Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jefferson Bible: Newly Restored, Still Misunderstood

USA Today reports that the famous Jefferson Bible is being restored. This Bible contained the story of Jesus' life in chronological order, but it left out some of the miracles and resurrection. This fact is presented in the article, and later in the article it is said that Jefferson never sold it because he didn't want the give support to the claims that he was not a Christian. Those facts are probably all true, but they don't tell the whole story. And by not telling the rest of the story, they leave a false impression. It also leaves the impression that Jefferson left out all the miracles, even though there is evidence that some were originally included.

Jefferson was not an ideal Christian by my personal definition, but he called himself a Christian. And in the case of this Bible, his goal was not (apparently) to deny the miracles or resurrection, but was instead to make the Bible more understandable and acceptable for a primer for the Indians - to help show the Indians Jesus' teachings. In today's common concept of Jefferson - that he wanted a complete separation of church and state - this seems very odd indeed. Why would a President and Founding Father, if he believed in keeping religion far from government, create a Bible to give to the Native Americans of his time?

Read more about Jefferson's edition of the Bible here:
The Jefferson Bible

Also, look at the University of Virginia's Jefferson Library (once on the page, search for the word "indians"):
About the Jefferson Bible, from University of Virginia

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Invite Me Anywhere, Just Not to Church

The First Amendment seems so clear to me. First, the wording is clear and concise. Second, there are ample examples of the interpretations of the men who wrote it to demonstrate what they thought about it. Surely one demand of the First Amendment is NOT to allow all manner of speech as long as it is not religious.

Pocono Mountain School District is being sued over a supposed First Amendment issue. Students are allowed to pass out to their classmates all sorts of invitations to events. Halloween parties are fine, birthday parties are fine, Valentine's dances are fine, even some paid events are fine. But a student was barred from handing out an invitation to a free Christmas party at a church.

Many, if not most, public schools have become overly nervous about any hint of religious speech or actions within school property. The blame the constraints of the First Amendment, which is not accurate but is widely believed. But surely some of these officials must see that when you allow students to share invitations to all events except religious ones, that is hostility to religion more than neutrality to religion. This is more obvious when you consider that the handing out was done during non-instructional time before classes.

This blog is peppered with examples of our Founders supporting religion in public life and in public schools. The few Founders who may have been resistant to such support would still have insisted on neutrality.

Our country went through some troubling times when people with colored skin were treated different. Sometimes Jews were treated differently; sometimes Irish were treated differently. Now it may be a time when religious people are treated differently.

Read the story below: