those actions

Jesus:
1. Founded his philosophy on love and generosity
2. Embraced all people, near and far, on that basis
3. Was concerned not with action alone but the internal motivation for that action
4. Good behavior was not enough. Purity of motive was essential, too.

“… many of our attendees found the presentation
to be refreshingly different and innovative.”
President, FOCUS Publications, Inc.
Want something truly different, refreshing, and memorable and for your audience?
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
1 Comment Posted in Morality, Religion Tagged , , , , , , , , |