Comments and actions by Thomas Jefferson concerning religion:
• No nation has ever existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example.
(See the records recently reprinted by James Hutson, Chief of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1998), p. 96, quoting from a handwritten history in possession of the Library of Congress, “Washington Parish, Washington City,” by Rev. Ethan Allen.)
• In an 1803 federal Indian treaty, Jefferson willingly agreed to provide $300 to “assist the said Kaskaskia tribe in the erection of a church” and to provide “annually for seven years $100 towards the support of a Catholic priest.” Jefferson also signed three separate acts setting aside government lands for the sole use of religious groups and setting aside government lands so that Moravian missionaries might be assisted in “promoting Christianity.”
(American State Papers, Walter Lowrie and Matthew St. Claire Clarke, editors (Washington, D. C.: Gales and Seaton, 1832), Vol. IV, p. 687; see also, Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U. S. 38, at 103 (1985), Rehnquist, J. (dissenting); see also, The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, Richard Peters, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846), Vol. VII, p. 79, Article III, “A Treaty Between the United States and the Kaskaskia Tribe of Indians,” December 23, 1803; Vol. VII, p. 88, Article IV, “Treaty with the Wyandots, etc.,” Vol. VII, p. 102, Article II, “Treaty with the Cherokees,”1806.)
• When Washington D. C. became the national capital in 1800, Congress voted that the Capitol building would also serve as a church building.
(Debates and Proceedings of the Congress of the united States (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1853), Sixth Congress, p. 797, December 4, 1800)
• President Jefferson chose to attend church each Sunday at the Capitol.
(See the records recently reprinted by James Hutson, Chief of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1998), p. 84.
• Jefferson even provided the service with paid government musicians to assist in its worship.
(Id. at 89)
• Jefferson also began Christian services in his own Executive Branch, both at the Treasury Building and at the War Office.
(Id. at 89; see also John Quincy adams, Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1874), Vol. I, p. 265, October 23, 1803.)
• While President, Jefferson closed his presidential documents with the phrase, “In the year of our Lord Christ; by the President; Thomas Jefferson.”