Daily Jefferson: In a June 25, 1819 Letter to Ezra Stiles Ely, Jefferson Says He is a Sect by Himself

On June 25, 1819, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Ezra Stiles Ely about his religious views. In the letter he famously said:

I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.

The entire letter is below. Jefferson distinguishes himself from Calvinists and Jews and tells Ely that he believes in the moral teachings of Jesus.  In this and other letters, Jefferson expresses support for those moral teachings of Jesus as a reformer of Judaism, rather than a completer of it. For Jefferson, Jesus is not a messiah but a human teacher who reformed morality.

Your favor Sir. of the 14th has been duly received, and with it the book you were so kind as to forward to me. for this mark of attention be pleased to accept my thanks. the science of the human mind is curious, but it is one on which I have not indulged myself in much speculation. the times in which I have lived, and the scenes in which I have been engaged have required me to keep the mind too much in action to have leisure to study minutely it’s laws of action. I am therefore little qualified to give an opinion on the comparative worth of books on that subject, and little disposed to do it on any book. your’s has brought the science within a small compass and that is a merit of the 1st order; and especially with one to whom the drudgery of letter writing often denies the leisure of reading a single page in a week. on looking over the summary of the contents of your book, it does not seem likely to bring into collision any of those sectarian differences which you suppose may exist between us. in that branch of religion which regards the moralities of life, and the duties of a social being, which teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to do good to all men, I am sure that you & I do not differ. we probably differ on that which relates to the dogmas of theology, the foundation of all sectarianism, and on which no two sects dream alike; for if they did they would then be of the same. you say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know. I am not a Jew: and therefore do not adopt their theology, which supposes the god of infinite justice to punish the sins of the fathers upon their children, unto the 3d and 4th generation: and the benevolent and sublime reformer of that religion has told us only that god is good and perfect, but has not defined him. I am therefore of his theology, believing that we have neither words nor ideas adequate to that definition. and if we could all, after his example, leave the subject as undefinable, we should all be of one sect, doers of good & eschewers of evil. no doctrines of his lead to schism. it is the speculations of crazy theologists which have made a Babel of a religion the most moral and sublime ever preached to man, and calculated to heal, and not to create differences. these religious animosities I impute to those who call themselves his ministers, and who engraft their casuistries on the stock of his simple precepts. I am sometimes more angry with them than is authorised by the blessed charities which he preached. to yourself I pray the acceptance of my great respect.

Th: Jefferson

An Auditor Raises Questions About Gospel for Asia's Promises, Spending and Unaccounted For Donations

I have been raising concerns for weeks about Gospel for Asia’s use of students to carry undeclared cash to India and unreported donations in India.  GFA remains silent and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability appears to be disinterested in the evidence submitted. Neither organization responded to my request for comment and information about this post.
On the other hand, I regularly receive emails from former GFA donors and supporters who have taken the information very seriously and have contacted GFA. Thus far, no donor who has contacted me has expressed satisfaction with GFA’s answers. Also, I was recently contacted by Jason Watkins, a former auditor with a Big 4 accounting firm who did a detailed analysis of GFA’s finances using information publicly available from around the world. I will post more of his material in coming days, but for today, I want to post an image depicting Watkins’ analysis of where GFA funds were spent in 2012. See below:
GFA Pie Chart 2012
I have posted information which addresses some of these issues, but this image brings 2012 together in one place.*
Jason had this to say about the chart:

The data from the FC-6 Forms for the 4 GFA NGO’s (Gospel For Asia-India, Believers Church, Love India, and Last Hope) were obtained and converted to US dollars. The amounts reported as received from foreign (non-Indian) countries were reconciled to the amounts reported as sent by Gospel For Asia, Inc. (US), Gospel For Asia-Canada, Gospel For Asia-UK, et al. This reconciliation shows that nearly half of the money sent from the west was not reported as received by GFA in India. That money is not accounted for. That is, of the $95 million that was spent by all entities, $45 million was not reported and $50 million was reported in India.
Further, of the foreign $50 million that was reported as received in India, an analysis of the ways that money was spent was performed. This analysis segregated and identified the specific expense categories (water wells, children, women, disaster relief, missionaries, administrative expenses, et al) to show how much was actually spent for the purposes indicated.
The amounts on the pie chart are a sum of the spending categories [called ‘utilised’ on the FC-6] reported in India on the 4 GFA NGO’s FC-6 forms, and then dividing each spending category by the sum of the spending of all GFA entities ($95 million).

The Indian government requires completion of the FC-6 form by registered charities. GFA has completed those forms but, as Watkins points out, the GFA affiliates around the world report sending more funds than the FC-6 forms show as received.
Watkins found reason to question several of GFA’s signature claims:

Gospel For Asia (GFA) solicits and collects over $90 million per year from trusting donors by using the following claims:

A detailed analysis of the actual spending by Gospel For Asia in 2012 reveals

  • 47% of the money ($45 million) is missing and unaccounted for. This was money donated by citizens of the US, Canada, UK, and other western countries. This money has not been recorded as received by the four Indian NGO’s (Gospel For Asia-India, Believers Church, Love India, and Last Hope) according to the FC-6 forms filed with the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs. If there are other NGOs directed by GFA, then GFA should reveal this.

  • 21% of the money ($20 million) was spent on administrative overhead in the west (12%) and administrative overhead in the field (9%).

  • Only 31% went towards charitable expenses, and only 12% actually reached the needy. These are the items that are highly promoted as uses for your donations (water wells, disaster relief, humanitarian outreach, women, children, and missionaries).

  • GFA spent $0 on adult literacy and poverty and yet this is a huge promotional item.

I have asked GFA several times for information regarding these matters. However, GFA told me that the organization would answer no more questions. Regarding the claims of 100% going to the field, I have indicated before that much of the money is on the field, but it is sitting in banks.
Perhaps this is case of bad reporting on the part of GFA. Maybe there is some other explanation. I have acknowledged in the past that I am not an auditor and have been open from the beginning of my research to any information provided by GFA. However, when an experienced auditor examines the publicly available documents and comes away with these findings, I think it is past time for GFA to address these matters.
I have additional analyses to report and plan to do so in the coming days.
*Sources: Forms FC-6 filed by Gospel For Asia-India, Believers Church, Love India, and Last Hope with Indian Ministry of Home Affairs; Audited Financial Statements of Gospel For Asia, Inc. (TX Corp); Gospel For Asia-Canada, Forms T-3010 filed by Gospel For Asia with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA); Unaudited Financial Statements of Gospel For Asia (Australia) Inc. filed with Australia Charities Regulation Commission (ACNC); Audited Financial Statements of Gospel For Asia (UK) Ltd. filed with the UK Charity Commission; and other online inquiries. Local currencies were converted to USD using exchange rates at oanda.com for the relevant reporting periods.

Todd Starnes is Irate About "Cultural Cleansing" of the South

no Confederate flagTodd Starnes is all peeved at people who are bothered by symbols of the Confederacy. I just posted his ridicule of the Fort Smith school board. A review of his twitter account and recent columns leaves no doubt that Starnes believes that all the fuss is coming from the evil left (like John Kasich, Mitt Romney, and Russell Moore).
Some tweets:

Really, Mr. Starnes, you compare Nikki Haley and others who want to remove a symbol of racism and treason to Stalin, Lenin, and ISIS? He says:

Stalin and Lenin would be bursting with pride.
You know who else has been doing some cultural cleansing?
The Islamic State — bulldozing their way through history — turning Iraq’s heritage into rubble.
And mark my words – the left’s cultural crusade will not stop with the Confederate Flag. They will use the perception of racism and hatred to whitewash history and silence dissent.
And one day – very soon – I predict they will come after another flag — the one with broad stripes and bright stars. So don’t be terribly surprised when even Republicans stand idly by as they burn the Star-Spangled Banner.

Because getting rid of the American flag would be just like getting rid of the Confederate flag.
Seriously, it is disturbing that Starnes is using his platform in this manner. He considers removing the flag of the Confederacy from a public building “cultural cleansing,” because as any good defender of Southern culture knows, what is important about Southern culture is that Southern states once fought for the right to own slaves. Indeed, white supremacists and Starnes agree about the analogy to ISIS, as this Occidental Dissent post demonstrates.

The Confederate flag belongs in a museum, not flying over public property as a symbol of what the League of the South wants to enact in the present — Southern secession.

Todd Starnes: School Board Members Who Voted to Remove Rebel Mascot and Dixie Anthem Are Dim-witted Lefties

Add Fox News Todd Starnes to the short list (including David French and Bryan Fischer) to the list of prominent conservatives who are defending symbols of the Confederacy.
In a column today, Starnes made fun of the Fort Smith, Arkansas school board for phasing out their Rebel mascot and removing Dixie as the school fight song. More precisely, the school board met as a committee of the whole and voted to make it official during an upcoming meeting. According to a notice on the district’s Facebook page (which Starnes partially cited), the changes are being made because the racist symbolism.
The board wrote:

Giving great consideration to the continuing impact of perceived symbols of racism on the community, state and nation, the Fort Smith Public School Board convened as a Committee of the Whole tonight and passed a motion to discontinue the use of “Dixie” as the Southside High School fight song in the 2015-2016 school year, and to phase out the use of the Rebel as the Southside mascot in the 2016-2017 school year.

This motion passed with a 6-0 vote and will be presented to the Board during the regularly scheduled meeting on July 27, 2015. The Rebel and “Dixie” have been used as the Southside High School mascot and fight song since the school opened more than 50 years ago. The Board understands the challenges of changing what has come to be the tradition of the Southside High School community, and will work with the student body and staff over the next year to name a new mascot and fight song for the school.

While this is sure to be controversial, it shouldn’t be. The Civil War was over a long time ago. It is time to move past Rebels and Dixie. Nothing seems clearer now; except to Todd Starnes. He closes his “news” break with this:

Folks around Fort Smith aren’t too keen on the idea of removing either the mascot or the song. Many posted their extreme displeasure on the district’s social networking sites.

“It appears to be a knee jerk reaction influenced by current events,” one reader wrote. “Removing flags or historical symbols because they may offend a number of people is a slippery slope.”

I’m curious, though, about this idea of perceived symbols of racism. It really is subjective, isn’t it?

I mean – I could perceive the Fort Smith School Board to be a bunch of dim-witted, dingleberry lefties who don’t have the sense God gave a goose.

But I could be mistaken.

However — in this case, I’m more than likely right.

And I’m not just whistling Dixie.

Starnes might like to hang with Michael Peroutka who thinks Dixie is the national anthem.


Daily Jefferson: June 24, 1826 Letter Declining Invitation to Celebrate 50th Year of Independence in Washington

In late June of 1826, Thomas Jefferson was in decline. He knew he was ill but continued to carry on correspondence until he died on July 4, 1826.
Jefferson had been invited to attend a 50 year celebration in Washington DC by Roger Weightman and, despite his ill health, declined the invitation with a remarkable letter about the rights of mankind.

Monticello June 24. 26
Respected Sir
The kind invitation I receive from you on the part of the citizens of the city of Washington, to be present with them at their celebration of the 50th. anniversary of American independance; as one of the surviving signers of an instrument pregnant with our own, and the fate of the world, is most flattering to myself, and heightened by the honorable accompaniment proposed for the comfort of such a journey. it adds sensibly to the sufferings of sickness, to be deprived by it of a personal participation in the rejoicings of that day. but acquiescence is a duty, under circumstances not placed among those we are permitted to controul. I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. may it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings & security of self-government. that form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. all eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view. the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
I will ask permission here to express the pleasure with which I should have met my ancient neighbors of the City of Washington and of it’s vicinities, with whom I passed so many years of a pleasing social intercourse; an intercourse which so much relieved the anxieties of the public cares, and left impressions so deeply engraved in my affections, as never to be forgotten. with my regret that ill health forbids me the gratification of an acceptance, be pleased to receive for yourself, and those for whom you write, the assurance of my highest respect and friendly attachments.
Th. Jefferson

Jefferson hoped that the American action would stimulate enlightenment around the world. It is disturbing that his eloquence was not equaled by his action of removing saddles from the backs of his slaves. Even at his death, Jefferson did not free all of his slaves. Those saddles remained.
In the letter to Weightman, Jefferson did not locate the origin of his grand ideas. To Henry Lee, just over a year prior to his letter to Weightman (May 8, 1825), Jefferson provided similar thoughts about the Declaration of Independence and gave insight into the source of his beliefs as expressed in the Declaration of Independence:

[W]ith respect to our rights, and the acts of the British government contravening those rights, there was but one opinion on this side of the water. All American whigs thought alike on these subjects.

When forced, therefore, to resort to arms for redress, an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.

All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c. …

David Barton preaches that the Declaration of Independence was “nothing more than” a collection of sermons preached before 1763. Watch:


The man who is most responsible for the Declaration of Independence referred to older authorities than American preachers. Inasmuch as the preachers expressed the same ideas as the conversations, essays, and correspondence among supporters of independence, they no doubt added to the “harmonizing sentiments of the day.” However, Barton’s claim about the Declaration of Independence is contradicted by the author.

Bryan Fischer Minimizes Slavery to Attack Gays

no Confederate flagOf late, lots of conservatives are voicing opposition to the Confederate flag. However, at least one can’t get his mind off gays long enough to join in.
Demoted AFA spokesperson Bryan Fischer minimizes slavery and the symbolism of the Confederate flag to attack gays.  In an op-ed on something called “Cowgernation,” Fischer rants:

But if we are going to remove symbols of oppression from our culture, why stop with the Confederate flag? By any objective measure, the rainbow flag of the Gay Reich should be next.

Comparing American slavery to some bakers who were fined for not baking a cake, Fischer accuses gay lobbyists of being slave owners:

The slaveholding South has risen again, after a fashion, only this time all the plantations are owned and operated by the Human Rights Campaign. In today’s world, even if its critics are right, the Confederacy ain’t got nothing on the haters in the homosexual movement.

One may agree with the bakers and still cringe when someone compares American slavery with doing business now.
More disturbing is the fact that Fischer can’t bring himself to condemn the Confederacy (“even if its critics are right,” he says, implying they aren’t).

Daily Jefferson: On June 23, 1826, Jefferson Recorded Receipt of His Last Letter

Helen Duprey Bullock began the introduction to her compilation of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson as follows:

ON June 231826, Thomas Jefferson noted in his “Epistolary Record” the receipt of a letter from V. W. Southall.

Jefferson kept meticulous records of his correspondence as well as copies of his letters. His work is a treasure of information about the mind of Jefferson and the era which produced America.
As noted elsewhere, Jefferson died on July 4, 1826. Thus, his mind was active until near the end.

Gospel for Asia's Leader K.P. Yohannan to Speak at Calvary Chapel Missions Conference

According to this website, Gospel for Asia’s founder and president will speak at Calvary Chapel in Downey, CA as a part of a missions conference. I wrote the church to ask if Yohannan plans to address any of the controversies swirling around Gospel for Asia and will add any answer I get.
Specifically, it is not known if any leader at Gospel for Asia is going to publicly acknowledge that the leaders prevailed upon their own students and ministry partners to carry envelopes of undeclared U.S. cash to India in apparent violation of U.S. law. Thus far, GFA has not apologized for violating their own financial integrity guidelines or requiring students as young as 18 to engage in smurfing of large amounts of cash to India.
There are other issues about which donors and supporting churches should be briefed.
GFA’s audit (conducted by Bland Garvey) failed to disclose three related NGOs which received funds from GFA’s American donors. Furthermore, between $30-50 million of money GFA said went to India in 2013 does not show up in reports submitted to the Indian government.
Another question I hope H.E. Most Reverend K.P. Yohannan addresses is the massive surplus of funds being stored in Indian banks.
Perhaps he could also address why he claimed he didn’t allow men being ordained to kiss his ring but a video shows the men kissing his ring.
An ongoing concern has been the stories of more than 80 former staff members who have unresolved problems with GFA. Current turnover in U.S. staff should be a red flag to any supporter.
Although this might not be of great interest to California church goers, maybe he could also say why GFA – India did not disclose to the Indian government the amount of money given to GFA – India by Canadian donors.
There are other questions and more issues to be raised, but these would be a good start.

You Find the League of the South in the Strangest Places: CNN and the Institute on the Constitution

no Confederate flagThe League of the South appears to be leading the media defense of the Confederate flag. Tonight I watched the South Carolina LoS chairman Pat Hines try to defend the Confederate flag on CNN (I’ll get video when I can).

At one point near the end, Hines wondered why another guest (a South Carolina state legislator) was working for the “cultural genocide” of the Southern people by advocating removal of the Confederate flag. The incredulous response of the guests and host Don Lemon was the same as mine. You (Hines) can’t be serious. A symbol of slavery does not represent any good thing about anyone’s culture.
It was surreal seeing a representative of the League of the South as a guest on CNN. The leader of the League of the South. Michael Hill, has warned African-Americans about a race war and wants the Southern states to secede and become a homeland for whites. He has no problem being known as a white supremacist. His most recent rant is unhinged.
On another front, it has been surreal for a couple of years to know that members of the League of the South are leaders of a self-described effort to educate students and the public about the Constitution. Regular readers know I am talking about the Institute on the Constitution. Founder and director Michael Peroutka is a former board member of the League. David Whitney, IOTC senior instructor, is currently listed as chaplain of the Maryland/Virginia branch of the League (see image below).
At a news conference prior the Peroutka’s election to the Anne Arundel County Council, Peroutka defended the League, calling it “a Christian free-market group.” Peroutka said he quit the group but his Senior Instructor (Whitney) is a leader in the state branch and Peroutka has never denounced the League. Peroutka has also said he didn’t know any racists in the League but that stretches belief.
Whitney MD chapter of LOS

Reaction to Calls to Remove The Confederate Flag in South Carolina; Walmart to Drop All Confederate Flag Merch

I know where I stand.
Walmart just announced they are removing all Confederate flag products. I didn’t know they sold any. Not a popular item in Western PA.
Others are weighing in. Mitt Romney,got the ball rolling:

John Kasich and Scott Walker agree:

Rod Dreher at the American Conservative says take it down.
For reasons that make little sense to me, David French at National Review says leave it up.