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Thomas Jefferson On Religion | Thinking out loud

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  • By contrast, Thomas Jefferson, a central figure in Spellberg’s book, had a strong, lifelong commitment to religious liberty. Jefferson rejected toleration, the alternative perspective and one embraced by John Locke and John Adams, as grounded on the idea that a religious majority has a right to impose its will on a religious minority, but chooses to be tolerant for reasons of benevolence. Religious liberty, Jefferson argued, denies the majority any right to coerce a dissenting minority, even one hostile to religion. Jefferson rejected using government power to coerce religious belief and practice because it would create a nation of tyrants and hypocrites, as it is impossible to force someone to believe against the promptings of his conscience. Jefferson embraced religious liberty and separation of church and state to protect the individual human mind and the secular political realm from the corrupting alliance of church and state. His political ally James Madison, echoing Roger Williams, the seventeenth-century Baptist religious leader and founder of Rhode Island, added that separation of church and state also would protect the garden of the church from a corrupting alliance with the wilderness of the secular world.

    By contrast, Thomas Jefferson, a central figure in Spellberg’s book, had a strong, lifelong commitment to religious liberty. Jefferson rejected toleration, the alternative perspective and one embraced by John Locke and John Adams, as grounded on the idea that a religious majority has a right to impose its will on a religious minority, but chooses to be tolerant for reasons of benevolence. Religious liberty, Jefferson argued, denies the majority any right to coerce a dissenting minority, even one hostile to religion. Jefferson rejected using government power to coerce religious belief and practice because it would create a nation of tyrants and hypocrites, as it is impossible to force someone to believe against the promptings of his conscience. Jefferson embraced religious liberty and separation of church and state to protect the individual human mind and the secular political realm from the corrupting alliance of church and state. His political ally James Madison, echoing Roger Williams, the seventeenth-century Baptist religious leader and founder of Rhode Island, added that separation of church and state also would protect the garden of the church from a corrupting alliance with the wilderness of the secular world.

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    General studies on Jefferson and religion include Edwin Gaustad, (1996), Charles Sanford, (1984), Eugene Sheridan, (1998), and Paul Conkin, "The Religious Pilgrimage of Thomas Jefferson" in Peter Onuf, ed., (1993). Henry Wilder Foote's, (1947) is an interested study proclaiming Jefferson's Unitarianism. On Jefferson and religious freedom, see , Merrill Peterson and Robert Vaughan, eds. (1988). A classic work on Jefferson and natural philosophy is Daniel Boorstin's (1948.)

    "I'm Arius of Alexandria, the talk of the town:" the Roots of UnitarianismMichael Servetus and the Rebirth of "Anti-trinitarianism"Servetus, Calvin, Socinus, and the Spread of Unitarianism"A sect unto myself:" Three Points of Jefferson's Beliefs
        
    Jefferson, the DeistThe most sublime system of morals:" Jefferson's JesusWas Jefferson a Unitarian?Questions: When did Jefferson find common cause with with Presbyrterians and Baptists and did he find conflict?
        
       
    Questions: Did Jefferson believe in prayer?   
     
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  • 1. 'Of A Sect By Myself.'
    In a letter dated June 25, 1819, Jefferson his religious beliefs this way: "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."

Jefferson's Religious Beliefs | Thomas Jefferson's Monticello