Many years ago, after being lambasted for passing on numerous fake quotes from the founding fathers, David Barton put out a document on his website admitting that many of the quotes he used in his first book were “unconfirmed.” One of those quotes was this one from Thomas Jefferson:
” I have always said and always will say that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make us better citizens.”
Barton admitted that the first mention of this quote is a book written in 1869 and that “we have not found it in a primary source.” And while we still see those fake quotes used all the time, Warren Throckmorton catches Barton himself using the quote above in an email to his followers.
The researchers at the Monticello site track the quote to a letter from Daniel Webster in 1852, quoting something he claims Jefferson had said 27 years earlier. But the quote simply is not consistent with many other things Jefferson said about the Bible (which is what Barton presumes he meant by the “Sacred Volume”). First, he called the God of the Old Testament “cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust” — not exactly a fountain of morality in Jefferson’s view. And he rejected almost everything in the New Testament, calling the gospel writers a “band of dupes and impostors” and calling Paul the first great corrupter of the views of Jesus.