Sat 24 Oct 92 20:36 By: David Rice To: All Re: Founders Quotes, #1 +quot;The New Testament
Sat 24 Oct 92 20:36
By: David Rice
Re: Founders Quotes, #1
"The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of
the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.''
"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."
"Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind,
tyranny in religion is the worst."
"...difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects
perform the office of a common censor over each other. Is uniformity
attainable? Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the
introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned;
yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity. What has been the
effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half
hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."
[Thomas Jefferson, "Notes on Virginia"]
"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."
"Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us
restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which
liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect
that having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which
mankind so long bled, we have yet gained little if we countenance a
political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of a bitter and
"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."
"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere
in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths,
Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in
"They [preachers] dread the advance of science as witches do the approach
of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions
of the duperies on which they live."
"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world,
and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming
feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that 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."
"In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to
liberty; he is always in allegiance to the despot, abetting his
abuses in return for protection of his own."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814]
"... I am not afraid of priests. They have tried upon me all their various
batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering. I
have contemplated their order from the Magi of the East to the Saints of the
West and I have found no difference of character, but of more or less
caution, in proportion to their information or ignorance on whom their
interested duperies were to be played off. Their sway in New England is
indeed formidable. No mind beyond mediocrity dares there to develop itself."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio Spofford, 1816]
"[I]t may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of
separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority
with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential
points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to
a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded
agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfence in any way
whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and
protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others."
[James Madison, "James Madison on Religious Liberty",
edited by Robert S. Alley, ISBN 0-8975-298-X. pp. 237-238]
"The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature
shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings
shall rule it by fictitious miracles?"
"...this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there
were no religion in it."
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious
to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty
gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.
He is always in alliance with the despot.... they have perverted the purest
religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all
mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purpose."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Horatio Spafford, March 17, 1814]
"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."
"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it
does not support itself so that its professors are obliged to call for the
help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man
and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship,
that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not
opinions, I contemplate with soveriegn reverence that 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."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT.
"The Complete Jefferson" by Saul K. Padover, pp 518-519]
"The story of Jesus Christ appearing after he was dead is the story
of an apparition, such as timid imaginations can always create in
vision, and credulity believe. Stories of this kind had been told
of the assassination of Julius Caesar..."
"The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the
study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles;
it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing;
and it admits of no conclusion."
"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society?
In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the
ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding
the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians
of the liberties of the people. 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."
[James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785]
"Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of
maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary
operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment
of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less,
in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility
in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."
[James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785]
"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation.
But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been
blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the
most bloody religion that ever existed?"
[John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816]
"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of
the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross.
Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"
[John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson]
"What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era?
Where are fifty gospels, condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius?
Where are the forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by
order of another pope, because suspected of heresy? Remember the 'index
expurgatorius', the inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter and the
[John Adams, letter to John Taylor]
"The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning.
And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or
dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate,
the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently
endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth
in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof,
and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm
about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes."
[John Adams, letter to John Taylor]
"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are
servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal
for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of
a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason
than that of blindfolded fear."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787]
"It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in
the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that
the one is not three, and the three are not one. But this constitutes the
craft, the power and the profit of the priests."
[Thomas Jefferson, to John Adams, 1803]
"But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the
Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who
professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for
enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State."
[Thomas Jefferson, to S. Kercheval, 1810]
"History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people
maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade
of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders
will always avail themselves for their own purpose."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Baron von Humboldt, 1813]
"On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles,
all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been
quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for
abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and
absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Carey, 1816]
"But the greatest of all reformers of the depraved religion of his own
country, was Jesus of Nazareth. Abstracting what is really his from the
rubbish in which it is buried, easily distinguished by its lustre from
the dross of his biographers, and as separable from that as the diamond
from the dunghill, we have the outlines of a system of the most sublime
morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man. The establishment
of the innocent and genuine character of this benevolent morality, and the
rescuing it from the imputation of imposture, which has resulted from
artificial systems, invented by ultra-Christian sects (The immaculate
conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him,
his miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his corporeal
presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity; original sin, atonement,
election, orders of the Hierarchy, etc.) is a most desirable object."
[Thomas Jefferson, to W. Short, Oct. 31, 1819]
"It is not to be understood that I am with him (Jesus Christ) in all his
doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he
preaches the efficacy of repentence toward forgiveness of sin; I require
a counterpoise of good works to redeem it.
Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him by his biographers, I find
many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely
benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so
much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that
such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I separate,
therefore, the gold from the dross; restore him to the former, and leave the
latter to the stupidity of some, the roguery of others of his disciples. Of
this band of dupes and imposters, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and the
first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus."
[Thomas Jefferson, to W. Short, 1820]
"The office of reformer of the superstitions of a nation, is ever more
dangerous. Jesus had to work on the perilous confines of reason and
religion; and a step to the right or left might place him within the
grasp of the priests of the superstition, a bloodthirsty race, as cruel
and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of
Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. That Jesus
did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically
speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than
myself in that lore."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Story, Aug. 4, 1820]
"The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.
But compare with these the demoralizing dogmas of Calvin:
1. That there are three Gods.
2. That good works, or the love of our neighbor, is nothing.
3. That faith is every thing, and the more incomprehensible
the proposition, the more merit the faith.
4. That reason in religion is of unlawful use.
5. That God, from the beginning, elected certain individuals
to be saved, and certain others to be damned; and that no crimes
of the former can damn them; no virtues of the latter save."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822]z
"Creeds have been the bane of the Christian church
... made of Christendom a slaughter-house."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822]
"The truth is, that the greatest enemies of the doctrine of Jesus are those,
calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them to the
structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any
foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical
generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his Father, in the womb of a
virgin will be classified with the fable of the generation of Minerva in
the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom
of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial
scaffolding and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this
most venerated Reformer of human errors."
[Thomas Jefferson, to John Adams, Apr. 11, 1823]
"The metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and
of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere lapses into polytheism,
differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Jared Sparks, 1820]
"I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more
regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day
we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did."
[Benjamin Franklin, letter to his father, 1738]
"I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite
Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us,
but that He is even infinitely above it."
[Benjamin Franklin from "Articles of Belief
and Acts of Religion", Nov. 20, 1728]
"I wish it (Christianity) were more productive of good works ... I mean
real good works ... not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing ... or making
long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments despised by wise men,
and much less capable of pleasing the Deity."
[Benjamin Franklin, Works, Vol. VII, p. 75]
"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 of the Church of England blamed
persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans.
They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves
both here (England) and in New England."
Comment by David Rice:
As one can see, they all felt disdain for organized religion. Now, one
ought no to mistaken that they were condeming theism, or religion per
se, many were religious. They saw the evil in organized religion...
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