Washington, D.C. — A humanist organization in Washington D.C. has created a new version of the “Jefferson Bible,” adding in sections that outline what they feel are some of the best and worst verses in the Bible, as well as texts followed by other religions.
The American Humanist Association says that it delivered the newly-published book, A Jefferson Bible for the Twenty-First Century, to Barack Obama and all incoming members of Congress in e-format, and will soon also send a hard copy of the publication.
According to reports, Thomas Jefferson, who some do not consider to be a Christian unlike other Founding Fathers, once used a razor blade and paste pot to cut out the sections of the four Gospels that referenced the handiwork of God, such as the virgin birth and the miracles of Jesus in healing the sick. While he admired Jesus, Jefferson allegedly struggled with understanding the Divinity of Christ.
Jefferson’s edited Bible was not discovered until after his death, and was only used for personal purposes, rather than for national distribution. However, in 1901, copies were printed and distributed throughout Congress.
“[The Jefferson Bible] has stood alone for over two centuries as an example of how a revered religious text can be improved by extracting what’s good and relevant, while leaving behind what’s questionable, immoral or unnecessary for people skeptical of the supernatural,” AHA stated.
However, in re-releasing the “Jefferson Bible,” AHA also included what they consider to be the most liked and unliked Scriptures in the Bible, as well as the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Mormon, and the Buddhist Sutras. The liked and unliked Scriptures were chosen by three members of the Secular Student Alliance, a humanist group comprised of high school and college-aged students.
In the liked section, the students chose Exodus 22:22, which states, “Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child.” Verses that spoke against homosexuality, or outlined the penalties that the courts are to follow for violating God’s law, were listed as being unliked, or as the organization called it, “the worst.”
“Humanists believe that, like the Gospels, these other scriptures are the product of fallible humans, and should be read just as critically,” stated Humanist Press Director Luis Granados. “Whether or not our choices are truly the best or worst to be found is of course open to debate — a debate we hope to stimulate.”
The end of the book includes a chapter called the “Humanist Manifesto,” which is a declaration of humanists beliefs and goals that point to the wisdom and knowledge of man and his observations of the world around him.
The organization says that it wished to release the book at this time because America has developed into melting pot of a variety of religions since its founding, and following the recent election, there are more religions represented in Congress than ever before.
“With today’s Congress representing a much more religiously diverse population, including a fifth of the population that is not religious, we thought it was appropriate to deliver a new Jefferson Bible that acknowledges that diversity,” AHA stated.
Granados said that he did not want to ditch the entire Bible, but felt that there is good and bad throughout Scripture, and that people should sort through it and pick out the parts they like.
“I think the process Jefferson went through, of realizing there is a lot of wisdom in the Bible and things that are not so wise, is an important process for everybody,” he said.
Upon learning of the release of the book, some have expressed dismay at what they call “cut and paste Christianity.”
“It amazes me how the creation thinks it can improve on the Word given by the Creator of all things,” one commenter stated.
“Fear, folly, and foolishness,” another wrote. “They think that removing words can eliminate the living Word, Jesus Christ. Don’t they know that the Word is written in the hearts of those born again?”
“Jefferson was in no way a Christian; he was but one with morals,” a third commenter remarked. “There will be people who are atheist and say they can get their moral lesson of the day from Aesop’s Fables, but the Bible is not just written to teach morality, but to show man’s need of Christ. … [W]e are nothing without Christ.”