American Quotes on Religion
Here are a few of my favorite lesser-repeated quotes from Americans on religion. Quite obviously they are not the only sentiments of their authors, nor are they best known of their author's ideas. I chose not to include any female authors, as I'm planning to do another hub devoted entirely to women and religion in the United States.
Please note ahead of time, that these citations do not constitute evidence that these individuals were all atheists, although some of them were; nor were they picked to be representative of the individual's greater view on religion. It is not my intention to make any claim on the authors' views, or make a case for any greater debate on American society. These quotes were taken directly from the original documents however, and are accurate to the best of the author's knowledge.
I chose these tidbits simply because they represent shades of history which are often deliberately overlooked or ignored for religious and political reasons. They are not the best known of the authors' works, because those are easy enough to find already. If anyone has any questions about the original source of any of the given quotes please ask, and I'll be happy to forward you to the source.
~John Adams: The greatest orator of the Revolutionary period, John Adams' patriotic credentials are second only to George Washington. It is a great irony of history that in his first job with the American government (Vice President) he was forbidden from speaking while Congress was in session.
1. The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.
~Benjamin Franklin:Co-founder of the American Philosophical Society, Franklin was the most famous American statesman of the Revolutionary Period. Philosopher, inventor, and innovator, few have ever achieved what Franklin did.
1. When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not support it, so that its professors are obligated to call for the help of the civil power, 'Tis a sign I apprehend, of its being a bad one.
2. As to Jesus of Nazareth...I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity
~Thomas Jefferson: The greatest writer of the Revolutionary period, Jefferson is best remembered for his leading role in the authorship of the Deceleration of Independence.
1. I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.
2. The Christian god is a three headed monster, cruel, vengeful, and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.
3. In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.
~James Madison: Madison was the lead author of the Constitution and a strong advocate of the separation of Church and State.
1. Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.
2. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.
~Thomas Paine: Although not an American by birth, Paine was undoubtedly an American in spirit. He is best remembered for his pamphlet "Common Sense" although he authored many other works of philosophy.
1. My own mind is my own church.
2. I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible).
3. Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses. Here is an order, attributed to 'God' to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers and to debauch and rape the daughters.
4. Accustom a people to believe that priests and clergy can forgive sins...and you will have sins in abundance.
~George Washington: Perhaps the greatest president in American history, Washington was the glue that held many of the Founding Fathers together, despite their divergent viewpoints.
1. There is nothing which can better deserve or patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.
2. The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine.
~Thomas Edison: The light bulb! Need I say more?
1. My mind is incapable of conceiving such a thing as a soul. I may be in error, and man may have a soul; but I simply do not believe it.
2. So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a dammed fake... Religion is all bunk.
~Abraham Lincoln: Honest Abe needs no introduction.
1. God has allowed men to make slaves of their fellows. He permits this war. He has before Him a strange spectacle...What must He think of us?
2. My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.
~Mark Twain: Ya'll heard of Tom Sawyer
1. Man is a marvelous curiosity. When he is at his very very best he is a sort of low grade nickel-plated angel; at his worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm. Yet he blandly and in all sincerity calls himself the 'noblest work of God.'
2. During many ages there were witches...The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church....imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never has been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry.
~ Steven Weinberg: Theoretical physicist and all around genius.
1. Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.
2. Putting God ahead of humanity is a terrible thing.
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