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Founders
« on: January 14, 2011, 12:00:21 PM »
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  • Quotations regarding religious beliefs:

     Thomas Jefferson John Adams
    Benjamin Franklin Thomas Paine
    James Madison George Washington
    Abraham Lincoln Links


     
     

     
    James Madison   The fourth president of the United States, James Madison, was much like the other Virginia presidents--Washington and Jefferson--who went before him. Like them, he loved his home state only a little less than his country. Like them, he was a rich man who gave his whole life to public service. He was an able student of politics and government who brought real knowledge and skill to his job.
    In public office Madison was a calm, reasoning statesman who governed by force of logic. In a time when emotions ran high, he made common sense prevail. He was not always successful in dealing with foreign nations, but history has shown that he had right and justice on his side.
    He entered the presidency at a time when war clouds hung over the young nation. He saw his country through the disastrous War of 1812, and his final months in office produced the "era of good feeling" that lasted for many years. He did well as secretary of state and as president, but his greatest record was made earlier. For his outstanding work on the nation's charter, Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution. .
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    Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe
    Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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    "It 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, "James Madison on Religious Liberty",

                     edited by Robert S. Alley, ISBN 0-8975-298-X. pp. 237-238
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    "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."
                                - "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785
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    "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."
                                - "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785
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    "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."
                                -letter to Wm. Bradford, April 1, 1774
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    "Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects."
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    "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."
             -1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches

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    John Adams   The second president of the United States was John Adams, lawyer and diplomat. Adams' public career lasted more than 35 years. He was second only to George Washington in making a place for the young United States among the nations of the world. In his devotion to the country he was second to none.
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    Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe
    Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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    "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?"
                        -letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816
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    "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!"
                                -letter to Thomas Jefferson
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    "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."
                                - letter to John Taylor
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    "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 cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity."
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    "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?"
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    "Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?"
                                       -letter to Thomas Jefferson
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    "God is an essence that we know nothing of.  Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world."
                      .

     
    "Have you considered that system of holy lies and pious frauds that has raged and triumphed for 1,500 years?"

     

    ". . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."
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    "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there  were no religion in it."
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    Thomas Jefferson  The third president of the United States was Thomas Jefferson. He had been the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. In an age of great men Jefferson was remarkable for his wide-ranging curiosity on many subjects. He helped the United States get started, and his plans for the future helped it grow. Many of the good things Americans enjoy today have come from Jefferson's devotion to human rights.
       Jefferson is often called the founder of the Democratic party. Many other groups also claim to follow his principles. He developed the theory of states' rights, which was against giving much authority to the federal government. He is known to everyone as the author of the ringing statement in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal, that among their inalienable rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. His writings have stood as a torch to the defenders of individual freedom, in spiritual as well as in worldly affairs. .
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    Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe
    Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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    "In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.  He is always in alliance with the despot ... 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."
                                - to Horatio Spafford, March 17, 1814
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    "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."
                                 - "Notes on Virginia"
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    "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.
                                 - letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787
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    "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."
                                  - to John Adams, 1803
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    "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."
                                  - to Baron von Humboldt, 1813
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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 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."
                                  - to Carey, 1816
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    "Gouverneur Morris had often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system (Christianity) than did he himself."
                                    -in his private journal, Feb. 1800
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    "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 repentance toward forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it."                    - to Carey, 1816
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    "The priests of the superstition, a bloodthirsty race, are 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."
                                     - to Story, Aug. 4, 1820
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    "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."
                         -  to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822
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    "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."

      "Notes on Virginia"
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    "Creeds have been the bane of the Christian church ... made of Christendom a slaughter-house."
                        -  to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822
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    "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."
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    "I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."
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    "It has been fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and then I considered it merely the ravings of a maniac."
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    "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 [birth] of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation [birth] of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."
                                     - to John Adams, Apr. 11, 1823
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    "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."
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        "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."
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    "We discover in the gospels a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication ."
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    "No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever."
                    -Virginia Act for Religious Freedom
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    "... 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."
                       - letter to Horatio Spofford, 1816
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    "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."
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    "Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law."
                            -letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, 1814
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    "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.  He is always in alliance with the despot.... 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."
                            - to Horatio Spafford, March 17, 1814
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    "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."
         -letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT
          "The Complete Jefferson" by Saul K. Padover, pp 518-519

    More about Jefferson's Religious Beliefs
    More of Jefferson's Writings
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    George Washington   Many United States presidents are honored for their great work, but two stand above all others-- George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is remembered for his great human qualities. Washington is beloved as the "father of his country."
        Washington was a "father" in many ways. He was commander in chief of the American forces in the American Revolution, chairman of the convention that wrote the United States Constitution, and first president. He led the men who turned America from an English colony into a self-governing nation. His ideals of liberty and democracy set a standard for future presidents and for the whole country.
        Washington seemed somewhat cold and formal to the public. With his family and friends he often relaxed. He helped family and friends with gifts and loans, asking only that they would not reveal the donor. However, he was quick to say "no" when he felt imposed upon.
       Washington's memory is held in honor by his fellow countrymen and by the world. The enemies and critics who attacked him in war and in peace are now largely forgotten. His name has become a byword for honor, loyalty, and love of country.
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    Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe
    Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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    The father of this country was very private about his beliefs, but it is widely considered that he was a Deist like his colleagues. He was a Freemason.
    Historian Barry Schwartz writes: "George Washington's practice of Christianity was limited and superficial because he was not himself a Christian...  He repeatedly declined the church's sacraments.  Never did he take communion, and when his wife, Martha, did, he waited for her outside the sanctuary...  Even on his deathbed, Washington asked for no ritual, uttered no prayer to Christ, and expressed no wish to be attended by His representative." [New York Press, 1987, pp. 174-175]

    Paul F. Boller states in is anthology on Washington: "There is no mention of Jesus Christ anywhere in his extensive correspondence." [Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, pp. 14-15]
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    "Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause.  Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated.  I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society."
                                - letter to Edward Newenham, 1792
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    "Gouverneur Morris had often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system (Christianity) than did he himself."
                                    -Thomas Jefferson, in his private journal, Feb. 1800

    More about Washington's Beliefs
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    Benjamin Franklin  Few men have done as much for the world as Benjamin Franklin. Although he was always proud to call himself a printer, Franklin had many other talents as well. He was a diplomat, a scientist, an inventor, a philosopher, an educator, and a public servant.
       Any one of Franklin's many accomplishments would have been enough to make him famous. He organized the first library in America, and the U.S. Postal System. He invented many things, including the lightning rod and the Franklin stove. Franklin amazed scientists throughout the world with his experiments in electricity.
       In Europe, Benjamin Franklin was the most famous American of his time. It was he who persuaded the English to repeal the hated Stamp Act. It was also he who convinced the French to aid in the American Revolution. Franklin helped draft both the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution.
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    Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe
    Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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    "I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue.  The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did."
                                      - letter to his father, 1738

     

    ". . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."
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    "I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it."
                - "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion",  1728
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    "I wish it (Christianity) were more productive of good works ... I mean real good works ... not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing ... or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments despised by wise men, and much less capable of  pleasing the Deity."
                                      - Works, Vol. VII, p. 75
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    "If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution.  The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another.  The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans.  They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves both here (England) and in New England."
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    "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."
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    "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."
                                    -in Poor Richard's Almanac
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    "When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."
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    "I looked around for God's judgments, but saw no signs of them."
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    "In the affairs of the world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the lack of it."

     

    "It is much to be lamented that a man of Franklin's general good character and great influence should have been an unbeliever in Christianity, and also have done as much as he did to make others unbelievers" (Priestley's Autobiography)

    More about Franklin's Deism
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    Thomas Paine was the "firebrand of the American Revolution."  His writings brought courage in times of crisis. The first was in January 1776. At that time the colonies were still split on the question of declaring their independence from Great Britain. Some instructed their delegates in the Continental Congress to act against separation from the mother country. Thousands of colonists were undecided. On January 10 Paine published a pamphlet, 'Common Sense'. To rally the faltering he wrote: "Freedom has been hunted around the globe. Asia and Africa have expelled her . . . and England has given her warning to depart. O, receive the fugitive and prepare in time an asylum for mankind!" Colonists up and down the seaboard read this stirring call to action. George Washington himself said it turned doubt into decision--for independence.
       As a young man he sailed to America from England, carrying letters of introduction from Benjamin Franklin, whom he had met in London. Franklin recommended him for the "genius in his eyes." Franklin's letters got him the post of assistant editor of the new Pennsylvania Magazine in Philadelphia. One of his essays denounced slavery in the colonies.
       In England he published 'Rights of Man' in 1791, in support of the French Revolution. Today the book seems moderate, but it so stirred Britain that he was indicted for treason. He fled to France and was elected to the National Convention. There he opposed the execution of Louis XVI. His humanitarian stand won him the ill will of the Jacobins, and he escaped the guillotine only through the fall of Maximilien Robespierre. After ten months in prison he was released and aided by James Monroe, then United States ambassador to France and later U.S. president.
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    Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe
    Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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    "The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.''
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    "Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind,  tyranny in religion is the worst."
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    "Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half of the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God.  It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.
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    "What is it the New Testament teaches us?  To believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith."
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    "Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies."
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    "We do not admit the authority of the church with respect to its pretended infallibility, its manufactured miracles, its setting itself up to forgive sins.  It was by propagating that belief and supporting it with fire that she kept up her temporal power."
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    "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church,  nor by any Church that I know of.  My own mind is my own Church.  Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."
                                    .

     
    "The story of Jesus Christ appearing after he was dead is the story of an apparition, such as timid imaginations can always create in vision, and credulity believe.  Stories of this kind had been told of the assassination of Julius Caesar."
     
     


     

    "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."
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    "The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion."

    -More of Thomas Paine's writings Online
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    Ethan Allen, Revolutionary War Hero

    "I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I am no Christian, except mere infant baptism makes me one; and as to being a Deist, I know not strictly speaking, whether I am one or not."
                                        preface, Reason the Only Oracle of Man
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    Abraham Lincoln, although not a Founding Father, was an extremely influential and important U.S. President.  He is considered, after George Washington, the greatest of presidents.  Every child is taught about Lincoln's birth in a log cabin, but what is not taught is that he rejected Christianity, never joined a church, and even wrote a treatise against religion.
    At times religious wording was written into Lincoln's speeches, but such public soothes were brought at the insistence of White House staff members.  In 1843, after he lost a campaign for Congress, he wrote to his supporters: "It was everywhere contended that no Christian ought to vote for me because I belonged to no church, and was suspected of being a Deist."

    When Lincoln was first considered for the presidential nomination, Logan Hay wrote to his nephew, the future Secretary of State John Hay: "Candor compels me to say that Mr. Lincoln could hardly be termed a devout believer in the authenticity of the Bible (but this is for your ears only)."

    Interviewer Opie Read once asked Lincoln about his conception of God, to which he replied: "The same as my conception of nature."  When he was asked what he meant by that, he said: "That it is impossible for either to be personal."

    His former law partner, William Herndon, said of him after his assassination: "[Mr. Lincoln] never mentioned the name of Jesus, except to scorn and detest the idea of a miraculous conception.  He did write a little work on infidelity in 1835-6, and never recanted.  He was an out-and-out infidel, and about that there is no mistake."   He also said that Lincoln "assimilated into his own being" the heretical book Age of Reason by Thomas Paine.

    Lincoln's first law partner, John T. Stuart, said of him: "He was an avowed and open infidel, and sometimes bordered on atheism.  He went further against Christian beliefs and doctrines and principles than any man I have ever heard."

    Supreme Court Justice David Davis: "He [Lincoln] had no faith, in the Christian sense of the term-- he had faith in laws, principles, causes and effects."
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    "The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."
                            -Spoken by Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Joseph Lewis
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    More about Lincoln's Non-religion

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    Links

     Six Historic Americans (Washington, Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Lincoln, Grant) (Free Complete Book!)

     The Early America Review- The Founding Fathers

     Christian Revisionist History

     The Faith of our Founding Fathers

     God on our coins

     Is American a Christian Nation?

     
    Proud "European American" and prouder, still, Catholic

     

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