Quotations about   intolerance

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It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics. This is equally true whether the faith is Communism or Holy-Rollerism; indeed it is the bounden duty of the faithful to do so. The custodians of the True Faith cannot logically admit tolerance of heresy to be a virtue.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
“Concerning Stories Never Written” (Oct 1952)
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Added on 2-Sep-17 | Last updated 2-Sep-17
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You may rejoice to think yourselves secure,
You may be grateful for the gift divine,
That grace unsought which made your black hearts pure
And fits your earthborn souls in Heaven to shine.
But is it sweet to look around and view
Thousands excluded from that happiness,
Which they deserve at least as much as you,
Their faults not greater nor their virtues less?

Anne Brontë (1820-1849) British novelist, poet [pseud. Acton Bell]
“A Word to Calvinists” (28 May 1843)
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Added on 19-Jan-17 | Last updated 19-Jan-17
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Religious discord has lost her sting; the cumbrous weapons of theological warfare are antiquated: the field of politics supplies the alchymists of our times with materials of more fatal explosion, and the butchers of mankind no longer travel to another world for instruments of cruelty and destruction. Our age is too enlightened to contend upon topics, which concern only the interests of eternity; and men who hold in proper contempt all controversies about trifles, except such as inflame their own passions, have made it a common-place censure against your ancestors, that their zeal was enkindled by subjects of trivial importance; and that however aggrieved by the intolerance of others, they were alike intolerant themselves. Against these objections, your candid judgment will not require an unqualified justification; but your respect and gratitude for the founders of the State may boldly claim an ample apology. The original grounds of their separation from the church of England, were not objects of a magnitude to dissolve the bonds of communion; much less those of charity, between Christian brethren of the same essential principles.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Speech, Plymouth (22 Dec 1802)
Added on 28-Nov-16 | Last updated 28-Nov-16
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Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Tweet (12 Oct 2013)
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Added on 8-Sep-16 | Last updated 8-Sep-16
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We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions — bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities. Whoever seeks to set one race against another seeks to enslave all races. Whoever seeks to set one religion against another, seeks to destroy all religion.

Roosevelt - nation unity - wist_info

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Speech, Brooklyn, New York (1 Nov 1940)
Added on 19-Nov-15 | Last updated 19-Nov-15
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He was afraid that the world struggle today was not of Communism against Fascism, but of tolerance against the bigotry that was preached equally by Communism and Fascism. But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word “Fascism” and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty. For they were thieves not only of wages but of honor. To their purpose they could quote not only Scripture but Jefferson.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
It Can’t Happen Here, ch. 36 (1935)
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Added on 11-Aug-15 | Last updated 11-Aug-15
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The final battle against intolerance is to be fought, not in the chambers of any legislature, but in the hearts of men.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Hollywood Bowl, Beverly Hills, California (19 Oct 1956)
Added on 16-Jul-15 | Last updated 16-Jul-15
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For telling a good and incisive religious joke, you should be praised. For telling a bad one, you should be ridiculed and reviled. The idea that you could be prosecuted for the telling of either is quite fantastic.

Rowan Atkinson (b. 1955) English actor, comedian, and screenwriter
Letter to The Times of London (Oct 2001)
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Regarding proposed legislation outlaw "incitement to religious hatred."
Added on 8-May-15 | Last updated 8-May-15
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Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Letter to Edward Newenham (30 Oct 1792)
Added on 6-May-15 | Last updated 6-May-15
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If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia (May 1789)
Added on 29-Apr-15 | Last updated 29-Apr-15
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Toward no crime have men shown themselves so cold-bloodedly cruel as in punishing differences of belief.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
Among My Books (1870)
Added on 3-Apr-15 | Last updated 3-Apr-15
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The price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that some day they might force their beliefs on us.

Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) American politician
“Religious Belief and Public Morality,” John A. O’Brien Lecture, U. of Notre Dame (13 Sep 1984)
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Added on 6-Mar-15 | Last updated 6-Mar-15
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We have abundant reason to rejoice, that, in this land, the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened age, & in this land of equal liberty, it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining & holding the highest offices that are known in the United States.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Letter to the New Church (22 Jan 1793)
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Added on 25-Feb-15 | Last updated 25-Feb-15
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There are those who believe something, and therefore will tolerate nothing; and on the other hand, those who tolerate everything, because they believe nothing.

Robert Browning (1812-1889) English poet
(Attributed)
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Cited in Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908 ed.).
Added on 30-Jan-15 | Last updated 30-Jan-15
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How important are free speech and satire? Important enough that people will murder others to silence the kind of speech they don’t like.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Twitter (7 Jan 2014)
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Regarding the mass murder at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.
Added on 13-Jan-15 | Last updated 13-Jan-15
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The only thing I really can’t tolerate is intolerance. I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending — if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism. Mutual respect and tolerance is great, but it doesn’t work without the mutuality.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
“Multiculturalism or Liberalism?” Charlie’s Blog (30 May 2002)
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Added on 12-Sep-14 | Last updated 12-Mar-19
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I believe we are descendid from the Puritins, who nobly fled from a land of despitism to a land of freedim, where they could not only enjoy their own religion, but prevent everybody else from enjoyin his.

[I believe we are descended from the Puritans, who nobly fled from a land of despotism to a land of freedom, where they could not only enjoy their own religion, but prevent everybody else from enjoying his.]

Artemus Ward (1834-1867) American humorist, editor, lecturer [pseud. of Charles Farrar Browne]
“Is Introduced at the Club,” The Complete Works of Artemus Ward (1898)
Added on 2-Sep-14 | Last updated 2-Sep-14
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It always pains me greatly to discover how some Christian communities, and even consecrated persons, can tolerate different forms of enmity, division, calumny, defamation, vendetta, jealousy and the desire to impose certain ideas at all costs, even to persecutions which appear as veritable witch hunts. Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 100 (24 Nov 2013)
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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)
Added on 24-Feb-14 | Last updated 24-Feb-14
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He who does not punish evil commands it to be done.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Italian artist, engineer, scientist
Note-books (1508-1518)
Added on 3-Jan-14 | Last updated 8-Jan-15
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Every religion consists of moral precepts, and of dogmas. In the first they all agree.All forbid us to murder, steal, plunder, bear false witness &ca. and these are the articles necessary for the preservation of order, justice, and happiness in society. In their particular dogmas all differ; no two professing the same. These respect vestments, ceremonies, physical opinions, and metaphysical speculations, totally unconnected with morality, and unimportant to the legitimate objects of society. Yet these are the questions on which have hung the bitter schisms of Nazarenes, Socinians, Arians, Athanasians in former times, and now of Trinitarians, Unitarians, Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, Methodists, Baptists, Quakers &c. Among the Mahometans we are told that thousands fell victims to the dispute whether the first or second toe of Mahomet was longest; and what blood, how many human lives have the words “this do in remembrance of me” cost the Christian world!

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to James Fishback (Sep 1809)
Added on 7-Feb-13 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
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We are now again in an epoch of wars of religion, but a religion is now called an “ideology.”

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“Philosophy and Politics” (1946)
Added on 16-Dec-10 | Last updated 29-Jan-14
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Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion — several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Letters from Earth (1939)
Added on 24-Jun-09 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish,” Unpopular Essays (1950)
Added on 23-Sep-08 | Last updated 29-Jan-14
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If a man really believes that God once upheld slavery; that he commanded soldiers to kill women and babes; that he believed in polygamy; that he persecuted for opinion’s sake; that he will punish forever, and that he hates an unbeliever, the effect in my judgment will be bad. It always has been bad. This belief built the dungeons of the Inquisition. This belief made the Puritan murder the Quaker.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Interview, The Sunday Union, New Haven, Conn. (10 Apr 1881)
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Religious persecution may shield itself under the guise of a mistaken and over-zealous piety.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
Speech (18 Feb 1788)

Quoted in E. A. Bond (ed.), Speeches ... in the Trial of Warren Hastings, vol. 1 (1859)
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Why should man be afraid to think, and why should he fear to express his thoughts? Is it possible that an infinite Deity is unwilling that a man should investigate the phenomena by which he is surrounded? Is it possible that a god delights in threatening and terrifying men? What glory, what honor and renown a god must win on such a field! The ocean raving at a drop; a star envious of a candle; the sun jealous of a fire-fly.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Heretics and Heresies” (1874)
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Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end — where all men and all churches are treated as equal — where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice — where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind — and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Greater Houston Ministerial Association (12 Sep 1960)
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Added on 20-Dec-07 | Last updated 21-Jul-14
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Every evil in the bud is easily crushed: as it grows older, it becomes stronger.

[Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur; inveteratum fit pleurumque robustius.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Philippicae, V, 11
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Dec-13
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No loss of flood and lightning, no destruction of cities and temples by hostile forces of nature, has deprived man of so many noble lives and impulses as those which his intolerance has destroyed.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
“Optimism,” part 2 (1903)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Feb-15
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Let’s never forget that we ALL have aspects about us which could cause us to find ourselves on the sharp-edged side of the razorwired fence should the winds of mass hysteria, whipped up from public opinion by demagogues, shift.

Other Authors and Sources
Bruce Little, Belief-L
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Apr-14
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