Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thomas Jefferson: Religious Freedom Is Best Support for Good Government

Thomas Jefferson is often used to justify eliminating religious recognition in public, especially by government officials, by prayer before meetings, etc. This is due to the phrase once used in a letter: "separation of church and state."

But Jefferson apparently did not mean those words in the way that at least some people apply them today. He was not afraid government recognition of religion. He invoked it himself, he approved the Holy Bible for reading in public schools, he specified various religious purposes for the faculty and grounds of the state-funded University of Virginia (of which he was founder). From that university's collection of Jefferson's writings, we find this quote:

"Among the most inestimable of our blessings, also, is that... of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to John Thomas et al., 1807. ME 16:291

1 comment:

Dirk said...

It's amazing how many people actually believe "separation of church and state" is in the Constitution.

Good post!