Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Thomas Jefferson on Religion

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
—Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782.

I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians.
—Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789 (Price had written to Jefferson asking "Would not Society be better without Such religions? Is Atheism less pernicious than Demonism?")

They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.
—Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
—Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814