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Thomas Jefferson on keeping religious beliefs private

I am moreover averse to the communication of my religious tenets to the public; because it would countenance [favor] 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 Dr. Benjamin Rush, 1802, 1622

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Whew! Mr. Jefferson’s writing is usually relatively easy to understand. This passage, not so much. Let’s consider the points he made.
1. He really does not want to make his religious views public. Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines “averse” as “having an active feeling of repugnance or distaste.”
2. To do so would encourage those who want to make religious opinions a matter for public (political!) discussion.
3. That discussion would seduce people into thinking they had the right to question another’s religious views.
3. The laws properly prohibit that very thing.
Read the handwritten text of this one page letter here. It contains another famous (and disputed) passage, “… 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 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.”

Learn what other protections Mr. Jefferson desires for you!
Invite him to address your audience.
Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739


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2 Responses to Thomas Jefferson on keeping religious beliefs private

  1. Jerry Garrett says:

    So . . . . . . what would Thomas Jefferson say about Rick Santorum?

  2. Patrick Lee says:

    He probably would not agree, but neither would he make that disagreement public. He would respect Santorum’s right to have a different opinion.
    These posts give more insight into Jefferson’s go-along-get-along attitude.

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