To some out in Consumerland this is old news, perhaps bor-reeng. To countless others, indoctrinated with sunday schoolism it's mandatory reading (and Californians should realize, apres-Prop 8, that fundamentalists and mormons still retain a great deal of power over Golden state politics, especially in towns and cities away from the phunn zones of LA and SF, or silicon valley).
""""Jefferson consistently denounced the "blasphemous absurdity of the five points of Calvin." Three years before his death he wrote the following to John Adams:
"His [Calvin's] religion was demonism. If ever man worshiped a false God, he did. The being described in his five points is ... a demon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no God at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin" (Works, Vol. iv., p. 363).
"It is hard to say observes Bancroft, "which surpassed the other in boiling hatred of Calvinism, Jefferson or John Adams."
To Dr. Cooper, November 2, 1822, Jefferson writes:
"I had no idea, however, that in Pennsylvania, the cradle of toleration and freedom of religion, it [fanaticism] could have arisen to the height you describe. This must be owing to the growth of Presbyterianism. The blasphemy of the five points of Calvin, and the impossibility of defending them, render their advocates impatient of reasoning, irritable, and prone to denunciation" (Works, Vol. iv, p. 358).
In the same letter, after mentioning the fact that in Virginia where he resides, the Christians being divided into different sects, including the Presbyterian, are more tolerant, he continues:
"It is not so in the districts where Presbyterianism prevails undividedly. Their ambition and tyranny would tolerate no rival if they had power. Systematical in grasping at an ascendancy over all other sects, they aim, like the Jesuits, at engrossing the education of the country, are hostile to every institution they do not direct, and jealous at seeing others begin to attend at all to that object."
In the following significant passage we have Jefferson's opinion of the Christian religion as a whole:
"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies" (Letter to Dr. Woods).
Could a more emphatic declaration of disbelief in Christianity be framed than this?
In his "Notes on Virginia," the following caustic allusion to Christianity occurs:
"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites."
In his letter to Dr. Cooper, prayer meetings and revivals receive this cruel thrust from his pen:
"In our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the women. They have their night meetings and praying parties, where, attended by their priests, and sometimes by a henpecked husband, they pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus in terms as amatory and carnal as their modesty would permit to a merely earthly lover" (Works, Vol. iv., p. 358).
A short time before his death, Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, after commending the morals of Jesus, wrote as follows concerning his philosophical belief:
"It is not to be understood that I am with him [Jesus] in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist."
In support of his Materialistic creed, he argues as follows:
"On the basis of sensation we may erect the fabric of all the certainties we can have or need. ....... When once we quit the basis of sensation, all is in the wind. To talk of immaterial existences, is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise. But I believe that I am supported in my creed of Materialism by the Lockes, the Tracys, and the Stewarts."