Quotations by American Historical Figures

I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies.

If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants ... blamed persecution in the Romish church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. These found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves.

  • Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790

  • There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.

  • President George Washington, 1732-1799

  • As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?

    The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.

  • President John Adams, 1735-1826

  • I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy.

    Accustom a people to believe that priests, or any other class of men can forgive sins, and you will have sins in abundance.

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.

  • Thomas Paine, 1737-1809

  • I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned.

    It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.

    Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.

    I contemplate with sovereign reverence the act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.

  • President Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826

  • What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of liberty of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries.

    Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects?

    And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed.

  • President James Madison, 1751-1836, father of the U.S. Constitution

  • If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed, they will fall by the hands of the clergy.

  • General Marquis De Lafayette (1789)

  • I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.

  • President James Buchanan, 1791-1868

  • It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity.

    The Bible is not my Book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma.

    My earlier views at 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.

  • President Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865

  • The Bible and Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women's emancipation.

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902

  • The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide.

    All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

    The faith that stands on authority is not faith.

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882

  • All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, greed, imagination, and poetry.

  • Edgar Allen Poe, 1809-1849, writer

  • I learned this, at least, by my experiment [Walden]; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost. That is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

    The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

  • Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862

  • Your dunce who can't do his sums always has a taste for the infinite.

    It is time the clergy are told that thinking men, after a close examination of that doctrine [Christianity], pronounce it to be subversive of true moral development and, therefore, positively noxious.

    Fatally powerful as religious systems have been, human nature is stronger and wider, and though dogmas may hamper they cannot absolutely repress its growth.

  • George Eliot [Mary Ann Evans], 1819-1880

  • I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.

  • Susan B. Anthony, 1820-1906

  • The divorce between church and state ought to be absolute. It ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no church property anywhere, in any state, or in any nation, should be exempt from taxation, for if you exempt the church property of any church organization, to that extent you impose tax upon the whole community.

  • President James A. Garfield, 1831-1881

  • One good schoolmaster is worth a thousand priests.

    It is contended by many that ours is a Christian government, founded upon the Bible, and that all who look upon that book as false or foolish are destroying the foundation of our country. The truth is, our government is not found upon the rights of gods, but upon the rights of men. Our Constitution was framed, not to declare and uphold the deity of Christ, but the sacredness of humanity. Ours is the first government made by the people for the people. It is the only nation with which the gods have nothing to do. And yet there are some judges dishonest and cowardly enough to solemnly decide that this is a Christian country, and that our free institutions are based upon the infamous laws of Jehovah.

    As long a woman regards the Bible as the charter of her rights, she will be the slave of man. The bible was not written by a woman. Within its leaves there is nothing but humiliation and shame for her.

  • Robert G. Ingersoll, 1833-1899, orator

  • Faith is believing what you know ain't so.

    It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.

    If Christ were here now there is one thing he would NOT be - a Christian.

    The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.

    Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness ... It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast.

    Mr. Clemens was once asked whether he feared death. He said that he did not, in view of the fact that he had been dead for billions and billions of years before he was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.

  • Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, 1835-1910

  • I don't believe is God. My god is patriotism. Teach a man to be a good citizen and you have solved the problem of life.

    He that cannot reason is a fool; he that will not is a bigot; he that dare not is a slave.

  • Andrew Carnegie, 1835-1919, industrialist and philanthropist

  • I do not believe that any type of religion should ever be introduced into the public schools of the United States.

    I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God.

    All Bibles are man-made.

  • Thomas Edison, 1847-1931

  • Leave the matters of religion to the family altar, the church and the private schools, support entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separated.

  • President Ulysses S. Grant, 1822-1885

  • For centuries the leaders of Christian thought spoke of women as a necessary evil, and the greatest saints of the Church are those who despise women the most.

  • Annie Besant

  • Faith is often the boast of the man who is too lazy to investigate.

  • F. M. Knowles, artist and author

  • Give us a religion that will help us to live---we can die without assistance.

  • Elbert Hubbard, 1856-1915

  • Christianity has lent itself with amazing facility to cruel distortion...and has brought an infinity of anguish to innumerable souls on this earth.

  • Joseph Conrad, 1857-1924, author

  • I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all --- Francis Bellamy (1855-1931)

  • Original Pledge of Allegiance, 1892, before its Christian revisionism in 1954

  • I do not believe in the divinity of Christ and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.

  • President William Howard Taft, 1857-1930

  • I believe that religion is the belief in future life and in God. I don't believe in either. I don't believe in God as I don't believe in Mother Goose.

  • Clarence Darrow, 1857-1938

  • To become a popular religion, it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy.

  • William Ralph Inge, 1860-1954

  • People who rely most on God rely least on themselves.

    The man who gets on his knees has not learned the right use of his legs.

  • Lemuel K. Washburn, 18??-19??

  • Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration - courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth.

    We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

    The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians.

  • H. L. Mencken, 1880-1956, editor

  • Prayers never bring anything... They may bring solace to the sap, the bigot, the ignorant, the aboriginal, and the lazy - but to the enlightened it is the same as asking Santa Claus to bring you something for Xmas.

  • W. C. Fields, 1880-1946, comic actor