Quotations about   organized religion

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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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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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“Do unto others …” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that’s exactly what it is -­‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”

You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
“Why I’m an Atheist,” Wall Street Journal (19 Dec 2010)
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Added on 4-Aug-16 | Last updated 4-Aug-16
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A professional priesthood is like a group of professional politicians. First of all, it is under an obligation to keep itself in office.

Hendrik Willem van Loon (1882-1944) Dutch-American historian and journalist
The Arts (1939)
Added on 5-Apr-16 | Last updated 5-Apr-16
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Jesus is great, I love Jesus — is there a better role model? No. It’s religion, it’s the people who get in between, it’s the bureaucracy, you know? […] It’s how people abuse Jesus. Was there ever a greater victim of name dropping than Jesus Christ?

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Be More Cynical (2000)
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Added on 17-Feb-16 | Last updated 17-Feb-16
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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)
Added on 9-May-11 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
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When religion becomes organzied, man ceases to be free. It is not God that is worshiped but the group or the authority that claims to speak in his name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority and not violation of integrity.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975) Indian philosopher, statesman
East and West: Some Reflections, Preface (1955)
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Variants:
  • "It is not God that is worshiped but the authority that claims to speak in His name."
  • An expanded version in Religion, Science and Culture, ch. 3 "The World Communities of Ideals" (1965) includes an inserted second sentence: "If we think that it is a question of life or death -- what concept of God we accept -- then our hearts are filled with fury."
Added on 22-Dec-10 | Last updated 2-Aug-16
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The church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
A Tramp Abroad (1880)
Added on 16-Aug-07 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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