Jefferson, Christianity, and Twitter: A Roundup

It all began on a Memorial Day weekend Saturday morning.  I was sipping coffee and flipping channels when I saw two familiar faces:  Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf. They were on stage at the Free Library of Philadelphia talking about Thomas Jefferson’s religious beliefs.  CSPAN was covering it.

I composed this tweet:

Shortly thereafter Sam Haselby, the author of the excellent The Origins of American Religious Nationalism, jumped into the conversation.  So did Annette Gordon-Reed (yes the CSPAN event was pre-recorded).  So did several others.

After an hour or so, I had to move on to other projects:

Then came the highlight of my day.  A Pulitzer-Prize winning historian told me to “be responsible” as I painted and caulked.

After I left, the conversation about whether or not it was appropriate to call Jefferson a “Christian” continued.  And continued. And continued until it was just Gordon-Reed and Haselby.

Michael Hattem storified the entire thing here.

Since then, there have been several blog posts addressing this fascinating debate.  Here they are:

John Fea, “Peter Onuf Kicks the ‘Christian America’ Hornets Nest.”

John Fea, “Do Historians Privilege Change Over Time Over Continuity?

Roy Rogers, “The Sacred and the Secular in Early National Virginia”

Jonathan Den Hartog, “Jefferson and Christianity”

Ben Park, “Religion and the Founding: Part I of Probably Many”

Nick Satin, “Thomas Jefferson, Peter Onuf, and the ‘Christian Nation'”