Were George Washington and Thomas Jefferson Jesus Mythicists?
"Did the American Founding Fathers study the case for Jesus Christ being a mythical figure? There is much evidence that Washington and Jefferson, among other famous and important figures of the day, were influenced by well-known French mythographers and "Jesus mythicists," such as Dupuis and Volney."
I would have some disagreement especially about Jefferson being a jesus mythicists. Jefferson was by all intents and purposes a Deists. His rewritten New Testament called "The Jefferson Bible" was an adaptation of the NT. Jefferson did not believe in the miracles that this jesus performed and thus cut and pasted his own version of the NT. Washington's role as a jesus mythicists could be questionable as well. Washington was not an avid church goer and often times he would drop Martha off at church and return home. Washington in a sense was Deists as well but never really expressed his religious belief I don't think.
Washington gives us little in his writings to indicate his personal religious beliefs. As noted by Franklin Steiner in "The Religious Beliefs Of Our Presidents" (1936), Washington commented on sermons only twice. In his writings, he never referred to "Jesus Christ." He attended church rarely, and did not take communion - though Martha did, requiring the family carriage to return back to the church to get her later.
Washington was not anti-religion. Washington was not uninterested in religion.
He was complimentary to all groups and attended Quaker, German Reformed, and Roman Catholic services. In a world where religious differences often led to war, Washington was quite conscious of religious prejudice. However, he joked about it rather than exacerbated it. Washington once noted that he was unlikely to be affected by the German Reformed service he attended, because he did not understand a word of what was spoken. http://www.virginiaplaces.org/religion/religiongw.html
Jefferson though he had some religious belief wrote in Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli the following:
Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
Classifying any of the founders as JM's would be a hard stretch. There is one person, though not a founding father that was instrumental in the Deism movement and that was Thomas Paine. Paine was a defunct British Army officer that was about to be strung up until Ben Franklin intervened and got him to the US. Paines book "Age of Reason" is one that every one needs to read. In it he slices and dices the NT and OT to pieces. If anyone would have even a trace of JM it would be him but even thats a stretch.
Deism played a major role in shaping the thinking of a lot of the major players such as Franklin, Adams, Jefferson and most likely Washington.