Quotations about   priesthood

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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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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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They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Matthew 15:14 [KJV]

Jesus referring to the Pharisees.
Added on 4-Jan-16 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticisms 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 & pre-eminence. The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them: and for this obvious reason that nonsense can never be explained.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to John Adams (5 Jul 1814)
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Added on 19-Sep-13 | Last updated 14-Jul-22
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What an effort, my dear Sir, of bigotry in Politics & Religion have we gone through. The barbarians really flattered themselves they should even be able to bring back the times of Vandalism, when ignorance put every thing into the hands of power & priestcraft. All advances in science were proscribed as innovations. They pretended to praise & encourage education, but it was to be vain the education of our ancestors. We were to look backwards not forwards for improvement, the President himself declaring in one of his answers to addresses that we were never to expect to go beyond them in real science. This was the real ground of all the attacks on you: those who live by mystery & charlatanerie, fearing you would render them useless by simplifying the Christian philosophy, the most sublime & benevolent, but most perverted system that ever shone on man, endeavored to crush your well earnt, & well deserved fame.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Joseph Priestley (21 Mar 1801)
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Added on 1-Aug-13 | Last updated 14-Jul-22
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… [P]riests of the different religious sects, who dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of day-light; and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversion of the duperies on which they live.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to José Corrêa da Serra (11 Apr 1820)
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On resistance, particularly from Presbyterians, to the founding of the University of Virginia.
Added on 6-Jun-11 | Last updated 10-Jul-22
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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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And his hands would plait the priest’s entrails,
For want of a rope, to strangle kings.

[Et ses mains ourdiraient les entrailles du prêtre,
Au défaut d’un cordon pour étrangler les rois.]

Denis Diderot (1713-1784) French editor, philosopher
Poésies Diverses, “Les Éleuthéromanes” (1875)

Alt. trans. "His hands would plait the priest’s guts, if he had no rope, to strangle kings."

Derived from a statement attributed (but not confirmed) to Jean Meslier: "I would like — and this would be the last and most ardent of my wishes — I would like the last of the kings to be strangled by the guts of the last priest."

Variant: "Let us strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest."
[Et des boyaux du dernier prêtre / Serrons le cou du dernier roi.]

This version was attributed to Diderot in Jean-François de La Harpe,  Cours de Littérature Ancienne et Moderne (1840)

Sometimes paraphrased as, ""Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest," etc.
Added on 20-Nov-08 | Last updated 24-Jul-20
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The Priesthood, have in all ancient Nations, nearly monopolized Learning. Read over again all the Accounts We have of Hindoos, Chaldeans, Persians Greeks, Romans, Celts, Teutons, We Shall find that Priests had all the Knowledge, and really governed all Mankind. Examine Mahometanism. Trace Christianity from its first Promulgation, Knowledge has been almost exclusively confined to the Clergy. And even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting Sect, who would tolerate, A free Inquiry? The blackest Billingate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently endured countenanced propagated and applauded: But touch a solemn Truth in collission with a dogma of a Sect, though capable of the clearest proof; and you will Soon find you have disturbed a Nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands and fly into your face and Eyes.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to John Taylor (24 Jan 1815)
Added on 18-Jul-08 | Last updated 19-Oct-21
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