The Jefferson Bible Hoax
There is a concerted effort to destroy the very foundations of our constitutional republic. Public schools have been ground zero of this attack for decades, though it has been hidden from view from those not paying attention. But it is now out in full view, with the radical advancement of Critical Race Theory and the rewriting of American History.
Fake History’s ultimate target is the foundation of the United States and the Founders themselves. If you can discredit or marginalize the Founders, you can marginalize their ideas and principles and then discard them.
As we just passed Religious Freedom Day, January 16th, which celebrates the Religious Freedom Statutes of 1786 signed by then Governor Thomas Jefferson, I want to take a moment to debunk a hoax created about Thomas Jefferson that began to get real traction toward the end of the last century. The purpose of this hoax is to marginalize Thomas Jefferson in the minds of the public, but particularly in the eyes of people of faith, so that in turn his ideas can be marginalized and thereafter nullified and discarded.
The essence of the Jefferson Bible Hoax is this:
“Thomas Jefferson was very irreligious. He dismissed the divinity of Jesus. He hated the idea of miracles. So he took a Bible, cut out all the miracles and pasted the new pages together to create his own Bible and then named it the Jefferson Bible.”
Here are some samples from modern historians propagating this hoax:
“Hunched over his desk, penknife in hand, Thomas Jefferson sliced carefully at the pages of Holy Scripture, excising select passages and pasting them together to create a Bible more to his liking. The "Jefferson Bible." A book he could feel comfortable with. What didn't make it into the Jefferson Bible was anything that conflicted with his personal worldview. Hell? It can't be. The supernatural? Not even worth considering. God's wrath against sin? I don't think so. The very words of God regarded as leftover scraps.” -- C.J. Mahanaey, ed., Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World
Jefferson... wrote his own Bible that excluded all references to miracles, wonders, signs, virgin birth, resurrection, the Godhead, and whatever else conflicted with his own religious thought.” -- Robert S. Alley, The Real Jefferson on Religion.
“Jefferson... rejected the superstitions and mysticism of Christianity and even went so far as to edit the Gospels, removing the miracles and mysticism of Jesus.” -- Jim Walker, "Thomas Jefferson on Christianity & Religion”
“ Thomas Jefferson... actually took scissors to the Gospels and cut out all references to anything supernatural.” -- Don Landis, "Jonah and the Great Fish"
It is amazing how many Christians are taken in by this hoax. More troubling, however, is when a pastor repeats this hoax from the pulpit (usually with great derision) and ends up propagating this hoax to hundreds of members of their congregation who in turn propagate it to others.
So what is the true story?
During Jefferson's presidency (1801-1809), he dealt with a variety of national issues that required a moral perspective on governing. This put in his mind a desire to assemble some kind of digested philosophy of the moral teachings of Jesus.
After retiring from the presidency in 1809, he decided to take some time to work on this project. As part of this effort, he also looked at several other philosophers of the ages, such Pythagoras, Aristides, Cato, Socrates, Plato and a dozen others, but he came back to the teachings of Jesus as the most sublime.
In 1820, Jefferson finally completed his work and called it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. It was a compilation of fifty moral teachings of Jesus and it was bound in leather and made in such a size that it could be carried around in a pocket. Thereby making it always accessible and useful. Notably, he never called it the “Jefferson Bible.”
For generations, America benefited from Jefferson's compilation of Jesus' moral teachings.
In fact, in 1902, it was felt that there was so much corruption in the federal government that Congress commissioned a printing of 9,000 copies of Jefferson's The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth at government expense to be distributed to every U.S. senator, U.S. representative and all their staff.
So much for the modern dogma of Separation of Church and State where government can have no connection to anything religious. (That was created by the Supreme Court in 1947 by Chief Justice Hugo Black and the rest of the justices, but that is for another time.)
For the next 50 years (1902-1952), a copy of The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth was given to every U.S. senator and U.S. representative at his or her swearing in.
Where does that leave us today?
Most of today's scholars and writers either unwittingly or intentionally propagate this hoax. Even museums have been weaponized, including Jefferson’s home at Monticello (Monticello Goes Woke) and at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., all with the intended purpose of diminishing Thomas Jefferson’s beliefs to the general public and particularly the faith community.
What is conveniently omitted and disregarded are other well-documented historical facts about Jefferson, showing a person of conviction and a belief in the importance of faith:
- Financially contributed to societies to distribute the full Bible
- Owned a number of complete Bibles that he personally used and regularly studied
- Financially supported the printing of new editions of the whole Bible
- Was a member of the Virginia Bible Society
- Gave unedited Bibles to family members
- Openly used the full Bible in educational institutions he helped start or direct, including Washington's public schools and the University of Virginia
- Approved and attended church services in the U.S. Capitol Building
So what is the origin of the Jefferson Bible Hoax and the charge that Jefferson hated the Bible and therefore made his own?
Historian David Barton dug into the matter and found that those who have propagated this hoax, “have been almost universally… secular in their approach, and their introductions to the book have... misrepresented Jefferson's motivations and beliefs to conform to their own theological assumptions or agendas.”
Thomas Jefferson even said to Dr. Benjamin Rush, a dear friend and co-signer of the Declaration of Independence: "My views... [are] very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions."
Revisionist historians are still attempting to do this today. What can you do? Speak up, fight back, don’t let your history be stolen from you and this generation be deceived. Avail yourself and your family of every opportunity that you can to learn and study about our country’s history, principles and founding documents. Become Biblical Citizens knowing both the foundations of your faith and the foundations of our country.
Hat Tip: David Barton, Wallbuilders
Craig Seibert is the director of the Christian Civics Training Initiative. He is a writer, speaker, teacher, and trainer. He offers free 8 week Biblical Citizenship zoom courses twice a year at www.ChristianCivicsTraining.org as well as “on demand” content. A footnoted version of this article can be found at this site as well.