AHA Sends 535 Jefferson Bibles to Congress

Copies being delivered to President Obama, 113th Congress

For immediate release

Contact: Brian Magee, 202-238-9088 ex. 105, Mobile: (202) 681-2425 bmagee@americanhumanist.org

(Washington, DC – Jan. 3, 2013) – What Thomas Jefferson did for the Bible, the American Humanist Association did for the world’s other major religious texts—in Jefferson’s words, separated “the gold from the dross.”

A Jefferson Bible for the Twenty-First Century includes Jefferson’s famously edited version of Christianity’s holy text, but this updated offering also includes similarly edited versions of the Hebrew Bible, the Qur’an, the Bhagavadgîtâ, the Buddhist Sutras, and the Book of Mormon. In addition, selections of the “dross” have been included alongside the “gold” for each.

A Jefferson Bible for the Twenty-First CenturyThe original Jefferson Bible, fully entitled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, was created by Jefferson literally cutting and pasting passages he found worthy. His effort has stood alone for over two centuries as an example of how a revered religious text can be improved by extracting what’s good and relevant, while leaving behind what’s questionable, immoral or unnecessary for people skeptical of the supernatural. A Jefferson Bible for the Twenty-First Century follows Jefferson’s lead in creating a useful tome for those interested in the best of the best from the world’s most important religious texts, but also highlights problem passages similar to those that Jefferson lamented arose from “the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of His disciples.” Jefferson called the passages he selected “as easily distinguished as diamonds in a dung-hill.”

“Humanists believe that, like the gospels, these other scriptures are the product of fallible humans, and should be read just as critically,” says Humanist Press Director Luis Granados. “Whether or not our choices are truly the best or worst to be found is of course open to debate –a debate we hope to stimulate.”

The book, being released by the AHA’s publishing house Humanist Press, is being delivered free of charge to President Obama and all members of Congress. The ebook is being delivered immediately; printed copies will also be delivered in the coming days.

“In 1901, the U.S. Congress felt that the Jefferson Bible was of such great value that it authorized the printing of nine thousand copies for itself,” Granados added. (Free copies were delivered to each new member of Congress for the next fifty years, until the supply ran out.) “With today’s Congress representing a much more religiously diverse population, including a fifth of the population that is not religious, we thought it was appropriate to deliver a new Jefferson Bible that acknowledges that diversity.”

The book concludes with American Humanist Association’s Humanism and Its Aspirations, a statement of humanist principles.

The ebook is available through HumanistPress.com and major online retailers. The ISBN number for the paperback is 978-0-931779-29-9, for the ebook it is 978-0-931779-30-5.

The book was assembled under the direction of Luis Granados and edited by AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt, both of whom would like to thank the Stiefel Freethought Foundation for funding the publication of this work, and the Secular Student Alliance for helping us recruit researchers to compile excerpts.


Humanist Press is the publishing house of the American Humanist Association, providing material for the humanist/freethought/atheist market since 1995. The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists and atheists in the United States. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 150 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.