Imagine for a minute that a media story revealed that one of the candidates for president of the United States had created his own version of the Bible, keeping those things with which he agreed and eliminating those things with which he had problems. Could such a candidate be elected? Even nominated?
Almost certainly not. But one of our most esteemed presidents actually did that, though he kept it quiet.
Thomas Jefferson took a razor and glue brush and cut and pasted the Gospels of the New Testament into his own version. He eliminated most references to the supernatural, including the virgin birth, miracles and even the resurrection of Jesus. He kept what he considered the moral philosophy of Jesus -- parts like the beatitudes, most parables and the Lord's Prayer.
Jefferson once said, "I am a sect by myself, as far as I know." That's certainly true. We may not agree with his biblical choices, but we can only respect the honest wrestling of a man dealing with his faith.
The result is called the Jefferson Bible, and it's currently on display at the American History Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
This week on Interfaith Voices, I interviewed the editor of the most recent release of the Jefferson Bible, Mitch Horowitz.
After the Jefferson Bible, you can hear about a new nationwide poll of Mormons by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and a conversation with Frank Schaeffer, formerly of the religious right, talking about his new book, Sex, Mom, & God.
Next week: the ethics of using drones in warfare. Stay tuned!