"American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence and served as the third president of the United States, also took a pair of scissors to the Bible, publishing a thin volume of the parts he thought worth keeping. The original Jefferson Bible exists to this day, and is available online. But did Jefferson actually call the Good Book a dung hill, like some say?
The answer to that question is kind of yes, kind of no.
Yes, Jefferson thought that most of the Bible was, in modern vernacular, a load of crap, and yes, he did, by way of analogy, use the term “dunghill.” No question: If Barack Obama repeated Jefferson’s words, conservative Republicans would leap to their feet and the dunghill would hit the fan.
But this is now and that was then, so stick with me for the other half of the answer, which requires some context and the words of Jefferson himself.
By comparison with some of Thomas Paine’s comments about the Bible, Jefferson’s critique was parlor talk. Jefferson saw himself as part of a dignified and righteous endeavor—a cadre of scholarly men working to remove the layers of mythology and superstition that congealed during the first and second centuries of Christianity. The analogy he used was separating dung from diamonds, and the words he kept—the diamonds–were the ones he thought to be authentic teachings of Jesus.
Jefferson’s quest to extract the man from the myth—the quest for the historical Jesus—is one that continues today."