Saturday, July 21, 2007

Textbook Example...:

Of how the "Christian America" crowd distorts Thomas Jefferson -- one half-truth served up by one blatant lie. Found in of course, the WorldNutDaily. In a mock dialogue between Socrates, the ACLU, and great figures from America's past Ellis Washington writes:

Socrates: {turning to Jefferson} President Jefferson, will you answer the question: How does a man become a great president?

Jefferson: I was considered "great" by today's historians for I was a man of letters, a man of culture, music, architecture, archaeology, paleontology, horticultural, politics, a statesman, author, inventor, a secular Renaissance man – a humanist. To a degree I was all these things, yet revisionist historians and leftist academics omitted my deep and well chronicled faith in God. Instead, they recast me in their own distorted image and made me to be this great deist – a person that believes in a "god" that doesn't get involved in human affairs, a god of regulation, not revelation. Balderdash!

Attorney ACLU: But Jefferson, you were the man that gave us that great constitutional doctrine, "Separation of church and state."

Jefferson: Sir, your ignorance of both history and the Constitution is both obtuse and perverse. First, I am not a deist; I am a Christian. In 1802, I, by congressional decree, instituted the public schools in Washington, D.C. In 1805, I was appointed president of the Board of Trustees and in that capacity recommended two books to serve as the principle textbooks of all the public schools in our nation's capital: 1) the Isaac Watts Hymnal, and 2) the Bible. Does that sound like something a deist or a secular humanist would do, Attorney ACLU? {pause}

First, the half truth. Yes, Jefferson called himself, among other things, a Christian (and a Unitarian), but didn't call himself a Deist. And Jefferson's God did involve himself in human affairs. That's the half truth. Without giving the entire story, gullible Christian readers will think Jefferson was a Christian just like they are. Well, what else did Jefferson believe (or not believe)? In his letter to William Short, Jefferson rejected the following:

The immaculate conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity; original sin, atonement, regeneration, election, orders of Hierarchy, &c.

As far as Jefferson believing in a God of "Revelation," yes, he probably thought *some* Revelation in the Bible was legitimate: the small amount that was left after he took his razor to the Bible cutting out all he thought to be "error" (his term for what he thought the illegitimately revealed parts of the Bible was "dung").

Some Christian!

On to Ellis' lie: Jefferson never recommended the Bible for use in public schools, and in Notes on the State of Virginia, in no uncertain terms, stated he opposed using the Bible to teach children who weren't mature enough for it. In a ceremonial post, Jefferson served as President of the school board while President of the United States. The Bible was adopted into the curriculum in 1812 three years after Jefferson's Presidency ended and nothing in the primary sources shows Jefferson as ceremonial President of the school board recommended the Bible for DC public schools. For more debunking of this myth, see this post by Chris Rodda.

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