Thomas Jefferson's Private, Personal Bible offers a case study in politics and faith

Rick Santorum’s near-miss in Iowa provides a reminder that, for many Republican voters (and not a few candidates), religion and politics overlap. If you need another reminder, though, consider this: recently, the Smithsonian has restored and put on display a weird and fantastic 19th-century book known as “The Jefferson Bible.” That’s Jefferson as in Thomas, and this private, personal document offers a useful case study in how politics and Christianity have mixed it up in American history, right up to today.

To understand Jefferson’s Bible, you need to start with the one book he published in his lifetime: “Notes on the State of Virginia.” Jefferson wrote this survey in the 1780s, organizing it around topics like “The different religions received into that State.” But the book came back to haunt him two decades later when he was battling John Adams for the presidency. Indeed, long before Rick Perry’s and Mitt Romney’s books caused them trouble on the campaign trail, Jefferson had to deal with some very specific attacks on what he’d written about religion.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture