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Religious Tolerance logo

Quotations

Part 1 of 2 parts.

Quotes on various aspects of religion,
written by authors with names
starting with the letter H to P.

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This topic is a continuation from the preceeding list

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woman prayingReligious quotes:

bullet Guy Harrison: "... religions, even the seemingly benign versions that warm so many souls around the world, are responsible for producing hell on Earth for far too many people. Despite all the chatter about love, religion encourages and supports evil. It always has. It always will." 1

bullet Robert Heinlein: "One person's theology is another's belly laugh."

bullet Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: "It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed; worship by discipline; love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion; its message becomes meaningless."

bullet

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States:

  • In A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, 1777: "God who gave us life gave us liberty.  Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift  of God.  Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is  just, that his justice cannot sleep forever."

  • From his book "Notes on Virginia" 1784: "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites."

  • In a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, 1800-SEP-23: "I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

  • In a letter to S. Kercheval, 1810: "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."

  • In a letter to Baron von Humboldt, 1813: "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."

  • In a letter to H. Spafford, 1814: "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 to his own."

  • In a letter to Thomas Whittemore, 1822-JUN-05: "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."

  • In a letter to John Adams, 1823-APR-11: "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 classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."

  • Unknown source: "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. 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."

Additional quotes by Thomas Jefferson are in a second list.

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bullet Charles Kimball: a Baptist minister, Middle East expert, and author of a phenomenally important book: When Religion Becomes Evil. "Whatever religious people may say about their love of God or the mandates of their religion, when their behavior toward others is violent and destructive, when it causes suffering among their neighbors, you can be sure the religion has been corrupted and reform is desperately needed."

bullet Martin Luther King Jr.: "Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals."

bullet

His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV:

  • "This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."

  • "All religion teaches the virtues of love, altruism and patience, while showing us how to discipline and transform ourselves to achieve inner peace and a kind heart. Therefore, they are worthy of our respect."

  • "The purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticise others."

  • "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

bullet C.S. Lewis: "It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence."

bullet David Liepert: "All of us think that our religion is 'good' and that those in apparent (and often politically motivated) opposition to it are 'bad.' But the real truth is that all of our religions are equally guilty of being used to promote violence, and -- thanks to centuries of political manipulation that have distorted the way we read our holy books -- all of us are equally guilty of not following what our religions really say."

bullet Abraham Lincoln: "When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion."

bullet James Madison, From "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785: "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."

bullet Karl Marx: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

bullet H.L. Mencken: "Morality is doing right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right."

bullet Richard Nilsen: Arizona Republic columnist: "We have reached an uncomfortable impasse. We need belief to make life meaningful, yet we cannot allow ourselves to believe in anything. Every faith, institution, political faction and ideal has proved at some level to be a tissue of hypocrisy. We decry our own cynicism, but recognize that, at some level, it is merely realism. Some [people] retreat into conventional orthodoxies; others free-float, aimless in an increasingly valueless society. But there is another alternative: starting from scratch to see if we may discover for ourselves something like universal truth and build the whole thing over again."

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bullet

President Barack Obama:

  • 2009-JAN-20: Spoken during his inaugural speech: "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers."

  • 2009-DEC-10: Spoken during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech: "And most dangerously, we see ... [thisambivalence] in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan.  These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded.  But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war.  For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint -- no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or the Red Cross worker, or even a person of one's own faith.  Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but I believe it's incompatible with the very purpose of faith -- for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us." [Hyperlink is not in the original.]

bullet Thomas Paine: "Of all of the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny of religion is the worst."

bullet Blaise Pascal: "Men never do evil, so completely and cheerfully, as when they do it from religious conviction."

bullet Edgar Allan Poe: "All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry."

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This topic is continued in the following list

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Reference used:

  1. Guy Harrison, "The day religion died," Free Inquiry magazine, Vol. 23, #4, at: http://www.secularhumanism.org/
  2. Karl Marx, "A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: 1843," Marxists Internet Archive, at: https://www.marxists.org/

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Copyright © 1996 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Copyrights for the individual quotations held by their creators
Last updated and reviewed: 2016-APR-03
Compiled by: B.A. Robinson

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