Thomas Jefferson’s Views on Freedom of Religion Essay
Nowadays, there are many debates about the role of Jefferson’s statute about religious freedoms in society as well as many opinions if Thomas Jefferson was a true enemy of religion, or these were different historians and analytics, who made him such a protagonist. Of course, people are free to interpret his statute in a variety of ways using personal knowledge, experience, and beliefs.
In fact, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was about the relation between the state and the church and the ability to provide people of different faiths, Catholics or Jews, with the same opportunities and rights, but people were not ready to accept the religious equality as something normal and preferable, this is why Jefferson’s views on freedom of religion caused him to be seen as an ambiguous figure in history, religion, and politics.
People, who cannot find the connection between politics and religion, or who believe that religion should prevail over politics, or vice versa, will hardly understand why Jefferson’s idea to make religion free from any impact is usually considered as something unclear, wrong, and unacceptable.
The point is that a certain group of people, who lived in the 17th and 18th centuries, used religion as a powerful weapon to control the lives of other people and considered politics as the only possible weapon to control religion from time to time.
When Jefferson underlined that “all attempts to influence it [religious belief] by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness” (“Act for Establishing Religious Freedom” 2), he was confused by the reactions of many people, who did not want to believe that religion could not be controlled anymore.
He actually expected “all officials to act as moral beings and … religion would promote virtue” (Ragosta, 52). Still, he was wrong. A majority of people could not understand and accept his intentions. This is why some of them define him as a true enemy of religion, incapable of solving religious and political hassles, but able to use the law as the only means to make a decision.
The statute under consideration had one simple goal. It was a definite separation of state and church. He wanted to prove that social morals and rights should have nothing in common with religious beliefs. At the same time, his attitude toward religion and its role in human lives were not blind.
Being a supporter of science and evidence, he made an attempt to destroy various religious superstitions and mystics around Jesus and the Creator. He believed that such unexplained ideas about God and his possibilities promoted tyranny in society; this is why it was necessary to change the morals and introduce Christianity as salvation, not as a ruling power.
In general, his main mistake was the desire to do his personal search for religious truth available to the public. He did not have to impose his attitudes to Christ and his divinity, and his confidence made him an enemy of religion. He wanted to prove that the corruptions of Christianity could be eradicated with the help of the law.
His first step, the attempt to deprive the church of any special status from a political point of view, was a powerful idea; thus, it remained unclear to many people of that period. The equality of religion and a number of religious freedoms turned out to be a new attempt to change the society used by Thomas Jefferson during his amazing political career. Though it made him the enemy of religion, it also made him a recognizable politician who was not afraid of radical measures to be done.
Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. Web.
Ragosta, John. Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed. Virginia, NV: University of Virginia Press, 2013. Print.
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Nowadays, there are many debates about the role of Jefferson’s statute about religious freedoms in society as well as many opinions if Thomas Jefferson was a true enemy of religion, […]