Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jefferson on Religion's Importance to Good Government

President Thomas Jefferson is one of our most famous Founders. He has a gift for crafting documents and contributed enormously to beauty of our Declaration of Independence. As with anyone who wrote a lot, his quotes can sometimes be used in ways he did not intend. The most frequent example I can think of is his phrase "separation of church and state." Some would have us believe via those words that Jefferson did want religion to come anywhere near government. Yet that was not his own practice.

Perhaps the best way to better understand Jefferson is to look at more of his quotes about the relationship between religion and government. Many such are already posted on this blog and here is one more example. Jefferson used the "separation" phrase in a particular way. He meant to assure the reader that government would not create a national religion and force others to follow it; he more frequently uses the theme "freedom of religion." Consider the following quote, found within the University of Virginia's Jefferson collection (Jefferson founded the U. of VA):

"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 

Read more here:

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