Jefferson Continued to Support Churches with his Money

Contrary to the myth of Thomas Jefferson the lifelong unbeliever, our third president was committed as a churchman. He donated a lot of money to church and church-related causes. We document this in our book, Doubting Thomas: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson. 

When Jefferson ends his term as Secretary of State in the 1790’s and returns home, he again is found supporting his pastor Rev. Matthew Maury. The account book said on June 21, 1794: “Paid. Revd. Matthew Maury,”32 and in 1795 an entry for May 4 said: “Paid Revd. M. Maury on account of my subscription for 1793.” Jefferson apparently discovered his failure, from two years earlier, to support his home church while he was living in New York.

In contrast to these friendly clergy relationships in 1794 Jefferson mentioned in a letter to Pennsylvania politician, Tench Coxe, that “…priests…have been so long deluging with human blood…” The context of this is mainly referring to state-church clergy in European history, no different from what dissident Protestant clergy often said. It was not an anti-clerical statement but an anti-tyranny statement.

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