To the Readers' Forum:
In a recent letter to the editor it was again implied that our country is a Christian nation. Thomas Jefferson was, as usual, misleadingly quoted in an attempt to make this case.
Jefferson's views were actually more in line with deism (the belief in a creator, but not necessarily the Christian god), and he stated publicly that he was in disagreement with much of the Christian Bible, and he made it very clear that he felt that Christianity should not have any part in government. In a letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper in 1814, Jefferson stated: "Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."
He was perhaps even more clear about his idea of religion being a personal, rather than a theocratic, matter, when he stated, in 1802: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, 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 prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State."
It is clear that Jefferson, while personally accepting certain cherry-picked aspects of Christian teachings, certainly did not want organized religion infiltrating our lawmaking.
His obvious disdain for much of what was taught in the Christian Bible is clear in his letter to William Short, in 1820: "Among the sayings and discourses imputed to Jesus by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being."
Again, we are not a theocracy. One is free to dislike gay marriage and stem cell research if one so wishes, but as Thomas Jefferson himself said, "religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God."
We can't make our personal prejudices law, no matter how much we would like to. If personal disgust was sufficient to prevent legal marriage, then certainly homophobic people would not be granted this right either.
Craig Anderson Jr.