Independence National Historical Park

Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president, painted by Charles Wilson Peale in 1791. Jefferson’s rational approach to religion led him to reject the virgin birth and the resurrection; he preferred a very human Jesus. During the last two decades of his life, Jefferson prepared his own version of the Gospels, removing all portions of narrative that referred to miracles or the supernatural and all teachings that he felt strayed from the true essence of Jesus’ message. His own unconventional religiosity caused many to suspect him of being an atheist, a charge Jefferson never answered—preferring to keep his Deist religious beliefs to himself.