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Thoughts About Religion

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Compiled by Jack Nichols

jefferson.jpg - 25.98 KThe clause of the Constitution which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorable hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, and they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the alter of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough too in their opinion.
(Saint) Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and first corrupter of the doctrine of Jesus.
Thomas Jefferson

The God within us is the only available God we know and the clear light of science teaches us that we must be our own saviors.
Luther Burbank

Mass movements can rise and spread without a belief in a God, but never without a belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil. When Hitler was asked whether he thought the Jew must be destroyed, he answered: "No…we should then have to invent him. It is essential to have a tangible enemy, not merely an abstract one." (H. Rauschning, Hitler Speaks, 1940, p. 234)
Eric Hoffer

Liberty's chief foe is theology.
Charles Bradlaugh

Die every day. Be born again every day. Deny everything you have every day. The superior virtue is not to be free but to fight for freedom. It is not God who will save us, it is we who will save God—by battling, by creating, and by transmuting matter into spirit….God is not man's ancestor, but his decendent.
Nikos Kazantzakis

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
Thomas Paine

Christianity gave Eros poison to drink: he did not die of it but degenerated—into vice…The degree and kind of sexuality of a human being reaches up into the ultimate pinnacle of his spirit.
Frederich Nietzsche

goldman.gif - 34.43 KLove, the strongest and deepest element in all lives, the harbinger of hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful molder of human destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that poor little State and Church-begotten weed, marriage?
Emma Goldman

In a democracy dissent is an act of faith.
William J. Fulbright

An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy to be called an idea at all.
Elbert Hubbard

The mob that would die for a belief seldom hesitates to inflict death upon any opposing heretical group.
Ellen Glasgow

Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley

The Pope is the only one whose feet are kissed by princes.
Pope Gregory VII

Religion: What at one time was a dynamic structure, mediating between man and his destiny and interpersonal responsibilities, has become mere mechanical ritual that dwarfs men rather than strengthens them.
Eric Fromm

Think of the dull functioning of dogma, age after age. How many millions have been led shunted along dogmatic runways from the dark into the dark again.
Theodore Dreiser

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Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy the Man, and happy he alone He who can call today his own; He who, secure within, can say, Tomorrow, do thy worst, for I have liv'd today.
John Dryden

I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd, I stand at look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, No one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
Walt Whitman

I imagine a man must have a good deal of Vanity who believes, and a good deal of Boldness who affirms, that all the doctrines he holds are true; and all he rejects are false. And perhaps the same may be said of every Sect, Church and Society of men when they assume to themselves that infallibility which they deny to Popes and Councils. I think Opinions should be judged of by their Influences and Effects.
Benjamin Franklin

Let us worship God again in simplicity, instead of making a fool of him in splendid edifices.
Soren Kierkegaard

ingersol.gif - 9.44 KIf Christianity were only stupid and unscientific, if its God was ignorant and kind, if it promised eternal joy to believers and if the believers practiced the kind of forgiveness they teach, I, for one, should let the faith alone…But there is another side to Christianity. It is not only stupid, but malicious. It is not only unscientific, but it is heartless. Its god is not only ignorant, but infinitely cruel. It not only promises the faithful an eternal reward, but declares that nearly all the children of men, imprisoned in the dungeons of God, will suffer eternal pain. This is the savagery of Christianity.
Robert G. Ingersoll

Still, instead of trusting what their own minds tell them, men have as a rule a weakness for trusting others who pretend to supernatural sources of knowledge.
Arthur Schopenhauer

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth---more than death. Thought is subversive, and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless to the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.
But if thought is to become the possession of the many, and not the privilege of the few, we must have done with fear. It is fear that holds men back—fear that their cherished beliefs should prove delusions, fear lest the institutions by which they live should prove harmful, fear lest they themselves prove less worthy to the respect than they have supposed themselves to be.
Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.
Bertrand Russell

Religion is, in fact, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of a man who has either not yet gained himself or has lost himself again. The bourgeois clap trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child, become all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all family ties among the proletariat are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labor.
Karl Marx

menken.gif - 34.46 KFaith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable… The most satisfying and ecstatic faith is almost purely agnostic. It trusts absolutely without professing to know at all. All great religions in order to escape absurdity have to admit a dilution of agnoticism. It is only the savage, whether of the African bush or the American gospel tent, who pretends to know the will and intent of God exactly and completely.
H.L. Mencken

All true knowledge contradicts common sense.
Bishop of London, Mandell Creighton

The equal toleration of all religions…is the same as atheism.
Pope Leo XIII

The Pope passed by in his Popemobile. It had that bullet-proof shield. What? The Pope's afraid of dying and going to heaven? What hope have the rest of us got?
Drew Carey

Good writers define reality; bad ones merely restate it.
Edward Albee

The (religious) institution of marriage is a very alienating institution, for men as well as for women…It's a very dangerous institution—dangerous for men who find themselves trapped, sadlled with a wife and children to support; dangerous for women, who aren't financially independent and end up depending on men who can throw them out when they're 40, and dangerous for children because their parents vent all their frustrations on them.
Simone de Beauvoir

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
Barry Goldwater

To think is to differ.
Clarence Darrow

The historian's first duties are sacrilege and the mocking of false gods. These are his indispensable instruments for establishing the truth.
Jules Michelet

Before what is sacred, people lose all sense of power and all confidence: they occupy a powerless and humble attitude toward it. And yet no thing is sacred of itself, but by my judgment, my bending the knee; in short, by my conscience.
Max Stirner

Sometimes you think you hear the voice of Almighty God, and it is only that of a Privy Councillor (Geheimrat)
Gustav Stresemann

The laws of God, the laws of man, He may keep that will and can; Not I: let God and man decree Laws for themselves but not for me.
A.E. Housman

He who wears his morality but as his best garment were better naked.
Kahlil Gibran

No more cunning plot was ever devised against the intelligence, the freedom, the freedom, the happiness, and the virtue of mankind, than Catholicism.
Prime Minister William E. Gladstone

Forgive, O Lord, my little joke on Thee And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me.
Robert Frost

The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so cannot; or they neither can nor will, or lastly, they are able and willing. If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can but will not, then they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?

But men are better than their theology. Their daily life gives it the lie. If a man is at heart just, then in so far is he God; the safety of God, the immortality of God, the majesty of God do enter into that man with justice.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Christian faith, which we believe is the hope of our troubled world, is a revolutionary faith. It is rooted to inward experience, but, whenever it is genuine, it leads to radical changes in the ways in which men live and act.

We rejoice in the movements, appearing in many parts of the world at once, which are inspired by the desire for social justice, equal rights for all races, and the dignity of the individual person.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) Declaration, World Conference, Oxford, 1952

Fundamentalists want easy answers and easy validity. They are of superior species (not evolved from apelike primates) and they immeasurably surpass the sinners against whose ground they feature themselves in holy relief. In another time they executed proponents of heliocentricity, its seeming blasphemous that their earth not be the center of the universe. And in a kind of dogmatism of the biologic, they confuse the protoplasm that is substance with the consciousness that is the essence of personhood.
Sandy Rapp

Yes, what joy can possibly compare with the joy of knowing that someone else has died for you, 2 In your place 3 So you won't have to, 4 And can just pretend to feel really grateful and obligated for the rest of your life, 5 Because somebody all-powerful is taking care of all the details? 6 Truly, this combines all the greatest pleasures of life into a single perfect package. 7 First there is the pleasure of getting away with something you might have gotten nailed for yourself 8 So to speak 9 Second, there is the pleasure of watching somebody else endure pain and suffering and death, 10 Somebody big and important, I might add, 11 Which makes it even more pleasurable, 12 Third, there is the ineffable pleasure of hating everyone who does not buy the whole story 13 Hook, line and sinker.
Harry in The Boomer Bible, by R.F. Laird

We decree and order that from now on, and for all time, Christians shall not eat or drink with Jews, nor admit them to feasts, nor cohabit with them, nor bathe with them. Christians shall not allow Jews to hold civil honors over Christians or to exercise public offices in the state.
Pope Eugenius IV

They are like rats, skulking in their closets, copulating in mad frenzies, unable to control their sexual appetites, sniffing around the doors of school classrooms for fresh prey. Young prey. They are perverts and hedonists and spread disease like rats once spread the Black Plague. They will make fine kindling in Hell. But before then, they must be stopped here on earth.
Fundamentalist Preacher on Homosexuals, Quoted in The Orlando Sentinel

Most Americans have never seen or heard what you have witnessed today. But the truth about the homosexual agenda must be told. That's why I want to broadcast this program on prime-time television all around the nation. If Americans know the truth we can win this battle. Will you help me in this challenge by sending whatever gift you can today? Every gift is vitally important but if you can send $25 or more, I want to thank you by sending you a videocassette copy of this program to share with those in your family or friends.
The Reverend D. James Kennedy, Pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft. Lauderdale

A man's character is his fate…All things are in flux.

I will tell you about a curse that never fails. It goes like this: I wish you upon yourself.
Dr. Leo Louis Martello, The Gay Witch

Jack Nichols is the author of The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists, Prometheus Books, 1996, available through

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