Quotations about   church

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It can be difficult to be an introvert in church, especially if you happen to be the pastor. Liking to be alone can be interpreted as a judgment on other people’s company. Liking to be quiet can be construed as aloofness. There is so much emphasis on community in most congregations that anyone who does not participate risks being labeled a loner.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
An Altar in the World, ch. 7 (2009)
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Added on 19-Nov-21 | Last updated 19-Nov-21
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All these years later, the way many of us are doing church is broken and we know it, even if we do not know what to do about it. We proclaim the priesthood of all believers while we continue with hierarchical clergy, liturgy, and architecture. We follow a Lord who challenged the religious and political institutions of his time while we fund and defend our own. We speak and sing of divine transformation while we do everything in our power to maintain our equilibrium. If redeeming things continue to happen to us in spite of these deep contradictions in our life together, then I think that is because God is faithful even when we are not.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith (2006)
Added on 1-Oct-21 | Last updated 1-Oct-21
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Preacher preaching love like vengeance
Preaching love like hate
Calling for large donations
Promising estates
Rolling lawns and angel bands
Behind the pearly gates
You know he will have his in this life
But yours will have to wait
He’s immaculately tax free

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell (b. 1943) Canadian singer-songwriter and painter [b. Roberta Joan Anderson]
“Tax Free” Joni Mitchell (1985)
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Added on 17-Sep-21 | Last updated 17-Sep-21
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I have no objection to churches so long as they do not interfere with God’s work.

Brooks Atkinson (1894-1984) American drama critic and journalist
Once Around the Sun, “Number 10” (1951)
Added on 7-Sep-21 | Last updated 7-Sep-21
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The liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church. Wherever the Bible and sword are in partnership, man is a slave.

Ingersoll - liberty of man Bible and sword man is a slave - wist.info quote

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Some Mistakes of Moses, ch. 3 “The Politicians” (1879)
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What if people were invited to come tell what they already know of God instead of to learn what they are supposed to believe? What if they were blessed for what they are doing in the world instead of chastened for not doing more at church? What if church felt more like a way station than a destination? What if the church’s job were to move people out the door instead of trying to keep them in, by convincing them that God needed them more in the world than in the church?

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith (2006)
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Added on 6-Aug-21 | Last updated 6-Aug-21
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The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine — but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) Franco-British writer, historian [Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc]
Remark to William Temple
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Quoted in Robert Speaight, The Life of Hilaire Belloc (1957). Variant: "The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine, but for unbelievers, here is proof of its divinity, that no merely human institution run with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight."
Added on 12-Jul-21 | Last updated 12-Jul-21
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The church has stood, a rock colossus of bigotry, in the path of ten thousand proposed reforms. Sane efforts to legalize birth control information, the manufacture of proper birth control appliances, appliances for the inhibition of the spread of venereal disease, public instruction in sex hygiene, free clinics for the treatment of venereal disease, the inspection and treatment of prostitutes, controlled prostitution itself, the publication of psychological and physical sex information, aid for unwed mothers –myriad attempts by sane men acting sanely on real problems -— have been fought down by church-frightened legislatures and church-dominated courts.

Philip Wylie (1902-1971) American author
Generation of Vipers (1942)
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Added on 12-Jul-21 | Last updated 12-Jul-21
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Christ by his crucifixion demonstrated exactly what the assault of cruelty on the innocent means; and the subsequent services devised by the early church commemorated the beauty of the virtue that was slain and the beastliness shown by the slayer, and reiterated the warning that this was the kind of crime man was inherently likely to commit unless he watched himself. There could be no more proper medicine for the human disease. But the church has poured as much of the draft as possible down the drain by its attempts to account for the crucifixion of Christ as an atonement for the sins of man instead of a demonstration of them.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic, travel writer [pseud. for Cicily Isabel Fairfield]
“Pleasure Be Your Guide,” The Nation, “Living Philosophies” series #10 (25 Feb 1939)
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Adapted into Clifton Fadiman, I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Certain Eminent Men and Women of Our Time (1952).
Added on 26-Apr-21 | Last updated 26-Apr-21
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It is difficult to pronounce on the opinion of the ministers of our Church as a body: one portion of them, by far the least informed, protests against anything which can advance the honour and the interests of science, because, in their limited and mistaken view, science is adverse to religion. This is not the place to argue that great question. It is sufficient to remark, that the best-informed and most enlightened men of all creeds and pursuits, agree that truth can never damage truth, and that every truth is allied indissolubly by chains more or less circuitous with all other truths; whilst error, at every step we make in its diffusion, becomes not only wider apart and more discordant from all truths, but has also the additional chance of destruction from all rival errors.

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) English mathematician, computer pioneer, philosopher
The Exposition of 1851: Views Of The Industry, The Science, and the Government Of England, ch. 17 (1851)
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Added on 19-Feb-21 | Last updated 19-Feb-21
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But when you frequent places of public worship, as I would have you go to all the different ones you meet with, remember that, however erroneous, they are none of them objects of laughter and ridicule. Honest error is to be pitied, not ridiculed. The object of all the public worships in the world is the same; it is that great eternal Being who created everything. The different manners of worship are by no means subjects of ridicule. Each sect thinks its own the best; and I know no infallible judge, in this world, to decide which is the best.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (16 Feb 1748)
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Added on 11-Feb-21 | Last updated 11-Feb-21
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Nothing so outrages the feelings of the church as a moral unbeliever — nothing so horrible as a charitable Atheist.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Thomas Paine” (1870)
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Added on 8-Feb-21 | Last updated 8-Feb-21
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The worship of God is a Duty; the hearing and reading of Sermons may be useful; but, if Men rest in Hearing and Praying, as too many do, it is as if a Tree should Value itself on being water’d and putting forth Leaves, tho’ it never produc’d any Fruit.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to Joseph Huey (6 Jun 1753)
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Added on 22-Oct-20 | Last updated 22-Oct-20
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The Faith you mention has doubtless its use in the World. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I endeavour to lessen it in any Man. But I wish it were more productive of good Works, than I have generally seen it: I mean real good Works, Works of Kindness, Charity, Mercy, and Publick Spirit; not Holiday-keeping, Sermon-Reading or Hearing; performing Church Ceremonies, or making long Prayers, filled with Flatteries and Compliments, despis’d even by wise Men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to Joseph Huey (6 Jun 1753)
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Added on 15-Oct-20 | Last updated 15-Oct-20
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It is better to go skiing and think of God, than to go to church and think of sport.

Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930) Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian
(Attributed)
Added on 8-Oct-20 | Last updated 8-Oct-20
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In the most deeply significant of the legends concerning Jesus, we are told how the devil took him up into a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time; and the devil said unto him: “All this power will I give unto thee, and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” Jesus, as we know, answered and said “Get thee behind me, Satan!” And he really meant it; he would have nothing to do with worldly glory, with “temporal power;” he chose the career of a revolutionary agitator, and died the death of a disturber of the peace. And for two or three centuries his church followed in his footsteps, cherishing his proletarian gospel. The early Christians had “all things in common, except women;” they lived as social outcasts, hiding in deserted catacombs, and being thrown to lions and boiled in oil.

But the devil is a subtle worm; he does not give up at one defeat, for he knows human nature, and the strength of the forces which battle for him. He failed to get Jesus, but he came again, to get Jesus’ church. He came when, through the power of the new revolutionary idea, the Church had won a position of tremendous power in the decaying Roman Empire; and the subtle worm assumed the guise of no less a person than the Emperor himself, suggesting that he should become a convert to the new faith, so that the Church and he might work together for the greater glory of God. The bishops and fathers of the Church, ambitious for their organization, fell for this scheme, and Satan went off laughing to himself. He had got everything he had asked from Jesus three hundred years before; he had got the world’s greatest religion.

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
The Profits of Religion, Book Seven “The Church of the Social Revolution” (1917)
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Added on 27-Aug-20 | Last updated 27-Aug-20
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The supreme crime of the church to-day is that everywhere and in all its operations and influences it is on the side of sloth of mind; that it banishes brains, it sanctifies stupidity, it canonizes incompetence.

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
The Profits of Religion, Book Two: “The Church of Good Society,” “The Canonization of Incompetence” (1917)
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Added on 13-Aug-20 | Last updated 13-Aug-20
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The philosophical historian must admit that all the changes which the Catholic Church has undergone — its concessions to Pagan superstition, its secular power, its ruthless extirpation of rebels against its authority, its steadily growing centralisation and autocracy — were forced upon it in the struggle for existence. Those who wish that Church history had been different are wishing the impossible, or wishing that the Church had perished. But this argument is not valid as a defence of a divine institution. It is rather a merciless exposure of what happens, and must happen, to a great idea when it is enslaved by an institution of its own creation. The political organisation which has grown up round the idea ends by strangling it, and continues to fight for its own preservation by the methods which govern the policy of all other political organisations –force, fraud, and accommodation.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Institutionalism and Mysticism” (1914), Outspoken Essays: First Series (1914)
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Added on 6-Jul-20 | Last updated 6-Jul-20
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Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion in to after-dinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing) I shall drink — to the Pope, if you please, — still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) English prelate, Catholic Cardinal, theologian
Reply to Mr. Gladstone’s Pamphlet [Letter to the Duke of Norfolk], sec. 5 “Conscience” (1875)
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Added on 23-Jun-20 | Last updated 23-Jun-20
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My personal disillusionment with the church began when I was thrust into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery. I was confident that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would prove strong allies in our just cause. But some became open adversaries, some cautiously shrank from the issue, and others hid behind silence. My optimism about help from the white church was shattered; and on too many occasions since, my hopes for the white church have been dashed. There are many signs that the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. Unless the early sacrificial spirit is recaptured, I am very much afraid that today’s Christian church will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and we will see the Christian church dismissed as a social club with no meaning or effectiveness for our time, as a form without substance, as salt without savor. The real tragedy, though, is not Martin Luther King’s disillusionment with the church — for I am sustained by its spiritual blessings as a minister of the gospel with a lifelong commitment: The tragedy is that in my travels, I meet young people of all races whose disenchantment with the church has soured into outright disgust.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 28-Dec-18 | Last updated 28-Dec-18
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The essence of the Epistles of Paul is that Christians should rejoice at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believe. The projection of a social gospel, in my opinion, is the true witness of a Christian life. This is the meaning of the true ekklesia — the inner, spiritual church. The church once changed society. It was then a thermostat of society. But today I feel that too much of the church is merely a thermometer, which measures rather than molds popular opinion.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 15-Oct-18 | Last updated 15-Oct-18
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There are many signs that the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. Unless the early sacrificial spirit is recaptured, I am very much afraid that today’s Christian church will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and we will see the Christian church dismissed as a social club with no meaning or effectiveness for our time, as a form without substance, as salt without savor. The real tragedy, though, is not Martin Luther King’s disillusionment with the church — for I am sustained by its spiritual blessings as a minister of the gospel with a lifelong commitment. The tragedy is that in my travels, I meet young people of all races whose disenchantment with the church has soured into outright disgust.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 6-Apr-18 | Last updated 6-Apr-18
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There are three possible ways in which the church can act toward the state: in the first place, as has been said, it can ask the state whether its actions are legitimate and in accordance with its character as state, i.e., it can throw the state back on its responsibilities. Secondly, it can aid the victims of state action. The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering society, even if they do not belong to the Christian community. “Do good to all men.” In both these course of action, the church serves the free state in its free way, and at times when laws are changed the church may in no way withdraw itself from these two tasks.

The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself. Such action would be direct political action, and is only possible and required when the church sees the state fail in its function of creating law and order, i.e., when it sees the state unrestrainedly bring about too much or too little law and order.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) German Lutheran pastor, theologian, martyr
“The Church and the Jewish Question” (1933)
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On the need for Christian clergy to actively oppose the Nazi regime's persecution of Jews.
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Depend upon it, as long as the church is living so much like the world, we cannot expect our children to be brought into the fold.

Dwight Lyman "D. L." Moody (1837-1899) American evangelist and publisher
God’s Good News, “Where Art Thou?” [Gen. 3:9] (1897)
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Added on 23-Oct-17 | Last updated 23-Oct-17
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I don’t go to church, but I always go to cathedrals.

Gough Whitlam (1916-2014) Australian statesman, Prime Minister (1972-75)
In the Sydney Morning Herald (29 Dec 1986)
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I find I never weary of great churches. It is my favorite kind of mountain scenery. Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral: a thing as single and specious as a statue at first glance, and yet, on examination, as lively and interesting as a forest in detail.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
An Inland Voyage, “Noyon Cathedral” (1878)
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Added on 3-Mar-17 | Last updated 3-Mar-17
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[Dr. John] Campbell is a good man, a pious man. I am afraid he has not been in the inside of a church for many years; but he never passes a church without
pulling off his hat. This shews that he has good principles.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (1 Jul 1763)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
Added on 24-Feb-17 | Last updated 24-Feb-17
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“Which of them shall be accounted greatest?” Let the churches stop trying to outstrip each other in the number of their adherents, the size of its sanctuary, the abundance of wealth. If we must compete let us compete to see which can move toward the greatest attainment of truth, the greatest service of the poor, and the greatest salvation of the soul and bodies of men. If the Church entered this kind of competition we can imagine what a better world this would be.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Cooperative Competition / Noble Competition,” sermon outline
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Added on 30-Dec-16 | Last updated 30-Dec-16
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I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Essays, First Series, “Self-Reliance” (1841)
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The conception of men as united to each other, and of all mankind as united to God, by mutual obligations arising from their relation to a common end, which vaguely conceived and imperfectly realized, had been the keystone holding together the social fabric, ceased to be impressed upon men’s minds, when Church and State withdrew from the centre of social life to its circumference. What remained … was private rights and private interests, the materials of a society rather than a society itself.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 2 “Rights and Functions” (1920)
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Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks. Then I looked to individual writers who, as literary guides of Germany, had written much and often concerning the place of freedom in modern life; but they, too, were mute.

Only the church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
(Disputed)

Regarding the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. Originally attributed in S. Parkes Cadman, "The Conflict Between Church And State In The Third Reich," La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press (28 Oct 1934), noted as a "free translation" made by a colleague of the writer. Made famous in being quoted in Time (23 Dec 1940). Einstein himself said that he'd said something like this to a journalist, noting that the only German intellectuals supporting individual rights and intellectual freedom in the early Nazi regime were a few churchmen. He later suggested that his words on the matter had been significantly exaggerated, and issued much more critical statements about how the Catholic Church, in particular, had been silent or collaborated with the Nazi regime. More discussion here and here.
Added on 23-Nov-16 | Last updated 23-Nov-16
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They will have Christ for a Lord and not for a Brother. Christ preaches the greatness of man, but we hear only the greatness of Christ.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1838)
Added on 31-Oct-16 | Last updated 31-Oct-16
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But if at the Church they would give us some ale,
And a pleasant fire, our souls to regale,
We’d sing and we’d pray all the live-long day,
Nor ever once wish from the Church to stray.
… And God like a father rejoicing to see
His children as pleasant and happy as he,
Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the barrel,
But kiss him and give him both drink and apparel.

William Blake (1757-1827) English poet, mystic, artist
“The Little Vagabond,” Songs of Experience (1794)
Added on 21-Oct-16 | Last updated 21-Oct-16
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Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.

sunday-church-christian-garage-automobile-wist_info-quote

William Ashley "Billy" Sunday (1862-1935) American athlete, evangelist, preacher
In William T. Ellis, “Billy” Sunday, The Man and his Message, ch. 12 (1914)
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Same sex marriage isn’t gay privilege, it’s equal rights. Privilege would be something like gay people not paying taxes. Like churches don’t.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (5 Feb 2014)
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The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Savior, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (22 Mar 1767)
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In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 24-Dec-15 | Last updated 24-Dec-15
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This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects — education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects — military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden — that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, ch. 8 (1952)
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Added on 2-Dec-15 | Last updated 18-Apr-16
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Religion that seeks to be no more than a time capsule is likely to be claustrophobic.

Abdal Hakim Murad (b. 1960) British Muslim shaykh, researcher, writer, academic [b. Timothy John Winter]
“Contentions 2,” # 8
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I don’t have anything against God. Far from it. But I don’t understand Him. And I don’t trust a lot of the people that go around claiming that they’re working in His best interests.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Grave Peril, ch. 24 (2008)
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Added on 27-Jan-15 | Last updated 27-Jan-15
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A religion without mystics is a philosophy.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
“How the Church Will Change,” interview with Eugenio Scalfari, La Repubblica (1 Oct 2013) [tr. K Wallace]
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Added on 5-Nov-14 | Last updated 5-Nov-14
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I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
“How the Church Will Change,” interview with Eugenio Scalfari, La Repubblica (1 Oct 2013) [tr. K Wallace]
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It also happens to me that when I meet a clericalist, I suddenly become anti-clerical. Clericalism should not have anything to do with Christianity. St. Paul, who was the first to speak to the Gentiles, the pagans, to believers in other religions, was the first to teach us that.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
“How the Church Will Change,” interview with Eugenio Scalfari, La Repubblica (1 Oct 2013) [tr. K Wallace]
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Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
“How the Church Will Change,” interview with Eugenio Scalfari, La Repubblica (1 Oct 2013) [tr. K Wallace]
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I think if the church put in half the time on covetousness that it does on lust, this would be a better world for all of us.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
Lake Wobegon Days (1985)
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The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefiting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger: nothing ever comes out for the poor.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
In “Pope Francis: I’m Not a Marxist,” TIME (15 Dec 2013)
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On the "trickle-down" theory.
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Of course it is quite a different matter if we consider the utility of religion as a prop of thrones; for where these are held “by the grace of God,” throne and altar are intimately associated; and every wise prince who loves his throne and his family will appear at the head of his people as an exemplar of true religion.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Religion and Other Essays: A Dialogue,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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The churches used to win their arguments against atheism, agnosticism, and other burning issues by burning the ism-ists, which is fine proof that there is a devil but hardly evidence that there is a God.

Ben Lindsey (1869-1943) American jurist and social reformer [Benjamin Barr Lindsey]
The Revolt of Modern Youth (1925)
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Apart from moral conduct, all that man thinks himself able to do in order to become acceptable to God is mere superstition and religious folly. If once a man has come to the idea of a service which is not purely moral, but is supposed to be agreeable to God himself, or capable of propitiating him, there is little difference between the several ways of serving him. For all these ways are of equal value. … Whether the devotee accomplishes his statutory walk to the church, or whether he undertakes a pilgrimage to the sanctuaries of Loretto and Palestine, whether he repeats his prayer-formulas with his lips, or like the Tibetan, uses a prayer-wheel … is quite indifferent. As the illusion of thinking that a man can justify himself before God in any way by acts of worship is religious superstition, so the illusion that he can obtain this justification by the so-called intercourse with God is religious mysticism. Such superstition leads inevitably to sacerdotalism which will always be found where the essence is sought not in principles of morality, but in statutory commandments, rules of faith and observances

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) German philosopher
Quoted in Karl Hillebrand, Lectures on German Thought, Lecture 5 “The Triumvirate of Goethe, Kant, and Schiller (1787-1800)” (1879)
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As everybody likes to be honoured, so people imagine that God also wants to be honoured. They forget that the fulfillment of duty towards men is the only honour adequate to him. Thus is formed the conception of a religion of worship, supposed to be agreeable to God himself, and capable of propitiating him, instead of a merely moral religion.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) German philosopher
Quoted in Karl Hillebrand, Lectures on German Thought, Lecture 5 “The Triumvirate of Goethe, Kant, and Schiller (1787-1800)” (1879)
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The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive their flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Time Enough for Love, “Intermission” (1973)
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Most Mens Anger about Religion is as if two Men should quarrel for a Lady they neither of them care for.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Religion,” Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
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The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.

  1. That there is one only God, and he is all perfect.
  2. That there is a future state of rewards and punishments.
  3. That to love God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself is the sum of religion.

These are the great points on which he endeavored to reform the religion of the Jews. 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, are nothing.
  3. That faith is every thing, and the more incomprehensible the proposition, the more merit in its 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.

Now, which of these is the true and charitable Christian?

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Benjamin Waterhouse (26 Jun 1822)
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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 purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith [Margaret Bayard Smith] (6 Aug 1816)
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The neer to the church, the further from God.

John Heywood (1497?-1580?) English playwright and epigrammist
Proverbes, Part 1, ch. 9 (1546)
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Fear: A club used by priests, presidents, kings and policemen to keep the people from recovering stolen goods.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
The Roycroft Dictionary (1914)
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