Thomas Jefferson — The Paramount Founding Father, The Intellectual Voice Of America, On Religion As A Founding Principle

Thomas_Jefferson_21. “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

~Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802

2. “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. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”

~Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814

3. “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”

~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

5. “I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”

~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

6. “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”

~Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

7. “Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is  absolutely essential in a free society. We have solved … the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.”

~Thomas Jefferson: in a speech to the Virginia Baptists, 1808

8. Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”

~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814


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