This week's lib-quote is not really made by someone I consider a liberal by modern application. However, it is a quote being used by atheists who have coerced their way into displacing some of the Christmas displays at a coastal park in Santa Monica, California. Instead of bringing messages of hope and peace to the community, they like to force on park participants their typical incivility and vulgarity. One of their "displays" reads:
"Religions are all alike ? founded upon fables and mythologies. ? Thomas Jefferson."
As noted above, I do not hold Thomas Jefferson to be anything like the person that modern liberals make him out to be in their forms of rewritten history. However, the use of this so-called quote makes it my lib-quote choice of the week. A couple of observations:
First, I attempted to fact-check the quote itself. My first inclination was to wonder about the context. I know that Jefferson was swayed by the emerging rationalism of his period, but that does not mean that he ever developed a complete animosity toward religion. He certainly developed a big dose of skepticism, but it did not lead to a complete rejection of religion as far as I know. My fact-check attempts have not been completely thorough, but I did run across a letter written to The Argonaut, a local paper, in which Eric Cooper of Santa Monica observes:
The fact that Jefferson never said that doesn't seem to matter. Experts at no less than the Jefferson Library at Monticello, Va. say there is absolutely no evidence Jefferson said these words. Do you see the irony? The sign is actually what has been proven to be the myth.
Although I could find nothing definitive in my brief search, this does indicate that there are a some questions surrounding the quote attributed to Jefferson. Another source I have, America's Christian History: The Untold Story by Gary DeMar, reveals:
While Jefferson was no atheist, he was no evangelical Christian either. He would only tolerate a religion that fit his conception of reasonableness. Jefferson nearly abandoned any appreciation for Christianity until he read Joseph Priestly's An History of the Corruption of Christianity (1793). Through this work and Priestly's Socrates and Jesus Compared Jefferson no longer rejected Christianity, only what he believed were its "corruptions". By stripping away the corruptions, Jefferson contended, the true Christian would rediscover the "genuine precepts of Jesus himself." (p. 162)
Second, given that the atheists taking over the Santa Monica display areas consider themselves the paragon examples of rationalism, they should give pause and ponder on the known factual writings of their patron saint of atheism. Letters and documents abound, but perhaps none so telling as his opus magnum, the Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them...
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions... And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Nature's God. Creator. Supreme Judge. Divine Providence.
Does this sound like a man who dismissed all religions out of hand as "fables and mythologies?" Like I stated earlier, atheists hold themselves up as the sterling examples of reason, rationalism, and honesty. Applying reason and logic developed from historical evidence, I think that they need to acquire a more solid patron saint of atheism. If these atheists were completely honest, they would display more of the evidence available and let the discerning public determine truth.