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Dyshade
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Our Forefathers Views Of Christianity!!

What follows are direct quotes from the founding Fathers of the United States Government...... I post this to argue the point that the United States was never meant to be a Christian Country...... it was meant to be a country free of the bonds of slavery of both mind and body......

John Adams--- Second President of the US and signer of the Declaration Of Independence---

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere
in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths,
Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in
Christianity."
[John Adams]
-------
"The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature
shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings
shall rule it by fictitious miracles?"
[John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation.
But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been
blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the
most bloody religion that ever existed?"
[John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816]
-------
"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of
the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross.
Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"
[John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era?
Where are fifty gospels, condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius?
Where are the forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by
order of another pope, because suspected of heresy? Remember the 'index
expurgatorius', the inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter and the
guillotine."
[John Adams, letter to John Taylor]
-------
"The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning.
And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or
dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate,
the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently
endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth
in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof,
and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm
about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes."
[John Adams, letter to John Taylor]
-------
"God has infinite wisdom, goodness and power; he created the universe; his
duration is eternal, a parte ante and a parte post. His presence is as
extensive as space. What is space? An infinite spherical vacuum. He created
this speck of dirt and the human species for his glory; and with deliberate
design of making nine-tenths of our species miserable for ever for his glory.
This is the doctrine of Christian theologians, in general, ten to one. Now, my
friend, can prophecies or miracles convince you or me that infinite
benevolence, wisdom, and power, created, and preserves for a time innumerable
millions, to make them miserable forever, for his own glory? Wretch! What is
his glory? Is he ambitious? Does he want promotion? Is he vain, tickled with
adulation, exulting and triumphing in his power and the sweetness of his
vengeance? Pardon me, my Maker, for these awful questions. My answer to them
is always ready. _I believe no such things_. My adoration of the author of the
universe is too profound and too sincere. The love of God and his
creation-delight, joy, triumph, exultation in my own existance- though but an
atom, a molecule organique in the universe- are my religion".
[John Adams, in a latter to Jefferson, Sept. 14, 1813, from
"Christianity and the Constitution: The Founding faith of our Fathers"
John Eidsmoe ISBN: 0-8010-3444-2]
-------
TREATY OF PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP
BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND THE BEY AND SUBJECTS
OF TRIPOLI OF BARBARY
8 Stat. 154, Treaty Series 358

Treaty signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796, and at Algiers January 3, 1797.
Senate advice and consent to ratification June 7, 1797.
Ratified by the President of the United States June 10, 1797
Entered into force June 10, 1797
Proclaimed by the President of the United States June 10, 1797.

ARTICLE 11

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded
on the Christian Religion, -- as it has in itself no character of enmity
against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-- and as the said
States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any
Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from
religous opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony
existing between the two countries."
[John Adams, 1797-05-27, Article 11, Treaty of Peace and Friendship
between the US and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary.
Treaties and Other International Acts of America, ed. Hunter Miller]
-------
"This is my religion . . . joy and exaltation in my own existence . . . so
go ahead and snarl . . . bite . . . howl, you Calvinistic divines and all
you who say I am no Christian. I say you are not Christian."
[John Adams, in _Toward the Mystery_]
-------
"[In regard to the Trinity]; "Tom, had you and I been 40 days with Moses,
and beheld the great God, and even if God himself had tried to tell us
that three was one . . . and one equals three, you and I would never
have believed it. We would never fall victims to such lies."
[John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"Indeed, Mr. Jefferson, what could be invented to debase the ancient
Christianism, which Greeks, Romans, Hebrews and Christian factions, above
all the Catholics, have not fraudulently imposed upon the public? Miracles
after miracles have rolled down in torrents, wave succeeding wave in the
Catholic church, from the Council of Nicea, and long before, to this day."
[John Adams, to Jefferson, 3 December 1813]
-------
"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of
governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now
sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture,
hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their
history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is
at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may
hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any
persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any
degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or
houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be
acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of
reason and the senses...."
[John Adams, "A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the
United States of America" [1787-1788]; from Adrienne Koch, ed.,
The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment
and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 258]
-------
"Nothing is more dreaded than the national
government meddling with religion."
[John Adams]
""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
My personal favorite

Thomas Jefferson-- If you know not who and what he was please go shoot yourself now

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"...difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects
perform the office of a common censor 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 an 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 Jeffersion, "Notes on the State of Virginia [1781-1785]"
also George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New
Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363.]
-------
"Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us
restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which
liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect
that having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which
mankind so long bled, we have yet gained little if we countenance a
political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of a bitter and
bloody persecutions."
[Thomas Jefferson, "First Inaugural Address," March 4, 1801.
From Mortimer Adler, ed., The Annals of America: 1797-1820,
Domestic Expansion and Foreign Entanglements, Vol.4;
Chicago: Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1968, pp. 144]
-------
"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"...let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which
error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it".
[Thomas Jefferson, 1st inaugural address, March 4, 1801]
-------
"They [preachers] dread the advance of science as witches do the approach
of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions
of the duperies on which they live."
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world,
and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming
feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Woods]
-------
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American
people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting
an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,'
thus building a wall of separation between church and State."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association]
-------
"... I am not afraid of priests. They have tried upon me all their various
batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering. I
have contemplated their order from the Magi of the East to the Saints of the
West and I have found no difference of character, but of more or less
caution, in proportion to their information or ignorance on whom their
interested duperies were to be played off. Their sway in New England is
indeed formidable. No mind beyond mediocrity dares there to develop itself."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio Spofford, 1816]
-------
"Do not be frightened from this enquiry by any fear of its consequences.
If it ends in a belief that there is no god, you will find incitements to
virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its' exercise, and the
love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe
that there is a god, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, and
that he approves of you, will be a vast additional incitement."
[Thomas Jefferson, on advising a nephew on
a critical examination of the Bible]
-------
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious
to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty
gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
[Thomas Jefferson, speech to Virginia House of Delegates,
November, 1776 (Notes on the State of Virginia Query XVII.)
from Merrill D. Peterson, "Jefferson and Religious Freedom",
The Atlantic Monthly 12/94. Also- Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith
of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco:
Harper & Row, 1987, pp. 42-43]
-------
"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.
He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return
for protection of his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by
this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have
perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and
jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine
for their purpose."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Horatio Spofford, March 17, 1814;
from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations,
Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 371]
-------
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man
and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship,
that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not
opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole
American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT.
"The Complete Jefferson" by Saul K. Padover, pp 518-519]
-------
"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are
servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal
for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of
a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason
than that of blindfolded fear."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787]
-------
"Read the Bible as you would Livy or Tacitus. For example, in the book of
Joshua we are told the sun stood still for several hours. Were we to read
that fact in Livy or Tacitus we should class it with their showers of
blood, speaking of their statues, beasts, etc. But it is said that the
writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what
evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled
to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are
astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature"
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr,
Aug. 10, 1787, in Works, Vol.ii., p. 217]
-------
"It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in
the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that
the one is not three, and the three are not one. But this constitutes the
craft, the power and the profit of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer
fabrics of fictitious religion, and they would catch no more flies"
[Thomas Jefferson, to John Adams, Aug. 22, 1813
Jefferson s Works, Vol. IV, p. 205, Randolph's ed.]
-------
"The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect
the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate,
which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law
that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but
not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills.

But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the
Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who
professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for
enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1810]
-------
"History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people
maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade
of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders
will always avail themselves for their own purpose."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Baron von Humboldt, 1813;
from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations,
Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 370]
-------
"On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles,
all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been
quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for
abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and
absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Carey, 1816]
-------
"But the greatest of all reformers of the depraved religion of his own
country, was Jesus of Nazareth. Abstracting what is really his from the
rubbish in which it is buried, easily distinguished by its lustre from
the dross of his biographers, and as separable from that as the diamond
from the dunghill, we have the outlines of a system of the most sublime
morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man. The establishment
of the innocent and genuine character of this benevolent morality, and the
rescuing it from the imputation of imposture, which has resulted from
artificial systems, invented by ultra-Christian sects (The immaculate
conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him,
his miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his corporeal
presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity; original sin, atonement, regeneration,
election, orders of the Hierarchy, etc.) is a most desirable object."
[Thomas Jefferson, to W. Short, Oct. 31, 1819]
-------
"It is not to be understood that I am with him (Jesus Christ) in all his
doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he
preaches the efficacy of repentence toward forgiveness of sin; I require
a counterpoise of good works to redeem it.

Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him by his biographers, I find
many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely
benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so
much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that
such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I separate,
therefore, the gold from the dross; restore him to the former, and leave the
latter to the stupidity of some, the roguery of others of his disciples. Of
this band of dupes and imposters, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and the
first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus."
[Thomas Jefferson, to William Short, April 13, 1820]
-------
"The office of reformer of the superstitions of a nation, is ever more
dangerous. Jesus had to work on the perilous confines of reason and
religion; and a step to the right or left might place him within the
grasp of the priests of the superstition, a bloodthirsty race, as cruel
and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of
Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. That Jesus
did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically
speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than
myself in that lore."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Story, Aug. 4, 1820]
-------
"All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor
shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution"
[Thomas Jefferson, 1776, from Thomas Jefferson: A Reference
Biography, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986.]
-------
"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship
or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions
or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain,
their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise...
affect their civil capacities."
[Thomas Jefferson, 1777 draft Bill for
Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia]
-------
"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of
opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical."
[Thomas Jefferson: Virginia Statute for
Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 1:545]
-------
"The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.
But compare with these the demoralizing dogmas of Calvin:
1. That there are three Gods.
2. That good works, or the love of our neighbor, is nothing.
3. That faith is every thing, and the more incomprehensible
the proposition, the more merit the faith.
4. That reason in religion is of unlawful use.
5. That God, from the beginning, elected certain individuals
to be saved, and certain others to be damned; and that no crimes
of the former can damn them; no virtues of the latter save."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822]z
-------
"Creeds have been the bane of the Christian church
... made of Christendom a slaughter-house."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822]
-------
"Christian creeds and doctrines, the clergy's own fatal inventions,
through all the ages has made of Christendom a slaughterhouse, and
divided it into sects of inextinguishable hatred for one another."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Whittemore, June 5, 1822]
-------
"The truth is, that the greatest enemies of the doctrine of Jesus are those,
calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them to the
structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any
foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical
generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his Father, in the womb of a
virgin will be classified with the fable of the generation of Minerva in
the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom
of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial
scaffolding and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this
most venerated Reformer of human errors."
[Thomas Jefferson, to John Adams, Apr. 11, 1823
Jefferson's Works, Vol. IV, p. 365, Randolph's ed.,
quoted by E. S. Gaustad, "Religion," in Merrill D.
Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography,
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986, p. 287.]
-------
"The metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and
of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere lapses into polytheism,
differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Jared Sparks, 1820]
-------
"..our civil rights have no dependance on our religious
opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry"
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"It is error alone which needs the support of
government. Truth can stand by itself."
[Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782;
from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations,
Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363]
-------
"...If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that is
pleasing to him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to
say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same evidence of
the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations,
and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally
that while in Protestant countries the defections from the Platonic
Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to
Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, Condorcet are known to have been
among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some
other foundation than love of God."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814;
From Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The
Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society,
New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 358.]
-------
"He is less remote from the truth who believes
nothing, than he who believes what is wrong."
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the
Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines,
discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no
law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion,
but from that also which reserves to the States the powers not delegated to
the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise,
or to asssume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the
General Government. It must then rest with the States, as far as it can be
in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not
prescribe a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly
assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises, which the
Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant, too, that
this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by
some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and imprisonment,
but of some degree of proscription, perhaps in public opinion. And does the
change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation less a law of
conduct for those to whom it is directed? I do not believe it is in the best
interests of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises,
its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies, that the
General Government should be invested with the power of effecting any
uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious
exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society
has a right to determine for itself the times of these exercises, and the
objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this
right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the Constitution has
deposited it."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Miller, a Presbyterian minister,
January 23, 1808. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Bergh, ed.
(Washington, DC: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904),
Vol. XI, p.428. Also, Willson Whitman, arranger, Jefferson's Letters,
Eau Claire, Wisconsin: E. M. Hale and Company, ND, pp. 241-242]
-------
"I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring
about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799.
From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of
American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 499.]
-------
"A professorship of Theology should have no place in
our institution [the University of Virginia]."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper, October 7, 1814.
From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book
of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 492.]
-------
"I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any
party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in
anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an
addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could
not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all."
[Thomas Jefferson, Letter To Francis Hopkinson, Paris Mar. 13, 1789]
-------
"To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the
general mind must be strengthened by education."
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to
a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of
reason & right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in
the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that
it's protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble
declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of
our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that
it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of
our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that
they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and
the Gentile, the Christian and Mohametan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every
denomination."
[Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia
Act for Religious Freedom"; from George Seldes, ed., The Great
Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363]
-------
" Sir,- I have duly received your favor of the 18th and am thankful to you for
having written it, because it is more agreeable to prevent than to refuse what
I do not think myself authorized to comply with. I consider the government of
the U.S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious
institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not
only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment,
or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states
the powers not delegated to the U.S. Certainly no power to prescribe any
religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been
delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as
far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I
should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I
should indirectly assume to the U.S. an authority over religious exercises
which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant too
that this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by
some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine or imprisonment,
but of some degree of proscription perhaps in public opinion. And does the
change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation the less a law of
conduct for those to whom it is directed? I do not believe it is for the
interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it's exercises,
it's discipline, or it's doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the
general government should be invested with the power of effecting any
uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious
exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society
has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, and the
objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this
right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has
deposited it.

I am aware that the practice of my predecessors may be quoted. But I have
ever believed that the example of state executives led to the assumption of
the authority by the general government, without due examination, which would
have discovered that what might be right in a state government, was a
violation of the right when assumed by another. Be this as it may, every one
must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me the
civil powers alone have been given to the President of the U.S. and no
authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.

I again express my satisfaction that you have been so good as to give me an
opportunity of explaining myself in a private letter, in which I could give my
reasons more in detail than might have been done in a public answer; and I
pray you to accept the assurances of my high esteem and respect."
[Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Rev. Samuel Miller
Washington Jan 23 1808]
-------
"The Christian god can be easily pictured as virtually the same as the many
ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed
monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this
raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber
of the people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes:
fools and hypocrites."
[Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr]
-------
"A lively and lasting sense of filial duty is more effectually
impressed on the mind of a son or daughter by reading King Lear, than
by all the dry volumes of ethics, and divinity, that ever were written."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Robert Skipwith, August 3, 1771]
-------
"The Christian God is a being of terrific character --
cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust."
[Thomas Jefferson, _Jefferson Bible_]
-------
"We discover [in the gospels] a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of
things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication."
[Thomas Jefferson, _Jefferson Bible_]
-------
"It is between fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse,
and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac."
[Thomas Jefferson, _Jefferson Bible_]
-------
"On the basis of sensation, of matter and motion, we may erect the fabric of
all the certainties we can have or need. I can conceive thought to be an
action of a particular organisation of matter, formed for that purpose by
it's creator, as well as that attraction in an action of matter, or
magnetism of lodestone. When he who denies to the Creator the power of
endowing matter with the mode of action called thinking shall shew how he
could endow the Sun with the mode of action called attraction, which reins
the planets in the tract of their orbits, or how an absence of matter can
have a will, and by that will, put matter into motion, then the materialist
may be lawfully required to explain the process by which matter exercises
the faculty of thinking. When once we quit the basis of sensation, all is
in the wind. To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To
say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial, is to say they are
nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason
otherwise. But I believe that I am supported in my creed of Materialism by
the Lockes, the Tracys, and the Stewarts."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, August 15, 1820]
-------
"If we believe that he [Jesus Christ] really countenanced the follies, the
falsehoods, and the charlatanisms, which his biographers [writers of the
New Testament] father upon him, and admit the misconstructions,
interpolations, and theorizations of the fathers of the early and the
fanatics of the latter ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by
every sound mind that he was an impostor."
[Thomas Jefferson, _Jefferson Bible_, quoted by Joseph Lewis]
-------
"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."
[Thomas Jefferson, in _Toward the Mystery_]
-------
"The authors of the gospels were unlettered and ignorant men and the
teachings of Jesus have come to us mutilated, misstated and unintelligible."
[Thomas Jefferson, in _Toward The Mystery_]
-------
"If the obstacles of bigotry and priestcraft can be surmounted,
we may hope that common sense will suffice to do everything else."
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions more than our
opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen
as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being
called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges
and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural
right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it
is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and
emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though
indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither
are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil
magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain
the profession or propagation of principles, on supposition of their ill
tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious
liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his
opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of
others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is
time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers
to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good
order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself,
that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to
fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural
weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is
permitted freely to contradict them."
[Jefferson and Madison, from the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom]
-------
[laws establishing freedom of religion]..."were meant to include within
them the Muslim, the Hindoo [sic], and the infidel of any sort."
[Thomas Jefferson in a letter to his nephew, Dethloff, Henry C., ed. Thomas
Jefferson and American Democracy. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Co. 1971]
-------
"The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful
that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have
been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to
them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what
parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence
that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other
parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate
those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills."
[Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814]
-------
"There is not a truth existing which I fear...
or would wish unknown to the whole world."
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will
be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for
I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form
of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from
me: and enough, too, in their opinion."
[Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, 1800]
-------
"If we could believe that [Jesus]...countenanced the follies,
falsehoods and charlatanisms which his biographers father on him,
...the conclusion would be irresistible...that he was an imposter."
[Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
3rd president of the U.S.]
-------
"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 its indistinctness, admit everlasting
controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit,
power and 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, letter to John Adams, July 5, 1814]
-------
"I was glad to find in your book a formal contradiction at length of the
judiciary usurpation of legislative powers; for such the judges have
usurped in their repeated decisions, that Christianity is a part of
the common law. The proof of the contrary which you have adduced is
incontrovertible; to wit, that the common law existed while the Anglo-
Saxons were yet Pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name
of Christ pronounced, or knew that such a character had ever existed."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Major John Cartwright. Works,
Vol. iv., pp. 397. He then goes to explain precisely an
original misquote which led to this historic mistake.]
-------
"For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by
the Saxons on their settlement in England, and altered from time to time by
proper legislative authority from that time to the date of Magna Charta, which
terminates the period of the common law, or lex non scripta, and commences
that of the statue law, or Lex Scripta. This settlement took place about
the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the
seventh century; the conversion of the first christian king of the Heptarchy
having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here,
then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in
existence, and Christianity no part of it."
[Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Thomas Cooper (Feb.10, 1814)]
-------
"... our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity,
continue to approve the choice we made. May it be to the world, what I believe
it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the
signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and
superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings
and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores
the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All
eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the
light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that
the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a
favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace
of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual
return of this day [Fourth of July] forever refresh our recollections of these
rights, and an undiminished devotion to them."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826,
declining an invitation to the 50th anniversary celebration of
the Declaration of Independence, July 4 1826; this was Jefferson's
last letter, dated ten days before he died; from Adrienne Koch, ed.,
The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment
and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 372.]
-------
"The Athanasian paradox that one is three and three but one, is so
incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has
any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who
thinks he does, only deceives himself He proves, also, that man, once
surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities
the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of
every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith,
takes the helm of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Smith]
-------
"In our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the
women. They have their night meetings and praying parties, where,
attended by their priests, and sometimes by a henpecked husband, they
pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus in terms as amatory
and carnal as their modesty would permit to a merely earthly lover."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Cooper,
Works, Vol. iv., p. 358, Randolph's ed.]
-------
"I join you, therefore, in sincere congratulations that this den of
the priesthood is at length broken up, and that a Protestant Popedom
is no longer to disgrace the American history and character."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams regarding
disestablisment in New England (Works, Vol. iv., p. 301)]
-------
"The Presbyterian clergy are the loudest, the most intolerant of all
sects; the most tyrannical and ambitious, ready at the word of the
law-giver, if such a word could now be obtained, to put their torch to
the pile, and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere the flame in which
their oracle, Calvin, consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not
subscribe to the proposition of Calvin, that magistrates have a right
to exterminate all heretics to the Calvinistic creed!

They pant to re-establish by law that holy inquisition which they can
now only infuse into public opinion"
[Thomas Jefferson, Works, Vol.iv.,p.322]
-------
"But every state, says an inquisitor, has established some religion.
No two, say I, have established the same. Is this a proof of the
infallibility of establishments?"
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"I know it will give great offense to the clergy, but the advocate of
religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them."
[Thomas Jefferson, to Levi Lincoln, 1802. ME 10:305
referring to reaction over his administration in which
absolutely no religious proclamations were issued.]
-------
"Reading, reflection and time have convinced me that the interests of society
require the observation of those moral precepts only in which all religions
agree (for all forbid us to steal, murder, 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."
[Thomas Jefferson to James Fishback, 1809]
-------
"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."
[Thomas Jefferson, February 10, 1814]
-------
The State of Virginia (act of assembly of 1705, c. 30) provided that
"...if a person brought up in the Christian religion denies the being of
a God, or the Trinity, or asserts that there are more Gods than one, or
denies the Christian religion to be true, or the scriptures to be of
divine authority, he is punishable on the first offense by incapacity to
hold any office or employment ecclesiastical, civil or military; on the
second by disability to sue, to take any gift or legacy, to be guardian,
executor, or administrator and by three years imprisonment, without bail.
A father's right to the custody of his own children being founded in law
on his right of guardianship, this being taken away, they may of course
be severed from him, and put, by the authority of a court, into more
orthodox hands."
[Thomas Jefferson, "Notes on the State of Virginia,
from _Thomas Jefferson: Writings_, pg. 284-285]
-------
"The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted
into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine
against the civil and religious rights of man."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Jeremiah Moor, 1800; as quoted
by Saul K. Padover in Thomas Jefferson on Democracy, New York,
1946, p. 165, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr,
compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long
Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 48.]
-------
"I can never join Calvin in adressing his god. He was indeed an Atheist,
which I can never be; or rather his religion was Daemonism. If ever man
worshipped a false god, he did. The being described in his 5. points is
not the God whom you and I acknolege and adore, the Creator and benevolent
governor of the world; but a daemon of malignant spirit. It would be more
pardonable to believe in no god at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious
attributes of Calvin. Indeed I think that every Christian sect gives a great
handle to Atheism by their general dogma that, without a revelation, there
would not be sufficient proof of the being of a god."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823]
-------
"Because religious belief or non-belief is such an important part of every
person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches
that use government power to support themselves and force their views on
persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state
support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and
leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between
church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society."
["Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government",
Section 46: Freedom of Religion]
-------
"...merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy, nor capable
of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams."
[Thomas Jefferson, on the Revelations in the Bible,
from Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, New
York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986.]
-------
"I rarely waste time in reading theological subjects... Ridicule is the only
weapon that can be used against such unintelligible propositions. Ideas must
be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct
idea of the trinity. It is mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling
themselves the priests of Jesus. If it could be understood it would not answer
their purpose. Their security is in their faculty of shedding darkness, like
the scuttle-fish, thro' the element in which they move, and making it
impenetrable to the eye of a pursuing enemy, and there they will sulk."
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"The declaration that religious faith shall be unpunished, does
not give impunity to criminal acts, dictated by religious error."
[Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1788. ME 7:98]
-------
"I never told my religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never
attempted to make a convert nor wished to change another's creed.
I have judged of others' religion by their lives, for it is from
our lives and not from our words that our religion must be read.
By the same test must the world judge me."
[Thomas Jefferson]
-------
"We have solved...the great and interesting question whether freedom
of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to
the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort
which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly
those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own
reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries."
[Thomas Jefferson to Virginia Baptists, 1808]
-------
"Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that... of liberty to
worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will;
a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government
and yet proved by our experience to be its best support."
[Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Baptist Address, 1807]
-------
"From the dissensions among Sects themselves arise necessarily a right of
choosing and necessity of deliberating to which we will conform. But if
we choose for ourselves, we must allow others to choose also, and so
reciprocally, this establishes religious liberty."
[Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers, 1:545]
-------
"The rights [to religious freedom] are of the natural rights of mankind,
and... if any act shall be... passed to repeal [an act granting those
rights] or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of
natural right."
[Thomas Jefferson: Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 2:546]
-------
"Religion is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved.
I have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker in which
no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle."
[Thomas Jefferson to Richard Rush, 1813]
-------
"In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed
by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general government.
I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious
exercises suited to it; but have left them as the Constitution found
them, under the direction and discipline of State or Church authorities
acknowledged by the several religious societies."
[Thomas Jefferson: 2nd Inaugural Address, 1805]
-------
"Our Constitution... has not left the religion of its citizens under the
power of its public functionaries, were it possible that any of these
should consider a conquest over the conscience of men either attainable
or applicable to any desirable purpose."
[Thomas Jefferson: Reply to New London Methodists, 1809]
-------
"To suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of
their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious
liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his
opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others
only as they shall square with or differ from his own."
[Thomas Jefferson: Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 2:546]
-------
"Our particular principles of religion are
a subject of accountability to God alone."
[Thomas Jefferson to Miles King, 1814]
-------
"[If] the nature of... government [were] a subordination of the civil to the
ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to
come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and
they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the]
clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of
liberty only by the help of a tow-rope."
[Thomas Jefferson to Pierrepont Edwards, July 1801]
-------
"This doctrine ['that the condition of man cannot be ameliorated, that what
has been must ever be, and that to secure ourselves where we are we must
tread with awful reverence in the footsteps of our fathers'] is the genuine
fruit of the alliance between Church and State, the tenants of which finding
themselves but too well in their present condition, oppose all advances which
might unmask their usurpations and monopolies of honors, wealth and power,
and fear every change as endangering the comforts they now hold."
[Thomas Jefferson: Report for University of Virginia, 1818]
-------
"I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to
bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another."
[Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799]
-------
"The law for religious freedom... [has] put down the aristocracy of
the clergy and restored to the citizen the freedom of the mind."
[Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1813]
-------
"No man [should] be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship,
place, or ministry whatsoever, nor [should he] be enforced, restrained,
molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor... otherwise suffer on account
of his religious opinions or belief... All men [should] be free to profess
and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and ...the
same [should] in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."
[Thomas Jefferson: Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 1:546]
-------
"We have no right to prejudice another in his civil
enjoyments because he is of another church."
[Thomas Jefferson: Notes on
Religion, 1782. Papers, 1:546]
-------
"No man complains of his neighbor for ill management of his affairs,
for an error in sowing his land, or marrying his daughter, for
consuming his substance in taverns ... in all these he has liberty;
but if he does not frequent the church, or then conform in ceremonies,
there is an immediate uproar."
[Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed.,
The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 364]
-------
"If a sect arises whose tenets would subvert morals, good sense has
fair play and reasons and laughs it out of doors without suffering
the State to be troubled with it."
[Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782]
-------
"The declaration that religious faith shall be unpunished does
not give immunity to criminal acts dictated by religious error."
[Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1788]
-------
"If anything pass in a religious meeting seditiously and contrary
to the public peace, let it be punished in the same manner and no
otherwise than as if it had happened in a fair or market."
[Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers, 1:548]
-------
"Whatsoever is lawful in the Commonwealth or permitted to the subject in the
ordinary way cannot be forbidden to him for religious uses; and whatsoever
is prejudicial to the Commonwealth in their ordinary uses and, therefore,
prohibited by the laws, ought not to be permitted to churches in their sacred
rites. For instance, it is unlawful in the ordinary course of things or in a
private house to murder a child; it should not be permitted any sect then to
sacrifice children. It is ordinarily lawful (or temporarily lawful) to kill
calves or lambs; they may, therefore, be religiously sacrificed. But if the
good of the State required a temporary suspension of killing lambs, as during
a siege, sacrifices of them may then be rightfully suspended also. This is
the true extent of toleration."
[Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers, 1:547]
-------
"The constitutional freedom of religion [is] the
most inalienable and sacred of all human rights."
[Thomas Jefferson, 'Virginia Board
of Visitors Minutes,' 1819]
-------
"I have never conceived that having been in public life required me to
belie my sentiments, or to conceal them. Opinion and the just maintenance
of it shall never be a crime in my view, nor bring injury on the individual.
I never will by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance. I never
had an opinion in politics or religion which I was afraid to own; a reserve
on these subjects might have procured me more esteem from some people, but
less from myself.
[Thomas Jefferson quoted by Joseph Lewis]
-------
"I will never, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance,
or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803.
From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper
Book of American Quotations,New York: Harper & Row,1988,pg 499]
-------
"I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover
health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment;
but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor."
[Thomas Jefferson, notes for a speech, c. 1776. From Gorton
Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American
Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 498.]
-------
"Our [Virginia's] act for freedom of religion is extremely applauded. The
Ambassadors and ministers of the several nations of Europe resident at this
court have asked me copies of it to send to their sovereigns, and it is
inserted at full length in several books now in the press; among others,
in the new Encyclopedie. I think it will produce considerable good even in
those countries where ignorance, superstition, poverty and oppression of
body and mind in every form, are so firmly settled on the mass of the
people, that their redemption from them can never be hoped."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Wythe from Paris,
Aug. 13, 1786. From Adrienne Koch, ed., The American
Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and
a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 311]
-------
"The Virginia act for religious freedom has been received with infinite
approbation in Europe, and propagated with enthusiasm. I do not mean by
governments, but by the individuals who compose them. It has been translated
into French and Italian; has been sent to most of the courts of Europe,
and has been the best evidence of the falsehood of those reports which
stated us to be in anarchy. It is inserted in the new "Encyclopédie," and
is appearing in most of the publications respecting America. In fact, it
is comfortable to see the standard of reason at length erected, after so
many ages, during which the human mind has been held in vassalage by kings,
priests, and nobles; and it is honorable for us, to have produced the first
legislature who had the courage to declare, that the reason of man may be
trusted with the formation of his own opinions...."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison from Paris,
Dec. 16, 1786. From Lloyd S. Kramer, ed., Paine and
Jefferson on Liberty, New York: Continuum, 1988, pp. 87-88]
-------
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold,
and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for
our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to
be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman,
simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read,
and what we must disbelieve?"
[Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia
bookseller, 1814, on the occasion of prosecution for selling
De Becourt's "Sur le Création du Monde, un Système d'Organisation
Primitive"; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations,
Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 371]
-------
"I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a
fact like this can become a subject to inquiry, and of criminal inquiry,
too, as an offence against religion; that a question about the sale of a
book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom
of religion?"
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to N. G. Dufief, April 19, 1814.
From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book
of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 492]
-------
"If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can
ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public
opinion, [then and only then will truth] prevail over fanaticism."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Jared Sparks, 4 November 1820.
as quoted by Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion
and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 49.]
-------
"I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives.... It is in our
lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same
test the world must judge me. But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They
must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities.
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 the purest
of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power,
revolt those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what
is really there."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mrs. M. Harrison Smith, August 6, 1816.
From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of
American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 492.]
-------
"Life is of no value but as it brings us gratifications. Among the
most valuable of these is rational society. It informs the mind,
sweetens the temper, cheers our spirits, and promotes health."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, February 20, 1784.
From Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The
Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society,
New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 305]
-------
"It is surely time for men to think for themselves, and to
throw off the authority of names so artificially magnified."
[Thomas Jefferson: Letter to William Short, August 4, 1820]
-------
"The hocus-pocus phantasy of a God, like another Cerberus, with
one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood
of thousands and thousands of martyrs."
[Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson s Works, Vol. IV, 360, Randolph's ed.]
-------
"If anybody thinks that kings, nobles, or priests are good conservators
of the public happiness send them here [Europe]. It is the best school
in the universe to cure them of that folly. They will see here with their
own eyes that these descriptions of men are an abandoned confederacy
against the happiness of the mass of people. The omnipotence of their
effect cannot be better proved than in this country [France] particularly,
where notwithstanding the finest soil upon earth, the finest climate under
heaven, and a people of the most benevolent, the most gay and amiable
character of which the human form is susceptible, where such a people I
say, surrounded by so many blessings from nature, are yet loaded with
misery by kings, nobles and priests, and by them alone."
[Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe]
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James Madison---- Our Fourth President---

"Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions more than our
opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen
as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being
called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges
and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural
right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it
is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and
emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though
indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither
are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil
magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain
the profession or propagation of principles, on supposition of their ill
tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious
liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his
opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of
others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is
time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers
to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good
order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself,
that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to
fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural
weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is
permitted freely to contradict them."
[Jefferson and Madison, from the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom]
-------
"Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in
favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some
parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old
error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov' & Religion
neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition,
and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot
be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov' of opinion, like ours, the only
effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general
opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect
separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I
have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done,
in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less
they are mixed together;"
[James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822,
"The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]
-------
"An alliance or coalition between Government and religion cannot be too
carefully guarded against......Every new and successful example therefore
of a PERFECT SEPARATION between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of
importance........religion and government will exist in greater purity,
without (rather) than with the aid of government."
[James Madison in a letter to Livingston, 1822, from Leonard W. Levy-
The Establishment Clause, Religion and the First Amendment,pg 124]
-------
"It was the belief of all sects at one time that the establishment of Religion
by law, was right & necessary; that the true religion ought to be established
in exclusion of every other; and that the only question to be decided was
which was the true religion. The example of Holland proved that a toleration
of sects, dissenting from the established sect, was safe & even useful. The
example of the Colonies, now States, which rejected religious establishments
altogether, proved that all Sects might be safely & advantageously put on a
footing of equal & entire freedom.... We are teaching the world the great
truth that Govts do better without Kings & Nobles than with them. The merit
will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion flourishes in greater
purity, without than with the aid of Gov."
[James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822,
"The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]
-------
"[i]t may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of
separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority
with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential
points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to
a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded
agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfence in any way
whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and
protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others."
[James Madison, in a letter to Rev Jasper Adams spring
1832, from "James Madison on Religious Liberty", edited
by Robert S. Alley, ISBN 0-8975-298-X. pp. 237-238]
-------
"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society?
In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the
ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding
the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians
of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty
may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just
government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."
[Pres. James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance", addressed
to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]
-------
"Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of
maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary
operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment
of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less,
in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility
in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."
[James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance", addressed to
the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]
-------
"It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the last, that Civil
Government could not stand without the prop of a religious establishment; and
that the Christian religion itself, would perish if not supported by the
legal provision for its clergy. The experience of Virginia conspiciously
corroboates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Government, tho'
bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite
stability and performs its functions with complete success; whilst the number,
the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the
people have been manifestly increased by the TOTAL SEPARATION OF THE CHURCH
FROM THE STATE."
[James Madison, as quoted in Robert L. Maddox: Separation
of Church and State; Guarantor of Religious Freeedom]
-------
"Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and observe
the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny equal
freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has
convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offense against God, not
against man:To God, therefore, not to man, must an account of it be rendered."
[James Madison, according to Leonard W. Levy, Treason Against God: A History
of the Offense of Blasphemy, New York: Schocken Books, 1981, p. xii.]
-------
"The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and
the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the
total separation of the church from the state."
[James Madison, 1819, in Boston, _Why The Religious Right
is Wrong about the Separation of Church and State_]
-------
"The Civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated
hierarchy, posesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions
with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality
of the priesthood, and devotion of the people, have been manifestly
increased by the total separation of the church from the state."
[James Madison in a letter to Robert Walsh, March 2, 1819]
-------
"Strongly guarded... is the separation between religion
and government in the Constitution of the United States."
[James Madison]
-------
"Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in
the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by
Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already
furnished in their short history."
[James Madison,"Detached Memoranda", 1820]

(This short history being referred to was attempts where religious
bodies had already tried to encroach on the government.)
-------
"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity,
in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any
particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?"
[James Madison]
-------
"(15) Because finally, the equal right of every citizen to the free exercise
of his religion according to the dictates of conscience is held by the same
tenure with all our other rights. If we recur to its origin, it is equally
the gift of nature; if we weigh its importance, it cannot be less dear to us;
if we consult the Declaration of Rights which pertain to the good people of
Virginia, as the basic and foundation of government, it is enumerated with
equal solemnity, or rather studied emphasis."
[James Madison, Section 15 of A Memorial and Remonstrance, June 20,
1785, frequently misquoted to imply religion as the basis of gov't]
-------
"We hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth "that religion, or the duty
which we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed
only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence." The religion, then,
of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and
that it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate."
[James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance to the Assemby of Virginia]
-------
"...several of the first presidents, including Jefferson and Madison,
generally refused to issue public prayers, despite importunings to do
so. Under pressure, Madison relented in the War Of 1812, but held to
his belief that chaplains shouldn't be appointed to the military or be
allowed to open Congress."
[Richard Shenkman, "I Love Paul Revere, Whether He Rode Or Not"]
-------
"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits
it for every noble enterprize [sic], every expanded prospect."
[James Madison, in a letter to William Bradford, April 1,1774,
as quoted by Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion
and the New Nation, San Francisco:Harper & Row, 1987, p. 37]
-------
"No distinction seems to be more obvious than that between spiritual
and temporal matters. Yet whenever they have been made objects of
Legislation, they have clashed and contended with each other, till
one or the other has gained the supremacy."
[James Madison in a letter to Thomas Jefferson Oct-Nov 1787]
-------
"To the Baptist Churches on Neal's Greek on Black Creek, North Carolina I
have received, fellow-citizens, your address, approving my objection to
the Bill containing a grant of public land to the Baptist Church at Salem
Meeting House, Mississippi Territory. Having always regarded the practical
distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity
of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could
not have otherwise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself"
[James Madison, Letter to Baptist
Churches in North Carolina, June 3, 1811]
-------
"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep
forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has
soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."
[James Madison, 1803]
-------
"The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error
so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians,
as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without
a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be
supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical
Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity."
[James Madison, Letter to F.L. Schaeffer, Dec 3, 1821]
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Abraham Lincoln---- you should also have a pretty good idea of who he is

"The Bible is not my Book and Christianity is not my religion. I could
never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma."
[Abraham Lincoln]
-------
"I am for liberty of conscience in its noblest, broadest, and highest sense.
But I cannot give liberty of conscience to the pope and his followers, the
papists, so long as they tell me, through all their councils, theologians,
and canon laws that their conscience orders them to burn my wife, strangle
my children, and cut my throat when they find their opportunity."
[Abraham Lincoln]
-------
"I see a very dark cloud on America's horizon, and
that cloud is coming from Rome."
[Abraham Lincoln]
-------
"My earlier views at the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and
the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with
advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them."
[Abraham Lincoln, 1862 letter to Judge J.A. Wakefield, after the
death of Willie Lincoln. ** Disputed; no such letter appears in
the scholarly edition of Lincoln's writings, none of Lincoln's
biographies mention Judge Wakefield; This originally appeared in
"Six Historic Americans", 1906, by John Remsburg, with no source
cited - "They Never Said It", Paul F. Boller, Jr. & John George]
-------
"It will not do to investigate the subject of religion
too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity."
[Abraham Lincoln, from "What Great
Men Think Of Religion" by Ira Cardiff]
-------
"My husband is not a Christian but is a religious man, I think."
[Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, in _Toward The Mystery_]
-------
"I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and by
religious men who are certain they represent the Divine will. ... I
hope it will not be irreverent in me to say, that if it be probable
that God would reveal his will to others, on a point so connected with
my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me."
[Abraham Lincoln. Chapter 14 of Part 5 of
"Six Historic Americans" by John Remsburg]
-------
"I care not for a man's religion whose dog
and cat are not the better for it."
[Abraham Lincoln]
-------
"Here are 23 ministers, of different denominations, and all of them are
against me but three; and here are a great many prominent members of the
Churches, a very large majority of whom are against me. Mr. Bateman, I am
not a Christian -God knows I would be one -but I have carefully read the
Bible, and I do not understand this book'; and he drew from his bosom a
pocket New Testament. 'These men well know,' he continued, 'that I am for
freedom in the territories, freedom everywhere as far as the Constitution
and the laws will permit, and that my opponents are for slavery. they know
this, and yet, with this book in their hands, in the light of which human
bondage cannot live a moment, they are going to vote against me. I do not
understand it at all.'"
[Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Newton Bateman, Superintendent of Public
Instruction for the State of Illinois, from "The Religious Beliefs
of Our Presidents, From Washington to F.D.R.", by Franklin Stiner]
-------
"It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion
without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and
the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him."
[Abraham Lincoln, chiding the editor of a Springfield, Illinois,
newspaper, from Antony Flew: How to Think Straight p 17]
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I have many more... but I will leave it at this for the moment.....
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