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Say nothing of my religion. It is known to my god and myself alone.
I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.
Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
What all agree upon is probably right; what no two agree in most probably is wrong.
hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal;
that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable
rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted
among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;
that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute
new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and
organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely
to effect their safety and happiness.|
-- Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776. ME 1:29, Papers 1:315 (Some believe Thomas Paine wrote the original draft from which Jefferson and Adams copied the earliest surviving drafts [which contained stern denunciations against human slavery typical of Paine but not of Jefferson, and that it contains word usage typical of Paine's writings but not of Jefferson's], and that this was the secret which Paine, in a letter, assured George Washington that he had "ever been dumb on everything which might touch national honor" and would remain so. Since it was Jefferson's appointed duty to draft the Declaration, it behooved them not to divulge that it came from another's pen, though everyone during those times agreed that Paine's pen was the most elequent of that era. [Arguments derived from Joseph Lewis.])
[Our] principles [are] founded on the immovable basis of equal right and reason.
An equal application of law to every condition of man is fundamental.
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
That liberty [is pure] which is to go to all, and not to the few or the rich alone.
liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits
drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add "within the
limits of the law" because law is often but the tyrant's will, and
always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.
To unequal privileges among members of the same society the spirit of our nation is, with one accord, adverse."
too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of
the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful,
must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which
equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.
let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious
intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet
gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as
wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.... error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.... I deem the essential principles of our government.... Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; ...
freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under
the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially
America, no other distinction between man and man had ever been known
but that of persons in office exercising powers by authority of the
laws, and private individuals. Among these last, the poorest laborer
stood on equal ground with the wealthiest millionaire, and generally on
a more favored one whenever their rights seem to jar.
Of distinction by birth or badge, [Americans]
had no more idea than they had of the mode of existence in the moon or
planets. They had heard only that there were such, and knew that they
must be wrong.
[The] best principles [of our republic] secure to all its citizens a perfect equality of rights.
It is surely time for men to think for themselves, and to throw off the authority of names so artificially magnified.
reviewing the history of the times through which we have passed, no
portion of it gives greater satisfaction or reflection, than that which
represents the efforts of the friends of religious freedom and the
success with which they are crowned.
behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to
resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by
change of circumstances, become his own.
preserve the freedom of the human mind then and freedom of the press,
every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long
as we may think as we will, and speak as we think, the condition of man
will proceed in improvement.
May it [the Declaration of Independence]
be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to
others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst
the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded
them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of
self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free
right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All
eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread
of the light of science has already laid open to every view the
palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles
on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride
them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for
others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day [July 4th] forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them....
|Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that ...
of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to
His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good
government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.|
-- Thomas Jefferson, Reply to Baptist Address, 1807
dissensions among Sects themselves arise necessarily a right of
choosing and necessity of deliberating to which we will conform. But if
we choose for ourselves, we must allow others to choose also, and so
reciprocally, this establishes religious liberty.
The rights [to religious freedom] are of the natural rights of mankind, and ... if any act shall be ... passed to repeal [an act granting those rights] or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
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
opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men;
men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And
why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of
opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature.
of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of
Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we
have not advanced one inch toward 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.
know it will give great offense to the clergy, but the advocate of
religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them.
I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America,
a fact like this can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal
inquiry too, as an offence against religion; that a question about the
sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then
our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur
shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus
to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be
the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest
to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up
his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must
believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are
rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it
cannot stand the test of truth and reason.
M de Becourt's book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in
its reasoning, refute it. But, for God's sake, let us freely hear both
sides, if we choose.
man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship,
place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained,
molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise
suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all
men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their
opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise
diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.
never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or
admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.
The 'Wall of Separation,' Again:
Supreme Court: Clause Erects 'Wall of Separation'
the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by
law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation' between church and
is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I
have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker in which
no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle.|
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Richard Rush, 1813
matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed
by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general
government. I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the
religious exercises suited to it; but have left them as the
Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State or
Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.
Constitution ... has not left the religion of its citizens under the
power of its public functionaries, were it possible that any of these
should consider a conquest over the conscience of men either attainable
or applicable to any desirable purpose.
suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of
opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on
supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once
destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of
that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve
or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or
differ from his own.
impious presumption of legislators and and rulers, civil as well as
ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men,
have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own
opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as
such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and
maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and
through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions of
money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors,
is sinful and tyrannical;...
Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to God alone.
consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the
Constitution from intermeddling in religious institutions, their
doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the
provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or
free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the
states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no
power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in
religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It
must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human
What a conspiracy this,
The 'Wall of Separation':
the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet pagans, at a
time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced or
knew that such a character existed.
Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.
we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced
by the Saxons on their settlement of England, and altered from time to
time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of the
Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law ... This
settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But
Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the
conversion of the first Christian king of the Heptarchy having taken
place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here then,
was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in
existence, and Christianity no part of it ... That system of religion
could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet
every state, says an inquisitor, has established some religion. No two,
say I, have established the same. Is this a proof of the infallibility
clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the
machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the
civil and religious rights of man.
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 aggrandising their oppressors in Church and
State; that the purest system of morals ever before preached to man,
has been adulterated and sophisticated by artificial constructions,
into a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves; that
rational men not being able to swallow their impious heresies, in order
to force them down their throats, they raise the hue and cry of
infidelity, while themselves are the greatest obstacles to the
advancement of the real doctrines of Jesus, and do in fact constitute
the real Anti-Christ.
[If] the nature of ... government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope.
This doctrine ["that
the condition of man cannot be ameliorated, that what has been must
ever be, and that to secure ourselves where we are we must tread with
awful reverence in the footsteps of our fathers"] is the genuine
fruit of the alliance between Church and State, the tenants of which
finding themselves but too well in their present condition, oppose all
advances which might unmask their usurpations and monopolies of honors,
wealth and power, and fear every change as endangering the comforts
they now hold.
I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another.
compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of
opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.
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 civil as well as religious leaders will always avail
themselves for their own purposes.
every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.
He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return
for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by
this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, 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 purposes.
It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.
The Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they [the clergy]
have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of
it's benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly
to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.
then, from this loathsome combination of church and state, and weeping
over the follies of our fellow men, who yield themselves the willing
dupes and drudges of these mountebanks, I consider reformation and
redress as desperate, and abandon them to the Quixotism of more
'Eternal Hostility' Against Whom?
Supreme Court: Clause Erects 'Wall of Separation'
the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by
law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation' between church and
Benefits of Religious Liberty
[When] the [Virginia]
bill for establishing religious freedom ... was finally passed, ... a
singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to
be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure
from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was
proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read
"a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our
religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof
that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the
Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and
infidel of every denomination.
The law for religious freedom ... [has] put down the aristocracy of the clergy and restored to the citizen the freedom of the mind.
Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a censor morum over each other.
No man [should] be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor [should he] be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor ... otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief ... All men [should] be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and ... the same [should] in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
Our civil rights have no dependence upon our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry.
We have no right to prejudice another in his civil enjoyments because he is of another church.
proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying
upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and
emolument unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion
is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to
which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right.
act for freedom of religion is extremely applauded. The Ambassadors and
ministers of the several nations of Europe resident at this court have
asked me copies of it to send to their sovereigns, and it is inserted
at full length in several books now in the press; among others, in the
new Encyclopédie. I think it will produce considerable good even in
those countries where ignorance, superstition, poverty and oppression
of body and mind in every form, are so firmly settled on the mass of
the people, that their redemption from them can never be hoped.
Virginia act for religious freedom has been received with infinite
approbation in Europe, and propagated with enthusiasm. I do not mean by
governments, but by the individuals who compose them. It has been
translated into French and Italian; has been sent to most of the courts
of Europe, and has been the best evidence of the falsehood of those
reports which stated us to be in anarchy. It is inserted in the new
"Encyclopédie," and is appearing in most of the publications respecting
America. In fact, it is comfortable to see the standard of reason at
length erected, after so many ages, during which the human mind has
been held in vassalage by kings, priests, and nobles; and it is
honorable for us, to have produced the first legislature who had the
courage to declare, that the reason of man may be trusted with the
formation of his own opinions.
sister states of Pennsylvania and New York, however, have long
subsisted without any establishment at all. The experiment was new and
doubtful when they made it. It has answered beyond conception. They
flourish infinitely. Religion is well supported; of various kinds,
indeed, but all good enough; all sufficient to preserve peace and
order: or if a sect arises, whose tenets would subvert morals, good
sense has fair play, and reasons and laughs it out of doors, without
suffering the state to be troubled with it. They do not hang more
malefactors than we do. They are not more disturbed with religious
dissensions. On the contrary, their harmony is unparalleled, and can be
ascribed to nothing but their unbounded tolerance, because there is no
other circumstance in which they differ from every nation on earth.
They have made the happy discovery, that the way to silence religious
disputes, is to take no notice of them.
is of no value but as it brings us gratifications. Among the most
valuable of these is rational society. It informs the mind, sweetens
the temper, cheers our spirits, and promotes health.
Religion and the Law
a sect arises whose tenets would subvert morals, good sense has fair
play and reasons and laughs it out of doors without suffering the State
to be troubled with it.|
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82
The declaration that religious faith shall be unpunished does not give immunity to criminal acts dictated by religious error.
anything pass in a religious meeting seditiously and contrary to the
public peace, let it be punished in the same manner and no otherwise
than as if it had happened in a fair or market.
It is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere [in the propagation of religious teachings] when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.
is lawful in the Commonwealth or permitted to the subject in the
ordinary way cannot be forbidden to him for religious uses; and
whatsoever is prejudicial to the Commonwealth in their ordinary uses
and, therefore, prohibited by the laws, ought not to be permitted to
churches in their sacred rites. For instance, it is unlawful in the
ordinary course of things or in a private house to murder a child; it
should not be permitted any sect then to sacrifice children. It is
ordinarily lawful (or temporarily lawful) to kill calves or lambs; they
may, therefore, be religiously sacrificed. But if the good of the State
required a temporary suspension of killing lambs, as during a siege,
sacrifices of them may then be rightfully suspended also. This is the
true extent of toleration.
Religion and Dogma
The natural course of the human mind is certainly from credulity to skepticism.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Peter Carr, 10 Aug. 1787. (original capitalization of the word god is retained per original)
It is an
insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or
not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test
of truth and reason.
They have made the happy discovery, that the way to silence religious disputes, is to take no notice of them.
Nothing but free argument, raillery and even ridicule will preserve the purity of religion.
may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health
by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I
cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor.
Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to our God alone.
am anxious to see the doctrine of one god commenced in our state. But
the population of my neighborhood is too slender, and is too much
divided into other sects to maintain any one preacher well. I must
therefore be contented to be an Unitarian by myself, although I know
there are many around me who would become so, if once they could hear
the questions fairly stated.
I trust there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian.
we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is
pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle
to say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same
evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own
affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed,
indeed, generally, that while in Protestant countries the defections
from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic
countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach,
Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their
virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than love of God.
Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ leveled to every
understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticism
of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system
which might, from it’s indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy,
give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power and
hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a new view of the
Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the
human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate
skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. The
movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by
the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces, the structure of our
earth itself, with it’s distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere,
animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles ...
it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there
is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a
fabricator of all things from matter and motion ... We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the Universe in it’s course and order.
concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of
atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the
being worshiped by many who think themselves Christians.
Christian sect gives a great handle to Atheism by their general dogma
that, without a revelation, there would not be sufficient proof of the
being of god.
Religion and Brutality
have been the bane and ruin of the Christian church, its own fatal
invention, which, through so many ages, made of Christendom a
slaughterhouse, and at this day divides it into castes of
inextinguishable hatred to one another.
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.
A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims.
His [Calvin's] religion was demonism. If ever a man worshiped a false god, he did. The being described in his five points is ...
a demon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in
no God at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious, attributes of
If anybody thinks that kings, nobles, or priests are good conservators of the public happiness send them here [Europe].
It is the best school in the universe to cure them of that folly. They
will see here with their own eyes that these descriptions of men are an
abandoned confederacy against the happiness of the mass of people. The
omnipotence of their effect cannot be better proved than in this
country [France] particularly, where
notwithstanding the finest soil upon earth, the finest climate under
heaven, and a people of the most benevolent, the most gay and amiable
character of which the human form is susceptible, where such a people I
say, surrounded by so many blessings from nature, are yet loaded with
misery by kings, nobles and priests, and by them alone.
man complains of his neighbor for ill management of his affairs, for an
error in sowing his land or marrying his daughter, for consuming his
substance in taverns.... In all these he
has liberty; but if he does not frequent the church, or then conform in
ceremonies, there is an immediate uproar.
am not afraid of the priests. They have tried upon me all their various
batteries, of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and
slandering, without being able to give me one moment of pain.
I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives....
It is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be
read. By the same test the world must judge me. But this does not
satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to
all their interested absurdities. My opinion is that there would never
have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial
structures they have built on the the purest of all moral systems, for
the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolt those who think
for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.
by religion we are to understand sectarian dogmas, in which no two of
them agree, then your exclamation on that hypothesis is just, "that
this would be the best of worlds if there were no religion in it."
The priests of the different religious sects ...
dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight,
and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subdivision of the
duperies on which they live.
is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible
propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them;
and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere
Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.
publishing a book on religion, my dear sir, I never had an idea. I
should as soon think of writing for the reformation of Bedlam, as of
the world of religious sects. Of these there must be, at least, ten
thousand, every individual of every one of which believes all wrong but
To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings.
To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they
are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot
reason otherwise ... without plunging
into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and
sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or
troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have
have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world,
and do not find in our particular superstition one redeeming feature.
They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.
day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme
Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the
fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
is between fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and I
then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy, nor
capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.... what has no meaning admits no explanation.
We find in the writings of his biographers ... a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.
sect had presented for the object of their worship, a being of terrific
character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.
all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under
my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus. He who
follows this steadily need not, I think, be uneasy, although he cannot
comprehend the subtleties and mysteries erected on his doctrines by
those who, calling themselves his special followers and favorites,
would make him come into the world to lay snares for all understandings
but theirs. These metaphysical heads, usurping the judgment seat of
God, denounce as his enemies all who cannot perceive the Geometrical
logic of Euclid in the demonstrations of St Athanasius, that three are
one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three nor the three
is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in
the Platonic mysticism that three are one and one is three, and yet,
that the one is not three, and the three not one....
But this constitutes the craft, the power, and profits of the priests.
Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of fictitious religion, and they
would catch no more flies.
metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and of Calvin, are,
to my understanding, mere relapses into polytheism, differing from
paganism only by being more unintelligible. The religion of Jesus is
founded in the Unity of God, and this principle chiefly, gave it
triumph over the rabble of heathen gods then acknowledged.
hocus-pocus phantasm of a god like another Cerberus, with one body and
three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and
thousands of martyrs.
our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the women.
They have their night meetings and prayer parties, where, attended by
their priests, and sometimes by a hen-pecked husband, they pour forth
the effusions of their love to Jesus, in terms as amatory and carnal,
as their modesty would permit them to use a mere earthly lover.
A professorship of theology should have no place in our institution.
Diamonds in a Dunghill
aim in that was, to justify the character of Jesus against the fictions
of his pseudo-followers, which have exposed him to the inference of
being an impostor. For if we could believe that he really countenanced
the follies, the falsehoods and the charlatanisms which his biographers
father on him, and admit the misconstructions, interpolations and
theorizations of the fathers of the early, and fanatics of the latter
ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind, that he
was an impostor. I give no credit to their falsifications of his
actions and doctrines, and to rescue his character, the postulate in my
letter asked only what is granted in reading every other historian....
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.
fumes of the most disordered imaginations were recorded in their
religious code, as special communications of the Deity; and as it could
not but happen that, in the course of ages, events would now and then
turn up to which some of these vague rhapsodies might be accommodated
by the aid of allegories, figures, types, and other tricks upon words,
they have not only preserved their credit with the Jews of all
subsequent times, but are the foundation of much of the religions of
those who have schismatised from them.
must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select even from the
very words of Jesus, paring off the amphiboligisms into which they have
been led by forgetting often or not understanding what had fallen from
him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing
unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves.
There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of
morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this
operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed
book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as
easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill.
After receiving several inquiries from atheists and others in a matter of a few days, we inquired of the Jefferson Library as to the veracity of the following alleged quotataion.
Quotation 'Not Found'
Explanation of Our Position:
prove that a quotation is "false," one must first cough up the forger,
and that is almost impossible. Like disproving a god-claim, it is
impossible to empirically prove that a quotation is not genuine, apart
from finding someone who deliberately fabricated it or proving an
alleged source document to be a forgery. Thus, to say it is "false" is
incorrect. The most accurate way to state this is, "The Jefferson
Library has searched for this quotation and cannot find it within their
collection of known Jefferson writings."
-- Cliff Walker,
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The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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