Quotations about:
    religious persecution


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Christians are beginning to lose the spirit of intolerance which animated them: experience has shown the error of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, and of the persecution of those Christians in France whose belief differed a little from that of the king. They have realized that zeal for the advancement of religion is different from a due attachment to it; and that in order to love it and fulfill its behests, it is not necessary to hate and persecute those who are opposed to it.

[On commence à se défaire parmi les chrétiens de cet esprit d’intolérance qui les animoit : on s’est mal trouvé en Espagne, de les avoir chassés, et en France, d’avoir fatigué des chrétiens dont la croyance différoit un peu de celle du prince. On s’est aperçu que le zèle pour les progrès de la religion est différent de l’attachement qu’on doit avoir pour elle ; et que, pour l’aimer et l’observer, il n’est pas nécessaire de haïr et de persécuter ceux qui ne l’observent pas.]

Charles-Lewis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) French political philosopher
Persian Letters [Lettres Persanes], Letter 60, Usbek to Ibben (1721) [tr. Davidson (1891)]
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Referring to the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, and the persecution of the Huguenots (Protestants) in France culminating under Louis XIV in the late 17th Century (and who were still being persecuted while Montesquieu was writing this).

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

The Christians begin to lay aside that untolerating Spirit, which used to sway them: the Spaniards are sensible how much they have lost by driving the Jews out, and the French by vexing of Christians whose Belief differed a little from that of the Prince. They are now convinced that the Zeal for the Progress of a Religion, is very different form the Devotion she requires; and that to love and observe her, there is no manner of Necessity for hating and persecuting those who do not.
[tr. Ozell (1736), Letter 58]

Christians begin to lay aside that intolerating spirit which formerly influenced them. Spain hath experienced the bad consequence of having expelled the Jews, and France of having worried the Christians, whose faith differed a little from that of the prince. They are nos sensible that a zeal for the progress of religion is different from that attachment which ought to be preserved towards her; and that, in order to love and obey her, it is not necessary to hate and persecute those who do not regard her.
[tr. Floyd (1762)]

Christians are fast losing that spirit of intolerance which formerly animated them: they are beginning to find out that the expulsion of the Jews from Spain was a mistake, and that the persecution of Christians in France whose beliefs differed a little from those of their sovereign was another. They have discovered that fanatic zeal for the advancement of a religion is far different from the attachment which every one ought to feel towards it, and that, in order to love and practise its precepts, it is not necessary to hate and afflict those who refuse to do so.
[tr. Betts (1897)]

The Christians are beginning to lose that spirit of intolerance which animated them. It is now seen that it was a mistake to chase the Jews from Spain, and to persecute French Christians whose belief differed a bit from that of the king. They now perceive that zeal for the expansion of religion is different from dutiful devotion to it, and that love and observance of a religion need not require hatred and persecution of those who do not so believe.
[tr. Healy (1964)]

Christians are beginning to abandon that spirit of intolerance which formerly inspired them; the Spanish regret having banished the Jews, and the French regret having persecuted Christians whose beliefs differed slightly from those of their monarch. They have realized that zeal for the advancement of religion is different form the love one should bear it, and that in order to love it, and observe its precepts, there is no need to hate and persecute those who do not do so.
[tr. Mauldon (2008), Letter 58]

The Christians are beginning to abandon that old spirit of religious intolerance; it was a mistake to expel the Jews from Spain, just as it was to persecute the Christians in France whose beliefs differed only slightly from those of their king. They have realized here that zeal for the advancement of one's religion is different from the attachment one ought to have for it, and that to love and observe one's faith, it is not necessary to hate and persecute those who do not observe it.
[tr. MacKenzie (2014)]

 
Added on 13-Feb-24 | Last updated 13-Feb-24
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More quotes by Montesquieu, Baron de

For love of God, cheerfully endure everything — labour, sorrow, temptation, provocation, anxiety, necessity, weakness, injury and insult; censure, humiliation, disgrace, contradiction and contempt. All these things foster your growth in virtue, for they test the unproved servant of Christ, and form the jewels of his heavenly crown.

[Pro amore Dei debes omnia libenter subire , labores scilicet et dolores, tentationes et vexationes, anxietates et necessitates , infirmitates , injurias, oblocutiones , reprehensiones, humiliationes, confusiones, correctiones et despectiones. Haec juvant ad virtutem , haec probant Christi tironem, haec fabricant coelestem coronam.]

Thomas von Kempen
Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471) German-Dutch priest, author
The Imitation of Christ [De Imitatione Christi], Book 3, ch. 5, v. 2 (3.5.2) (c. 1418-27) [tr. Sherley-Price (1952)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

For the love of God thou oughtest to suffer gladly all things, that is to say, all labours, sorrows, temptations, vexations, anguishes, neediness, sickness, injuries, evil sayings, reprovings, oppressions, confusions, corrections, and despisings. These help a man greatly to virtue, these prove the true knight of Christ, and make ready for him the heavenly crown.
[tr. Whitford/Raynal (1530/1871)]

You ought gladly to suffer all things for the love of God: all labors, sorrows, temptations, vexations; all anguish, need, sickness, injuries, evil sayings, reproaches; all oppressions, confusions, corrections, and despisings. These greatly help a man to virtue; these prove the true knight of Christ and prepare for him a heavenly crown.
[tr. Whitford/Gardiner (1530/1955)]

Thou oughtest for the love of God willingly to undergoe whatsoever labours, to endure whatsoever griefes, temptations, vexations, anxieties, necessities, infirmities, onjuries, detractions, reprehensions, humiliations, confusions, corrections, and contempts. These helpe to the attaining of vertue: these try a Novice of Christ, these make up an heavenly Crowne.
[tr. Page (1639), 3.35.8-9]

In obedience to his Will, you should contentedly undergo Labour and Toil, Tryals and Troubles, Distress and Anguish of Heart, Poverty and Want, Infirmities and Diseases, Injuries and Affronts, Scandal and Reproach, Disparagement and Disgrace, Punishment and Torture. These whet and brighten a Christian's Virtue, exercise and distinguish him. These Thorns are woven into Wreaths of Glory.
[tr. Stanhope (1696; 1706 ed.), 3.40]

For the love of God, therefore, thou must cheerfully and patiently endure labor and sorrow, persecution, temptation, and anxiety, poverty, and want, pain and sickness, detraction, reproof, humiliation, confusion, correction and contempt. By these the virtues of the new man Christ Jesus are exercised and strengthened; these form the ornaments of his celestial crown.
[tr. Payne (1803), 3.27.8]

For the love of God thou oughtest cheerfully to undergo all things, that is to say, all labour and pain, temptation, vexation, anxiety, necessity, infirmity, injury, obloquy, reproof, humiliation, confusion, correction, and scorn [of every kind and degree.] These help to virtue; these are the trial of a novice in Christ; these frame the heavenly Crown.
[ed. Parker (1841)]

For the love of GOD, therefore, thou must cheerfully and patiently endure all things: labour and sorrow, temptation, vexation and anxiety, poverty and want, pain and sickness, detraction, reproof, humiliation, confusion, correction, and contempt. These help to virtue; these prove "the new man in Christ Jesus; these obtain for him the celestial crown.
[tr. Dibdin (1851), 3.31.2]

Thou must be willing, for the love of God, to suffer all things, viz., labours and sorrows, temptations and vexations, anxieties, necessities, sicknesses, injuries, obloquy, reproof, humiliation, shame, correction, and contempt. These things help to obtain virtue; these prove the young soldier of Christ; these weave a heavenly crown.
[ed. Bagster (1860)]

For the love of God thou must willingly undergo all things, whether labours or sorrows, temptations, vexations, anxieties, necessities, infirmities, injuries, gainsayings, rebukes, humiliations, confusions, corrections, despisings; these things help unto virtue, these things prove the scholar of Christ; these things fashion the heavenly crown.
[tr. Benham (1874)]

For the love of God thou oughtest cheerfully to undergo all labour, grief, temptation, vexation, anxiety, necessity, infirmity, injury, detraction, reproof, humiliation, shame, correction, and scorn. These help to virtue; these are the trial of a babe in Christ; of these consist the heavenly crown.
[tr. Anon. (1901)]

For love of God you should undergo all things cheerfully, all labors and sorrows, temptations and trials, anxieties, weaknesses, necessities, injuries, slanders, rebukes, humiliations, confusions, corrections, and contempt. For these are helps to virtue. These are the trials of Christ's recruit. These form the heavenly crown.
[tr. Croft/Bolton (1940)]

For love of God you should undergo everything cheerfully: for example, toils and pains, trials, vexations, anxieties, wants, sickness, wrongs, contradictions, reproofs, humiliations, distresses, corrections, and contempt. These are aids to character: these test the soldier of Christ: these shape the heavenly crown.
[tr. Daplyn (1952)]

For the love of God you ought to endure with gladness all that befalls you: toil and sorrow, temptations, afflictions, anxiety, want, weakness, injury and slander, rebuke, humiliation, shame, correction and scorn. All these things are aids to holiness; they test the man who has newly entered the service of Christ, and go to the making of his heavenly crown.
[tr. Knox-Oakley (1959)]

For love of God you should be prepared to endure anything -- toil, pain, temptation, vexation, anxiety, need, weakness, injustice, slander, blame, humiliation, shame, censure and contempt. Such things strengthen virtue; they test the soldier of Christ and make up his heavenly crown.
[tr. Knott (1962)]

The love of God should make you put up with everything: toil and sorrow, trials, annoyance, anxiety, restriction, weakness, injury, detraction, criticism, humiliation, shame, correction and contempt. These are aids to virtue. They are tests for one newly committed to Christ. They are the things that make up the heavenly crown.
[tr. Rooney (1979)]

Certainly you should willingly endure labor and sorrows, temptations, vexations, anxieties, necessities, illnesses, injuries, contradictions, rebukes, humiliations, doubts, chastisements and contempt. These things are all aids to virtue; these test one who has begun to follow Christ; these mold a heavenly crown.
[tr. Creasy (1989)]

 
Added on 4-Oct-23 | Last updated 4-Oct-23
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More quotes by Thomas a Kempis

Unfortunately, our own colonial history also provided ample reasons for people to be afraid to vest too much power in the national government. There had been bills of attainder here; women had been convicted and sentenced to death as “witches”; Quakers, Baptists, and various Protestant sects had been persecuted from time to time. Roger Williams left Massachusetts to breathe the free air of new Rhode Island. Catholics were barred from holding office in many places. Test oaths were required in some of the colonies to bar any but “Christians” from holding office. In New England Quakers suffered death for their faith. Baptists were sent to jail in Virginia for preaching, which caused Madison, while a very young man, to deplore what he called that “diabolical hell-conceived principle of persecution.”

Hugo Black (1886-1971) American politician and jurist, US Supreme Court Justice (1937-71)
James Madison Lecture, NYU School of Law (1960-02-17)
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The inaugural Madison lecture. Reprinted as "The Bill of Rights," NYU Law Review, Vol. 35 (Apr 1960). The Madison reference is in a letter to William Bradford (24 Jan 1774).
 
Added on 9-Mar-23 | Last updated 4-May-23
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Today most Americans seem to have forgotten the ancient evils which forced their ancestors to flee to this new country and to form a government stripped of old powers used to oppress them. But the Americans who supported the Revolution and the adoption of our Constitution knew firsthand the dangers of tyrannical governments. They were familiar with the long existing practice of English persecutions of people wholly because of their religious or political beliefs. They knew that many accused of such offenses had stood, helpless to defend themselves, before biased legislators and judges.

Hugo Black (1886-1971) American politician and jurist, US Supreme Court Justice (1937-71)
James Madison Lecture, NYU School of Law (1960-02-17)
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The inaugural Madison lecture. Reprinted as "The Bill of Rights," NYU Law Review, Vol. 35 (Apr 1960).
 
Added on 23-Feb-23 | Last updated 4-May-23
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I never saw, heard, nor read, that the clergy were beloved in any nation where Christianity was the religion of the country. Nothing can render them popular, but some degree of persecution.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Religion” (1726)
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Added on 13-Feb-23 | Last updated 13-Feb-23
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You may force men, by interest or punishment, to say or swear they believe, and to act as if they believed; you can go no farther.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Religion” (1726)
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Added on 17-Jan-23 | Last updated 17-Jan-23
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I love to see a Man zealous in a good Matter, and especially when his Zeal shews it self for advancing Morality, and promoting the Happiness of Mankind: But when I find the Instruments he works with are Racks and Gibbets, Gallies and Dungeons; when he imprisons Mens Persons, confiscates their Estates, ruins their Families, and burns the Body to save the Soul, I cannot stick to pronounce of such a one, that (whatever he may think of his Faith and Religion) his Faith is vain, and his Religion unprofitable.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
Joseph Addison, The Spectator, #185 (2 Oct 1711)
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Added on 15-Jun-22 | Last updated 15-Jun-22
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To many white Americans, President Obama must have been corrupt, because his very occupation of the White House was a kind of corruption of the traditional order. When women attain positions of political power usually reserved for men — or when Muslims, blacks, Jews, homosexuals, or “cosmopolitans” profit or even share the public goods of a democracy, such as healthcare — that is perceived as corruption.

Jason Stanley (b. 1969) American philosopher, epistemologist, academic
How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, ch. 2 (2018)
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Added on 16-Dec-21 | Last updated 16-Dec-21
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You can stand with the lash over a man, or you can stand by the prison door, or beneath the gallows, or by the stake, and say to this man: “Recant, or the lash descends, the prison door is locked upon you, the rope is put about your neck, or the torch is given to the fagot.” And so the man recants. Is he convinced? Not at all. Have you produced a new argument? Not the slightest. And yet the ignorant bigots of this world have been trying for thousands of years to rule the minds of men by brute force. They have endeavored to improve the mind by torturing the flesh — to spread religion with the sword and torch. They have tried to convince their brothers by putting their feet in iron boots, by putting fathers, mothers, patriots, philosophers and philanthropists in dungeons. And what has been the result? Are we any nearer thinking alike to-day than we were then?

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 8-Sep-21 | Last updated 8-Sep-21
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No one gets upset about the belief that rocks fall down as opposed to up, because all sane people can see it with their own eyes. Not so for the belief that babies are born with original sin or that God exists in three persons or that Ali was the second-most divinely inspired man after Muhammad. When people organize their lives around these beliefs, and then learn of other people who seem to be doing just fine without them — or worse, who credibly rebut them — they are in danger of looking like fools. Since one cannot defend a belief based on faith by persuading skeptics it is true, the faithful are apt to react to unbelief with rage, and may try to eliminate that affront to everything that makes their lives meaningful.

Steven Pinker (b. 1954) Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, author
The Better Angels of Our Nature, ch. 4 (2011)
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Added on 26-May-21 | Last updated 26-May-21
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Errors and mistakes, however gross, in matters of opinion, if they are sincere, are to be pitied, but not punished nor laughed at. The blindness of the understanding is as much to be pitied as the blindness of the eye, and there is neither jest nor guilt in a man’s losing his way in either case. Charity bids us set him right if we can, by arguments and persuasions; but charity, at the same time, forbids, either to punish or ridicule his misfortune.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #126 (21 Sep 1747)
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On religious tolerance.
 
Added on 28-Jan-21 | Last updated 12-Oct-22
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Every man’s reason is, and must be, his guide; and I may as well expect that every man should be of my size and complexion, as that he should reason just as I do. Every man seeks for truth; but God only knows who has found it. It is, therefore, as unjust to persecute as it is absurd to ridicule people for those several opinions which they cannot help entertaining upon the conviction of their reason.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #126 (21 Sep 1747)
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Speaking of religious beliefs.
 
Added on 21-Jan-21 | Last updated 13-Oct-22
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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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What havoc has been made of Books through every Century of the Christian Æra? Where are fifty Gospells condemned as spurious by the Bull of Pope Gelasius. Where are the forty Waggon Loads of Hebrew Manuscripts burned in France by order of another Pope, because suspected of Heresy? Remember the Index expurgatorius, the Inquisitions, the Stake, the Axe the halter and the Guillotine; and Oh! horrible the Rack. This is as bad if not worse than a slow fire.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to John Taylor (14 Dec 1814)
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Added on 28-Jan-16 | Last updated 19-Oct-21
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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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You are certainly right in insisting on the strong metaphysical needs of mankind; but religion appears to me to be not so much a satisfaction as an abuse of those needs. At any rate we have seen that in regard to the furtherance of morality, its utility is, for the most part, problematical, its disadvantages, and especially the atrocities which have followed in its train, are patent to the light of day.

[So hast du gewiß Recht, das starke metaphysische Bedürfniß des Menschen zu urgiren: aber die Religionen scheinen mir nicht sowohl die Befriedigung, als der Mißbrauch desselben zu seyn. Wenigstens haben wir gesehn, daß in Hinsicht auf Beförderung der Moralität ihr Nutzen großentheils problematisch ist, ihre Nachtheile hingegen und zumal die Gräuelthaten, welche in ihrem Gefolge sich eingestellt haben, am Tage liegen.]

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 2, ch. 15 “On Religion [Ueber Religion],” § 174 “A Dialogue [Ein Dialog]” (1851) [tr. Saunders (1890)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translation:
You are certainly right in advocating the strong metaphysical needs of mankind; but religions appear to me to be not so much a satisfaction as an abuse of those needs. At any rate we have seen that, in view of the progress of morality, its advantages are for the most part problematical, while its disadvantages, and especially the enormities which have appeared in its train, are obvious.
[tr. Dircks]

You are certainly right in insisting on man's strong metaphysical need. Religions, however, seem to me to be not so much a satisfaction but an abuse thereof. at any rate, we have seen that, as regards the encouragement of morality, their use is to a great extent problematical, whereas their disadvantages, and especially the atrocities that have followed in their train, are as clear as the light of day.
[tr. Payne (1974)]

 
Added on 11-Apr-14 | Last updated 26-Oct-22
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On the dogmas of religion as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarrelling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Were I to enter on that arena, I should only add an unit to the number of Bedlamites.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Matthew Carey (11 Nov 1816)
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Mistakenly identified in some sources as Archibald Carey.
 
Added on 22-Aug-13 | Last updated 14-Jul-22
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Another purpose of the Establishment Clause rested upon an awareness of the historical fact that governmentally established religions and religious persecutions go hand in hand. The Founders knew that only a few years after the Book of Common Prayer became the only accepted form of religious services in the established Church of England, an Act of Uniformity was passed to compel all Englishmen to attend those services and to make it a criminal offense to conduct or attend religious gatherings of any other kind — a law which was consistently flouted by dissenting religious groups in England and which contributed to widespread persecutions of people like John Bunyan who persisted in holding “unlawful [religious] meetings … to the great disturbance and distraction of the good subjects of this kingdom ….” And they knew that similar persecutions had received the sanction of law in several of the colonies in this country soon after the establishment of official religions in those colonies. It was in large part to get completely away from this sort of systematic religious persecution that the Founders brought into being our Nation, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights with its prohibition against any governmental establishment of religion.

Hugo Black (1886-1971) American politician and jurist, US Supreme Court Justice (1937-71)
Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421, 424-425 (1962) [majority opinion]
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Added on 24-Oct-12 | Last updated 13-Oct-22
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True Christianity never shields itself behind majorities. Nero, and the other persecuting Roman emperors, were amply supported by majorities; and yet the pure and peaceable religion of Christ in the end triumphed over them all; and it was only when it attempted itself to enforce religion by the arm of authority, that it began to wane. A form of religion that can not live under equal and impartial laws ought to die, and sooner or later must die.

John Welch (1805-1891) American politician, jurist
Board of Education of Cincinnati v. Minor, Ohio Supreme Court (1872)
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Added on 21-Jun-11 | Last updated 4-Sep-18
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True Christianity asks no aid from the sword of civil authority.  It began without the sword, and wherever it has taken the sword it has perished by the sword. To depend on civil authority for its enforcement is to acknowledge its own weakness, which it can never afford to do.  It is able to fight its own battles.  Its weapons are moral and spiritual, and not carnal. Armed with these, and these alone, it is not afraid or “ashamed” to be compared with other religions, and to withstand them single-handed.

John Welch (1805-1891) American politician, jurist
Board of Education of Cincinnati v. Minor, Ohio Supreme Court (1872)
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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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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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It is clear that the most elementary condition, if thought is to be free, is the absence of legal penalties for the expression of opinions. No great country has yet reached to this level, although most of them think they have. The opinions which are still persecuted strike the majority as so monstrous and immoral that the general principle of toleration can not be held to apply to them. But this is exactly the same view as that which made possible the tortures of the Inquisition. There was a time when Protestantism seemed as wicked as Bolshevism seems now.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“Free Thought and Official Propaganda,” lecture, South Place Institute, London (1922-03-24)
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A good End cannot sanctifie evil Means; nor must we ever do Evil, that Good may come of it. Some Folks think they may Scold, Rail, Hate, Rob and Kill too; so it be but for God’s sake. But nothing in us unlike him, can please him.

William Penn (1644-1718) English writer, philosopher, politician, statesman
Fruits of Solitude, #537-539 (1682)
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Added on 26-Nov-07 | Last updated 15-May-23
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Burning stakes do not lighten the darkness.

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
Unkempt Thoughts [Myśli nieuczesane] (1957) [tr. Gałązka (1962)]
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Added on 26-Jul-07 | Last updated 29-Mar-22
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Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded
That all the Apostles would have done as they did.

Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
Don Juan, Canto 1, st. 83 (1824)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-23
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Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but — live for it.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer, aphorist
Lacon: Or, Many Things in Few Words, Vol. 1, § 25 (1820)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Nov-23
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