Quotations about:
    orthodoxy


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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 Margaret Bayard Smith (6 Aug 1816)
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Added on 25-Jul-22 | Last updated 25-Jul-22
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And that this is the Case very often, we may observe from the Behaviour of some of the most zealous for Orthodoxy, who have often great Friendships and Intimacies with vicious immoral Men, provided they do but agree with them in the same Scheme of Belief.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator, #185 (2 Oct 1711)
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Added on 27-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
Optimism, Part 2 (1903)
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See Parker.
 
Added on 1-Dec-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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The greatest danger that threatens us is neither heterodox thought nor orthodox thought, but the absence of thought.

Henry Steele Commager (1902-1998) American historian, writer, activist
Civil Liberties under Attack (1951)
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Added on 1-Dec-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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By force you can make hypocrites — men who will agree with you from the teeth out, and in their hearts hate you. We want no more hypocrites. We have enough in every community. And how are you going to keep from having more? By having the air free, — by wiping from your statute books such miserable and infamous laws as this.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
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Added on 22-Sep-21 | Last updated 22-Sep-21
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Conformity may give you a quiet life; it may even bring you to a University Chair. But all change in history, all advance, comes from the nonconformists. If there had been no trouble-makers, no Dissenters, we should still be living in caves.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“The Radical Tradition: Fox, Paine, and Cobbett,” The Trouble Makers: Dissent over Foreign Policy, 1792–1939 (1969)
 
Added on 10-May-21 | Last updated 17-May-21
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To write in plain, vigorous language one has to think fearlessly, and if one thinks fearlessly one cannot be politically orthodox.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“The Prevention of Literature,” Polemic (Jan 1946)
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Added on 13-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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I think vital Religion has always suffer’d, when Orthodoxy is more regarded than Virtue. And the Scripture assures me, that at the last Day, we shall not be examin’d what we thought, but what we did; and our Recommendation will not be that we said Lord, Lord, but that we did GOOD to our Fellow Creatures.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to his parents, Josiah and Abiah Franklin (13 Apr 1738)
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Franklin cites Matt. 26 in the letter, but it should be Matt. 25:31-46.
 
Added on 1-Oct-20 | Last updated 8-Jul-21
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The truth is always in the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because as a rule the minority is made up of those who actually have an opinion, while the strength of the majority is illusory, formed of that crowd which has no opinion — and which therefore the next moment (when it becomes clear that the minority is the stronger) adopts the latter’s opinion, which now is in the majority, i.e., becomes rubbish by having the whole retinue and numerousness on its side, while the truth is again in a new minority.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
Journal (1850)
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Added on 8-Feb-17 | Last updated 8-Feb-17
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If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Added on 6-Feb-17 | Last updated 27-May-20
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There is nothing more innately human than the tendency to transmute what has become customary into what has been divinely ordained.

la-follett-customary-into-divinely-ordained-wist_info-quote

Suzanne La Follette (1893-1983) American journalist, author, feminist
Concerning Women, “The Beginnings of Emancipation”(1926)
 
Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

Nietzche - hold-in-higher-esteem - wist.info-quote

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
The Dawn (1881)

Alternate translation:

The surest way of ruining a youth is to teach him to respect those who think as he does more highly than those who think differently from him.
[tr. Hollingdale (1982)]
 
Added on 13-Dec-16 | Last updated 4-Nov-22
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Your God is the best God.
In fact, he’s the only God.
All other Gods are ridiculous, made up rubbish.
Not yours though. Yours is real.

Gervais - your god is the best god - wist_info quote

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (11 Sep 2012)
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Added on 18-Aug-16 | Last updated 18-Aug-16
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The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
(Attributed)
 
Added on 15-Jul-16 | Last updated 15-Jul-16
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Admiration for ourselves and our institutions is too often measured by our contempt and dislike for foreigners.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Our Present Discontents,” Outspoken Essays: First Series (1919)
 
Added on 14-Dec-15 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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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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Added on 20-Aug-14 | Last updated 20-Aug-14
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Every religion consists of moral precepts, & of dogmas. In the first they all agree. All forbid us to murder, steal, plunder, bear false witness Etc. and these are the articles necessary for the preservation of order, justice, & happiness in society. In their particular dogmas all differ; no two professing the same. These respect vestments, ceremonies, physical opinions, & metaphysical speculations, totally unconnected with morality, & 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, & now of Trinitarians, Unitarians, Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, Methodists, Baptists, Quakers Etc. Among the Mahometans we are told that thousands fell victims to the dispute whether the first or second toe of Mahomet was longest; & what blood, how many human lives have the words ‘this do in remembrance of me’ cost the Christian world!

We all agree in the obligation of the moral precepts of Jesus: but we schismatize & lose ourselves in subtleties about his nature, his conception maculate or immaculate, whether he was a god or not a god, whether his votaries are to be initiated by simple aspersion, by immersion, or without water; whether his priests must be robed in white, in black, or not robed at all; whether we are to use our own reason, or the reason of others, in the opinions we form, or as to the evidence we are to believe. It is on questions of this, & still less importance, that such oceans of human blood have been spilt, & whole regions of the earth have been desolated by wars & persecutions, in which human ingenuity has been exhausted in inventing new tortures for their brethren.

It is time then to become sensible how insoluble these questions are by minds like ours, how unimportant, & how mischievous; & to consign them to the sleep of death, never to be awakened from it. The varieties in the structure & action of the human mind, as in those of the body, are the work of our creator, against which it cannot be a religious duty to erect the standard of uniformity.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to James Fishback [draft] (27 Sep 1809)
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Jefferson seriously dialed back his actual response, though he kept both in his files; the final letter read, in this passage:

The interests of society require the observation of those moral precepts only in which all religions agree, (for all forbid us to murder, steal, plunder, or bear false witness.) and that we should not intermeddle with the particular dogmas in which all religions differ, and which are totally unconnected with morality. in all of them we see good men, & as many in one as another. The varieties in the structure & action of the human mind as in those of the body, are the work of our creator, against which it cannot be a religious duty to erect the standard of uniformity.
 
Added on 7-Feb-13 | Last updated 10-Jul-22
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Orthodoxy:

  1. In religion, that state of mind which congratulates itself on being absolutely right, and a belief that all who think otherwise are wholly wrong.
  2. A faith in the fixed — a worship of the static.
  3. The joy that comes from thinking that most everybody is lined up for Limbus with no return ticket.
  4. A condition brought about by the sprites of Humor, according to the rule that whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.
  5. The zenith of selfishness and the nadir of egotism.
  6. Mephisto with a lily in his hand.
  7. A corpse that does not know it is dead.
  8. Spiritual constipation.
  9. That peculiar condition where the patient can neither eliminate an old idea or absorb a new one.
Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
The Roycroft Dictionary (1914)
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Added on 18-Nov-11 | Last updated 14-Sep-20
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Heresy is what the minority believe; it is the name given by the powerful to the doctrine of the weak.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Heretics and Heresies” (1874)
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Added on 22-Oct-10 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17 (1782)
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Added on 19-Jul-10 | Last updated 4-Jul-22
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But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature. Introduce the bed of Procrustes then, and as there is danger that the great men may beat the small, make us all of a size, by lopping the former and stretching the latter. Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor morum over each other. Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17 (1782)
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Added on 29-Apr-10 | Last updated 4-Jul-22
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A cult is a religion with no power.

Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938) American writer
In Our Time, ch. 2 (1980)
 
Added on 21-Oct-09 | Last updated 1-Jun-17
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I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous — if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Ghosts” (1877)
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Added on 14-Aug-09 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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A man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.

William Blake (1757-1827) English poet, mystic, artist
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, “A Memorable Fancy” (1790)
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Added on 29-May-09 | Last updated 15-Jun-17
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Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Strength to Love, ch. 2 “Transformed Non-Conformist” (1963)
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Added on 19-Mar-09 | Last updated 16-Jan-23
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No orthodox church ever had power that it did not endeavor to make people think its way by force and flame.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Trial of C.B. Reynolds for blasphemy (May 1887)
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Added on 19-Jun-08 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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Give any orthodox church the power, and to-day they would punish heresy with whip, and chain, and fire. As long as a church deems a certain belief essential to salvation, just so long it will kill and burn if it has the power.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Heretics and Heresies” (1874)
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Added on 5-Mar-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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Men and women have been burned for thinking there is but one God; that there was none; that the Holy Ghost is younger than God; that God was somewhat older than his son; for insisting that good works will save a man without faith; that faith will do without good works; for declaring that a sweet babe will not be burned eternally, because its parents failed to have its head wet by a priest; for speaking of God as though he had a nose; for denying that Christ was his own father; for contending that three persons, rightly added together, make more than one; for believing in purgatory; for denying the reality of hell; for pretending that priests can forgive sins; for preaching that God is an essence; for denying that witches rode through the air on sticks; for doubting the total depravity of the human heart; for laughing at irresistible grace, predestination and particular redemption; for denying that good bread could be made of the body of a dead man; for pretending that the pope was not managing this world for God, and in the place of God; for disputing the efficacy of a vicarious atonement; for thinking the Virgin Mary was born like other people; for thinking that a man’s rib was hardly sufficient to make a good-sized woman; for denying that God used his finger for a pen; for asserting that prayers are not answered, that diseases are not sent to punish unbelief; for denying the authority of the Bible; for having a Bible in their possession; for attending mass, and for refusing to attend; for wearing a surplice; for carrying a cross, and for refusing; for being a Catholic, and for being a Protestant; for being an Episcopalian, a Presbyterian, a Baptist, and for being a Quaker.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Heretics and Heresies” (1874)
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Added on 4-Feb-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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Heretics have been hateful from the beginning of recorded time; they have been ostracized, exiled, tortured, maimed, and butchered; but it has generally proved impossible to smother them; and when it has not, the society that has succeeded has always declined.

Learned Hand (1872-1961) American jurist
“A Fanfare for Prometheus,” speech, American Jewish Committee (29 Jan 1955)
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Added on 24-Sep-07 | Last updated 25-Jan-22
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On the necessary points, unity. On the questionable points, liberty. In everything, love.

[In necessariis unites, in non necessariis libertas, in omnibus caritas.]

Rupertus Meldenius (1582-1651) German writer [pseud. of Peter Meiderlin]
Paraenesis votiva pro Pace Ecclesiae ad Theologos Augustanae Confessionis (1626)

Also translated as "essentials" and "non-essentials."

Paraphrase of final lines of the work: Verbo dicam: Si nos servaremus IN necesariis Unitatem, IN non-necessariis Libertatem, IN UTRISQUE Charitatem, optimo certe loco essent res nostrae. ["In a word, were we to observe unity in essentials, liberty in incidentals, and in all things charity, our affairs would be certainly in a most happy situation."]

Commonly attributed to St Augustine, but also to John Wesley, Richard Baxter, and several others. See discussion here and here.  
 
Added on 14-Oct-05 | Last updated 8-Apr-19
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Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Jane Eyre, Preface, 2nd edition (21 Dec 1847)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Dec-15
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If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954) US Supreme Court Justice, lawyer, jurist, politician
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) [majority opinion]
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Oct-17
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Will we continue to march to the drumbeat of conformity and respectability, or will we, listening to the beat of a more distant drum, move to its echoing sounds? Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul-saving music of eternity?

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Strength to Love, ch. 2 “Transformed Nonconformist,” sec. 3 (1963)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Jan-23
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In necessary things, unity; in disputed things, liberty; in all things, charity.

Richard Baxter
Richard Baxter (1615-1691) English Puritan clergyman and writer
Motto
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-Feb-16
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It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17 (1782)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Jul-22
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