Religious Kids Are More Selfish and Sadistic, According to Science: An eye-opening new study finds children of faith are less likely to share, more likely to mete out punishment. By Michael Schulson / Religion Dispatches December 13, 2015|
"The United States spends over $87 billion conducting a war in Iraq while the United Nations estimates that for less than half that amount we could provide clean water, adequate diets, sanitations services and basic education to every person on the planet. And we wonder why terrorists attack us." - John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Secular Coalition nonprofit advocacy organization whose purpose is to amplify the diverse and growing voice of the nontheistic community in the United States.
If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lectures, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind" (Clarence Darrow, July 10, 1925, Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee. Accessed from A response to the Hobby Lobby decision was written in 1925—in Tennessee! on 7/11/14). (my emphasis)
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
“Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.” (Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791)
"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." (Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack (1758))
"To argue with a man who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." (Thomas Paine, The American Crisis No. V (1776)) Read Paine's pamphlets here.
"Christian establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects." (James Madison, letter to William Bradford, Jr. (1774))
"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, General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia (1785))
“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.” (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr (1787)
"There is no greater source of strife, hatred, terrorism, bloodshed, persecution or war than religion" (Freedom From Religion Foundation).
"I'm so afraid of religion. Its capacity for murder is terrifying.” -- Doris Lessing
Religion and Magic Thinking"If you've been reading the papers, watching television or surfing the Internet over the past four months, you'll know The Secret: Rhonda Byrne's bestselling New Age DVD and book promoting "The Law of Attraction"--that as a man (or woman) thinketh, so shall he or she be...
"Byrne's rate of sales is nearly unrivaled in the annals of self-help snake oil...
"There's no problem, large or small, for which this bestseller doesn't claim to have an answer. Mired in debt? No problem, just start visualizing checks and paste a phony $1 million bill on the ceiling above your bed (so you'll see it first thing in the morning). Suffering from cancer? Skip the chemo and focus on healing thoughts. Need a parking place? Picture yourself pulling into that perfect unmetered spot. And while your're at it, get yourself a late-model car. The universe, The Secret asserts, is akin to a mail-order business and "you job is to declare what you would like to have from the catalog."...
"[Oprah] Winfrey in particular has championed The Secret, claiming that her own success is living proof of the Law of Attraction (with an uncharacteristic obliviousness to the trailblazers of the feminist and civil rights movements who preceded her). In the wake of Oprah's endorsement, sales skyrocketed...
"Much of The Secret's success can be chalked up to the mass media's infatuation with Byrne & Co.'s self-congratulatory message: that those who are well-off deserve their success--after all, they attracted it. But what about the unfortunate corollary that would necessarily apply to those who are ill, impoverished, dis-possessed or worse? What about The Secret's more egregious claims--that diseased thinking causes one to attract cancer and that positive thinking can cure it; that the children of Darfur attracted the starvation their families are facing with their wrong thinking; and that Jessica Lunsford, the 9-year-old Florida girl who was buried alive by sexual predator John Couey, brought her gruesome fate on herself... The Secret's contributors even claim that the antiwar movement causes war and, my personal favorite, that looking at fat people will make you fat...
"The real secret is that Americans earn less per week (in dollars adjusted for inflation) than they did in 1972...
"Americans are feeling the pinch, and the magical thinking that one can simply "ask-believe-receive" has a powerful appeal. While subscribing to The Secret's fantasy of effortless wealth and omnipotence requires that one buy into its darker victim-blaming corollaries, that seems to be a price millions are willing to pay rather than concede that their lives are subject to forces beyond their control. Dire circumstances call for magical solutions" (Micki McGee. "The Secret's Success. The Nation, June 4, 2007: 4-6).
"...today's reinveigorated atheist movement...
"...religion now looks nearly as bad as royalism did in the late eighteenth century...
"Noting that the Catholic Church divides angels into nine categories, or orders--seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels and ordinary members of the angelic rank-and-file--he lets slip that "what impresses me about Catholic mythology is partly its tasteless kitsch but mostly the airy nonchalance with which these people make up the details as they go along"...
"Dawkins's outrage at the persistence of medieval ideas in the modern era is warranted. In fact, it's overdue. Also warranted is the sheer pleasure he takes in recounting a double blind experiment funded by a whopping-rich outfit known as the Templeton Foundation to test the efficacy of prayer... the study involved 1,802 patients in six hospitals...
"The results, announced in April 2006, were a hoot. The first group of patients, those who had no idea that others were praying for them, did no better than the control group, while the second, those who knew they were the object of others' prayers, actually did worse" (Daniel Lazare. "Among the Disbelievers." The Nation, May 28, 2007: 26-32).
Templeton Foundation announces their study shows that prayer is not effective.
NYT: Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer "Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.
"And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications."
"Pacific as the Gospels may be, the religion they gave rise to has been remarkably violent... Western Europe during the so-called Age of Faith was the most warlike civilization on earth, with the exception of Japan. The Arabs were stunned by the brutality of the Crusaders when they invaded Palestine in the eleventh century... Barefoot and ragged, armed only with clubs, sticks, hoes and other crude implements, [the Tafurs] charged into battle gnashing their teeth, feasting afterward on the roasted flesh of whatever poor Muslim they managed to get their hands on. Yet the knights were so impressed with these holy cannibals that they gave them the honor of being the first ones over the wall during the climactic assault on Jerusalem in 1099...
"Although everyone remembers Christ's line about the meek inheriting the earth, she points out that the Gospels are in fact studded with apocalyptic warnings of the terrible fate awaiting those whose only sin is to question whether he is the messiah...
"...the heart of what is most troubling about Christianity. Telling people how to behave is one thing, but telling them what to believe means invading every intellectual nook and cranny in order to root out contrary ideas. It means robbing the individual of his last shred of privacy. From Christ's demand for complete psychological surrender, Drury contends that it was only a step to the great heresy hunts, book burnings and religious massacres of the Middle Ages...
""The totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century were equally preoccupied with the control of thought," Drury writes. "But in comparison to their more successful antecedent (i.e., the Church), they were mere amateurs"...
"Drury... thinks that "the religion of Jesus is zealous, immoderate, and unwise" and that, as a result, "Jesus cannot be totally absolved of the savage history of the Church"...
"...one reason the Church became so oppressive is that it continued to insist on a series of false ideas concerning the existence of God and the nature of Christ long after European society was ready to move on. The problem was not belief per se but belief that was increasingly at war with reality...
"Religion, as he sees it, is a bad idea that has lodged itself under the human skull and must be driven out. "It is difficult to imagine a set of beliefs more suggestive of mental illness than those that lie at the heart of many of our religious traditions," he writes [in Terror and Civilization: Christianity, Politics, and the Western Psyche, by Shadia Drury, Palgrave Macmillan]..." (Daniel Lazare. "The Gods Must Be Crazy." The Nation, Nov. 15, 2004: 29-36).
“Faith and knowledge are related as the two scales of balance; when the one goes up, the other goes down. . . . The power of religious dogma, when inculcated early, is such as to stifle conscience, compassion, and finally every feeling of humanity. . . . For, as you know, religions are like glow worms; they shine only when it's dark. A certain amount of ignorance is the condition of all religions, the element in which alone they can exist. ” (Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), cited in http://www.ffrf.org/day/, 2-22-05).
"No institution in modern civilization is so tyrannical and so unjust to woman as is the Christian Church. It demands everything from her and gives her nothing in return.” (Josephine K. Henry, letter responding to Frances Willard's praise of the bible. Published in the Appendix of The Woman's Bible, 1897.)
“Toward no crimes have men shown themselves so cold-bloodedly cruel as in punishing differences of belief.” (James Russell Lowell, Literary Essays, Witchcraft, Vol. II, p. 374 (1891)).
“It is impossible to exaggerate the evil work theology has done in the world.” (Lydia Maria Child, The Progress of Religious Ideas Through Successive Ages, 1855.)
“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” -- Blaise Pascal, French philosopher, Pensees (1623-1662)
"The tsunami of sea water was followed instantly by a tsunami of spittle as the religious sputtered to rationalize God's latest felony... whack[ed] a quarter million in a couple of hours...
"Thodicy, in other words--the attempt to reconcil God's perfect goodness with the manifest evils of His world...
"God's spokes-people hastened to stuff their fingers in the dike even as the floodwaters of doubt washed over it...
"Catholic priests like to remind us, "He's a 'mystery'"--though that's never stopped them from pronouncing His views on abortion with absolute certainty...
"...this is hardly the first display of God's penchant for wanton, homicidal mischief... God has a lot to account for in the way of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and plagues...
"If we are responsible for our actions, as most religions insist, then God should be, too, and I would propose, post-tsunami, an immediate withdrawal of prayer and other forms of flattery directd at a supposedly moral diety--at least until an apology is issued...
"Any religion centered on a God who is both all-powerful and all-good... should be subject to a thorough post-tsunami evaluation... If God cares about our puny species, then disasters prove that he is not all-powerful; and if he IS all-powerful, then clearly he doesn't give a damn...
"The faithful will protest that they don't want to worship a bad--or amoral or indifferent--God, but obviously they already do" (Barbara Ehrenreich. "God Owes Us an Apology." The Progressive, March 2005: 16-17).
“Gullibility and credulity are considered undesirable qualities in every department of human life--except religion. . . . Why are we praised by godly men for surrendering our 'godly gift' of reason when we cross their mental thresholds? . . . . Atheism strikes me as morally superior, as well as intellectually superior, to religion. Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.” (Christopher Hitchens, "The Lord and the Intellectuals," Harper's (July 1982), cited by James A. Haught in 2,000 Years of Disbelief (1996).)
"Pope John Paul II.... He was an inflexible traditionalist in denying equality to women in church and society. He regarded homosexuals as sinners and so legitimized the most primitive of hatreds... The Vatican's opposition to birth control programs contributes to the poverty of the Third World; its refusal to accept the use of condoms likely facilitated the spread of AIDS; its coalitions with Islamists in international bodies reinforced their capacity to deny rights to women...
"Often, the most engaged groups of the Catholic laity had to struggle with their own church for the right to carry its social doctrines into the public arena. The fate of the liberation theology movement is a striking example: In a continent desparate for justice, it was pronounced heretical--setting back reform of Latin American society a generation...
"The case of American Catholicism is especially disappointing... despite the Pope's opposition to the Iraq War, the Bush doctrines of global domination, and the sovereignty of the market--contributed to the defeat of John Kerry. Prominent cardinals and bishops instructed Catholics not to vote for him because of his views on the rights of homosexuals and women" (Norman Birnbaum. "An Ambiguous Papacy." The Nation, April 25, 2005: 5, 23).
"Efforts to include Christian "intelligent design" theory in high school biology classes have caused controversy in Dover, Pennsylvania. Intelligent design supporter and parent Ray Mummert said, "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture"" ("No Comment." The Progressive, May, 2005: 11).
"Americans are inundated today by proreligious propaganda. Unfortunately, the public has all too rarely been exposed to dissenting opinions. Yet there is a distinguished free-thought cultural tradition, which defends the secular outlook, and many of the leading authors in the world hold a nontheistic, secular humanist, skeptical, agnostic, or atheistic outlook. Indeed, a recent poll of Americans indicates that 29.5 million identify themselves as "nonreligious"" (from an ad by Prometheus book, 1-800-421-0351, Prometheus Books).
"Pope Benedict XBI, just twenty-four hours before his anointment, delivered a homily that condemned Marxism, atheism, and liberalism itself. He even scorned the "winds of teaching"" (Matthew Rothschild. "Airing it out." The Progressive, June, 2005: 4).
"...formal theology with its flatulent, self-serving assumption of a Being who is All-Good and All-Powerful. What a gargantuan oxymoron--All-Good and All-Powerful. It is certain to maroon any and all formal theologians who would like to explain an earthquake" (Norman Mailer. "On Sartre's God Problem." The Nation, June 6, 2005: 30).
"The Bible has the lowest ratio of people who have read it versus people who own it of any book ever" (www.gullible.info, June 5, 2005).
“I realized early on that it is detailed scientific knowledge which makes certain religious beliefs untenable. A knowledge of the true age of the earth and of the fossil record makes it impossible for any balanced intellect to believe in the literal truth of every part of the Bible in the way that fundamentalists do. And if some of the Bible is manifestly wrong, why should any of the rest of it be accepted automatically? . . . What could be more foolish than to base one's entire view of life on ideas that, however plausible at the time, now appear to be quite erroneous? And what would be more important than to find our true place in the universe by removing one by one these unfortunate vestiges of earlier beliefs?” (Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA structure).
"But I am mistaken in speaking of a Christian republic; the terms are mutually exclusive. Christianity preaches only servitude and dependence. Its spirit is so favorable to tyranny that it always profits by such a regime. True Christians are made to be slaves, and they know it and do not much mind: this short life counts for too little in their eyes" (Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, 1762).
“In India, as elsewhere in our darkening world, religion is the poison in the blood. Where religion intervenes, mere innocence is no excuse. Yet we go on skating around this issue, speaking of religion in the fashionable language of 'respect.' What is there to respect in any of this, or in any of the crimes now being committed almost daily around the world in religion's dreaded name?” (Salman Rushdie)
""Episcopalians are snooty because they spurn cake mixes and canned goods, without which there would be no such thing as Methodist cuisine." But everybody has to look down on somebody, they observe, so for Methodists, there are the Baptists, who put "little bitty marshmallows" on their congealed salads" (Selwa Roosevelt. "Southern Comfort." Guardian Weekly, June 24, 2005: 27. A review of the book, Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral, by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays).
"...almost all abusive marriages are hierarchical.
"The religious right pushes a retro father knows best paradigm. Traditional gender roles are not only being promoted by Bush judicial nominees like J. Leon Holmes and William Pryor but also through family and marriageg services like financial counseling (Crown Financial Ministries); marriage and child-rearing education (Focus on the Family and Family Life); and premarital counseling required by states providing the Covenant Marriage option.
"Clearer heads are having their say, though. With organizations like Christians for Biblical Equality and the Willow Creek Association, evangelicals are challenging the right's views on gender roles, saying that just as Christians erred in their interpretations of slavery and segregation, they are erring in their interpretations of marriage" (Letters. The Nation, July 11, 2005: 2).
"We're doing the will of God, they thunder, pointing to the holy word in Leviticus 18:22, which declares homosexuality an "abomination." We are not moral relativists, they cry, but Biblical literalists.
"Wait though--the wrath of Leviticus is deep and wide. Chapter 11, verse 10 tells us that eating shellfish is also an abomination. And in 11:6-8, so is touching anything made of pigskin--someone call the NFL! Leviticus 19 says that planting two different crops in the same field is forbidden by God...
"Extremists who insist that every word of the Bible must be accepted literally can't pick and choose which scriptures must be obeyed. I suspect they spend more time thumping the Bible than reading it... much less understanding it" (Jim Hightower and Philip Frazer, eds. "The great corporate jobs-for-subsidies con-job." Hightower Lowdown, July 2005).
"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" (Diderot, quoted in Letters. The Nation, July 18, 2005: 2).
“For years many a thinking people have had gloomy forebodings as to the result of the immense power of the church in our political affairs. . . . And the first step in the disestablishment of the church & of all churches is the taxation of church property. The government has no right to tax infidels for everything that takes the name of religion. For every dollar of church property untaxed, all other properties must be taxed one dollar more, and thus the poor man's home bears the burden of maintaining costly edifices from which he & his family are as effectively excluded--as though a policeman stood to bar their entrance, and in smaller towns all sects are building, building, building, not a little town in the western prairies but has its three & four churches & this immense accumulation of wealth is all exempt from taxation. In the new world as well as the old these rich ecclesiastical corporations are a heavy load on the shoulders of the people, for what wealth escapes, the laboring masses are compelled to meet. If all the church property in this country were taxed, in the same ratio poor widows are to day, we could soon roll off the national debt. . . .
"The clergy of all sects are universally opposed to free thought & free speech, & if they had the power even in our republic to day would crush any man who dared to question the popular religion.” (Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), unidentified lecture fragment from taxation on church property, c. 1877).
“The whole idea of god is absurd. If anything, '2001' shows that what some people call 'god' is simply an acceptable term for their ignorance. What they don't understand, they call 'god'" (Stanley Kubrick).
"Men are given to worshipping malevolent gods, and that which is not cruel seems to them not worth their adoration" (Anatole France).
“The freethinker has the same right to discredit the beliefs of Christians that the Orthodox Christians enjoy in destroying reverence, respect, and confidence in Mohammedanism, Mormonism, Christian Science, or Atheism.” (Theodore Schroeder, German Freethinker from Wisconsin).
"Sunday - A day given over by Americans to wishing that they themselves were dead and in Heaven, and that their neighbors were dead and in Hell" (H.L. Mencken).
"The most curious social convention of the great age in which we live is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected" (H.L. Mencken).
“Men of simple understanding, little inquisitive and little instructed, make good Christians.” (Michel de Montaigne)
“The bible was written at a time when people thought the Earth was flat, when the wheelbarrow was high tech. Are its teachings applicable to the challenges we now face as a civilization?. . .” (Sam Harris)
“The clergy are, practically, the most irresponsible of all talkers.” (George Eliot, via www.ffrf.org).
“We all ought to understand we're on our own. Believing in Santa Claus doesn't do kids any harm for a few years but it isn't smart for them to continue waiting all their lives for him to come down the chimney with something wonderful. Santa Claus and God are cousins.
"Christians talk as though goodness was their idea but good behavior doesn't have any religious origin. Our prisons are filled with the devout.
"I'd be more willing to accept religion, even if I didn't believe it, if I thought it made people nicer to each other but I don't think it does.” (Andy Rooney, via www.ffrf.org).
"Benjamin Franklin... didn't have much use for organized religion, saying it "serves principally to divide us and make us unfriendly to one another""("In Fact." The Nation, Dec. 26, 2005: 8).
“There ain't no answer. There ain't going to be any answer. There never has been an answer. That's the answer.” (Gertrude Stein)
“. . . . I decided (after listening to a "talk radio" commentator who abused, vilified, and scorned every noble cause to which I had devoted my entire life that) I was both a Humanist and a liberal, each of the most dangerous and vilified type. I am a Humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create a reasonably decent society. I am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril. I do not believe that pure reason can solve the perceptual problems unless it is modified by poetry and art and social vision. So I am a Humanist. And if you want to charge me with being the most virulent kind--a secular humanist--I accept the accusation.” (James Michener)
“Prayers never bring anything. . . . They may bring solace to the sap, the bigot, the ignorant, the aboriginal, and the lazy--but to the enlightened it is the same as asking Santa Claus to bring you something for Xmas.” (W.C.Fields)
“The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic.” --Bertrand Russell.
“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” -- Blaise Pascal
“A religious person is a dangerous person. He may not become a thief or a murderer, but he is liable to become a nuisance. He carries with him many foolish and harmful superstitions, and he is possessed with the notion that it is his duty to give these superstitions to others. That is what makes trouble. Nothing is so worthless as superstition. . . .” -- Marilla M. Ricker
“There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed . . . Those who made our Constitution saw this, and used the most apt and comprehensive language in it to prevent such a catastrophe.” -- Justice H.S. Orton of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, concurring opinion in Weiss v. the District Board, decided on March 18, 1890, ruling bible readings and devotionals in public schools unconstitutional
"To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns. Do not be surprised if they are used." (Richard Dawkins, 1999).
"To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns. Do not be surprised if they are used." (Richard Dawkins, 1999).
“Free thought means fearless thought. It is not deterred by legal penalties, nor by spiritual consequences. Dissent from the Bible does not alarm the true investigator, who takes truth for authority not authority for truth. The thinker who is really free, is independent; he is under no dread; he yields to no menace; he is not dismayed by law, nor custom, nor pulpits, nor society--whose opinion appals so many. He who has the manly passion of free thought, has no fear of anything, save the fear of error.” -- George Jacob Holyoake, The Origin and Nature of Secularism, Ch. 3 (1896)
"To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns. Do not be surprised if they are used." (Richard Dawkins, 1999).
“Religion is the idol of the mob; it adores everything it does not understand. . . . We know the crimes that fanaticism in religion has caused. . . .” (Frederick the Great, letter to Voltaire, July 6, 1737).
“The only true shield standing between women and the bible, that handbook for the subjugation of women, is a secular government. U.S. citizens must wake up to the threat of an encroaching theocracy, and shore up Thomas Jefferson's 'wall of separation between church and state.' ” -- Annie Laurie Gaylor
freethinkers... "There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds." (Alfred Tennyson. In Memorium).
“Christianity indeed has equaled Judaism in the atrocities, and exceeded it in the extent of its desolation. Eleven millions of men, women, and children have been killed in battle, butchered in their sleep, burned to death at public festivals of sacrifice, poisoned, tortured, assassinated, and pillaged in the spirit of the Religion of Peace, and for the glory of the most merciful God.”
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Refutation of Deism, 1814
Fish (fly-replete, in depth of June,
Richard Dawkins, _The God Delusion_.
"...as Mr Dawkins sees it, is that religious moderates make the world safe for fundamentalists, by promoting faith as a virtue and by enforcing an overly pious respect for religion. (Why is it easier for a Quaker to avoid combat duty as a conscientious objector than someone who simply deplores violence?)" (Richard Dawkins)
In the world today, one ancient religious ideology, monotheism, stands out as especially dangerous, repressive and loony...
"...monotheism posits one omnipotent, lonely sucker all by himself -- "the sky god" as Gore Vidal once called him... He's the original bad father, threatening awful punishments, with no wife, lover, siblings, friends, co-workers, neighbors or relatives to reign him in...
"Early Christians and then Muslims added to monotheism the great creative innovation of the promise of eternal life. A person gets to live forever if, and only if, that person closely follows the sky god's rules. This made monotheism much easier to sell, especially when coupled with the offer of extra credit toward salvation for converting others. It also made monotheism fantastically effective in motivating, inspiring, controlling and ruling people. Fueled by the monotheists' inexhaustible missionary zeal, in nearly 2,000 years this peculiar ideology has spread throughout much of the globe...
"Present-day America's most popular form of lunatic monotheism -- fundamentalist, evangelical Protestantism (and especially end-of-days Christianity with tens of millions of believers convinced that Jesus is returning soon) -- is deeply obsessed with the holy land. Crazed Christian fundamentalists love it when crazed Jewish warriors battle it out with crazed Islamic warriors. The Pat Robertsons regard the wars as win-win and ordinary believers see them as signs that the saved will soon be lifted to heaven. Unfortunately, these fundamentalist Christians now have enormous influence over the foreign policy of the most powerful nation in the world.
"Most monotheists want governments to punish people who fail to obey some of the sky god's ascetic rules. Even moderate, middle-of-the-road monotheists -- like the Roman Catholic Church -- pressure governments to criminalize and punish homosexuality, drug use and abortion. The large and growing numbers of Christian, Muslim and Jewish fundamentalists have far grander ambitions.
"The historic battles within monotheism are legendary: Hebrews vs. Christians, Sunnis vs. Shiites, Catholics vs. Protestants, Lutherans vs. Calvinists, Church of England vs. dissenters, Puritans vs. Baptists, and so many others. Currently some Islamic extremists have a hard time deciding who they despise more: Is it the evil Christian and Jewish heretics, or is it the evil Muslims heretics? So much heresy, so little time.
"For monotheism, it always comes down to heresy, to the rejection of orthodoxy...
"Like Mark Twain, Bertrand Russell and others before him, Sam Harris insists that the basic premises and literal texts of monotheism are so authoritarian and repressive that people who believe them also easily and frequently support all sorts of other repressive causes. For evidence, see the last 2,000 years of history, or tomorrow's newspaper" (James Foley, Alternet, http://www.alternet.org/story/42025/, accessed 9/25/06).
“Not only have the 'followers of Christ' made it their rule to hack to bits all those who do not accept their beliefs, they have also ferociously massacred each other, in the name of their common 'religion of love,' under banners proclaiming their faith in Him who had expressly commanded them to love one another.” -- Georges Clemenceau
“If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lectures, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind. ”
-- Clarence Darrow, "Scopes Trial" courtroom speech, July 13, 1925
“In India, as elsewhere in our darkening world, religion is the poison in the blood. Where religion intervenes, mere innocence is no excuse. Yet we go on skating around this issue, speaking of religion in the fashionable language of 'respect.' What is there to respect in any of this, or in any of the crimes now being committed almost daily around the world in religion's dreaded name?” -- Salman Rushdie
“For years many a thinking people have had gloomy forebodings as to the result of the immense power of the church in our political affairs. . . . And the first step in the disestablishment of the church & of all churches is the taxation of church property. The government has no right to tax infidels for everything that takes the name of religion. For every dollar of church property untaxed, all other properties must be taxed one dollar more, and thus the poor man's home bears the burden of maintaining costly edifices from which he & his family are as effectively excluded--as though a policeman stood to bar their entrance, and in smaller towns all sects are building, building, building, not a little town in the western prairies but has its three & four churches & this immense accumulation of wealth is all exempt from taxation. In the new world as well as the old these rich ecclesiastical corporations are a heavy load on the shoulders of the people, for what wealth escapes, the laboring masses are compelled to meet." (Elizabeth Cady Stanton).
"The clergy of all sects are universally opposed to free thought & free speech, & if they had the power even in our republic to day would crush any man who dared to question the popular religion.” (Elizabeth Cady Stanton)
"I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind--that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
"I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious. . .
"I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.
"I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech..."
"In a study done at Cornell University, it was found that athiests were 63 percent more likely to return a wallet found on the street than self-described Christians. The research was done with a planted wallet and a hidden camera" (gullible.info, Feb. 22, 2007).