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Religion

  • ... hell is the place where nothing ever stops and nothing ever changes, a far more alarming conception than the old-fashioned fire and brimstone.

  • It is a fact beyond question that there are two kinds of Christian experience, one of which is an experience of bondage, and the other an experience of liberty.

  • ... God is enough! All religion is enfolded for me now in these three words.

  • Is religion impossible without fanaticism?

  • ... extreme happiness invites religion almost as much as extreme misery.

  • Hypocrisy is fatal to religion.

  • Spiritual teaching must always be by symbols.

  • Christian Science explains all cause and effect as mental, not physical.

  • I would no more quarrel with a man because of his religion than I would because of his art.

  • Politics and religion are dangerous subjects, for they may cause ill feeling even in the most cultivated company. Illness, death, and disaster are unpleasant, and consequently should be avoided.

  • You would get longer livelier and more frequent letters from me, if it weren't for the Christian religion. How that bell tolling at the end of the garden, dum dum, dum dum, annoys me! Why is Christianity so insistent and so sad?

    • Virginia Woolf,
    • 1934, in Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann, eds., The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume V: 1932-1935 ()
  • Whatever helps you sleep is my opinion on the subject, and that's what I like about the western world's most popular religion, it has helped put so many people to sleep, although most of them permanently and without their approval.

  • ... politics and religion in the United States work like the twin grips of a pair of pliers on a critical mass of the masses.

  • People having religions is an insult to the universe.

  • Religion converts despair, which destroys, into resignation, which submits.

    • Countess of Blessington,
    • in R.R. Madden, The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, vol. 1 ()
  • Men who would persecute others for religious opinions, prove the errors of their own.

    • Countess of Blessington,
    • in R.R. Madden, The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, vol. 1 ()
  • ... no new sect ever had humor; no disciples either ... it took age to ripen humor ...

  • ... there is no fanatic like a religious fanatic.

  • Somewhere, and I can't find where, I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, 'If I did not know about god and sin, would I go to hell?' 'No,' said the priest, 'not if you did not know.' 'Then why,' asked the Eskimo earnestly, 'did you tell me?'

  • Why do we people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute?

  • It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.

  • He had vowed long ago, and renewed his vow frequently, that if holding hands in a circle and singing hymns, as it were, was what it took to make life endurable, he would rather die.

  • The existence of very pious feelings, in conjunction with intolerance, cruelty, and selfish policy, has never ceased to surprise and perplex those who have viewed it calmly from a distance. ... It is impossible to exaggerate the evil work theology has done in the world. What destruction of the beautiful monuments of past ages, what waste of life, what disturbance of domestic and social happiness, what perverted feelings, what blighted hearts, have always marked its baneful progress!

  • Even if nothing worse than wasted mental effort could be laid to the charge of theology, that alone ought to be sufficient to banish it from the earth ... What a vast amount of labour and learning has been expended, as uselessly as emptying shallow puddles into sieves! How much intellect has been employed mousing after texts, to sustain preconceived doctrines!

  • It is wonderful how shy even liberal ministers generally are about trusting people with the plain truth concerning their religion. They want to veil it in a supernatural haze. They are very reluctant to part with the old idea that God has given to Jews and Christians a peculiar monopoly of truth. It is a selfish view of God's government of the world, and it is time that we knew enough to outgrow it.

  • Ah, my friend, that is the only true church organization, when heads and hearts unite in working for the welfare of the human race!

  • Once divested of missionary virus, the cult of our gods gives no offence. It would be a peaceful age if this were recognized, and religion, Christian, communist or any other, were to rely on practice and not on conversion for her growth.

  • ... the fastest-growing brand of religion is of the magical 'name it and claim it' variety, in which the deity exists only to meet one's immediate, self-identified needs.

  • [On property tax exemptions for religious groups:] why this odd privileging of faith over, say, knowledge or reason? Recall that Webster's offers as a general definition of faith 'firm or unquestioning belief in something for which there is no proof.' Would we want a faith-based defense system, for example, in which bombs are to be deflected by prayer? Or faith-based Medicare ... ?

  • ... the seeker who embraces positive theology finds ... that you can have all that stuff in the mall, as well as the beautiful house and car, if only you believe that you can. But ... if you don't have all that you want, if you feel sick, discouraged, or defeated, you have only yourself to blame. Positive theology ratifies and completes a world without beauty, transcendence, or mercy.

  • ... our great common challenge ... is to free people from religion, get it out of our laws, our schools, our health systems, our government and, I would add, also our sporting events. I would really like to see some separation of church and stadium, if we could work on that.

  • ... I am better able to imagine hell than heaven; it is my Puritan inheritance, I suppose.

  • Many are called impious, not for having a worse, but a different religion from their neighbors; and many atheistical, not for the denying of God, but for thinking somewhat peculiarly concerning him.

  • ... the leading error of the human mind, — the bane of human happiness — the perverter of human virtue ... is Religion — that dark coinage of trembling ignorance! It is Religion — that poisoner of human felicity! It is Religion — that blind guide of human reason! It is Religion — that dethroner of human virtue! which lies at the root of all the evil and all the misery that pervade the world!

  • The world is full of religion, and full of misery and crime.

  • ... it is not that religion is merely useless, it is mischievous. It is mischievous by its idle terrors; it is mischievous by its false morality; it is mischievous by its hypocrisy; by its fanaticism; by its dogmatism; by its threats; by its hopes; by its promises.

  • Religion may be defined thus: a belief in, and homage rendered to, existences unseen and causes unknown.

  • Some people are born into their religions, as they are born into being blondes, or French, or inhabitants of the upper brackets of wealth. This inherited religion is often too perfunctory to be of much practical use. As in most other values, the intimately important religion is the one which has been chosen voluntarily.

  • Religion supports and perpetuates the social organization it reflects.

  • Strange, there's so much religion in the world, but only enough to make us fight over who is right, not enough to make us love one another.

  • ... these Christians today don't represent the Christianity I know. I want Jesus to come back and say, 'That's not what I meant!'

  • How anyone can remain a Catholic — I mean who has ever been aroused to think, and is not biased by the partialities of childish years — after seeing Catholicism here in Italy I cannot conceive.

  • Anybody who grows up in the South may have to reckon, some time or another, with being born again.

  • And now the Nurse knew why she disliked church services, for as she raised her head, she observed that the Curate, and the Rector and the Archbishop were all men. The vergers were men; the organist was a man; the choir boys, the sidesmen and soloist and church wardens, all were men. The architects who had built the church, the composers of the music, the translators of the psalms, the compilers of the liturgy, all these too, the Nurse pondered, had been men.

    • Winifred Holtby,
    • "Nurse to the Archbishop" (1931), Truth Is Not Sober ()
  • [Religion is a] primitive insurance against disaster. ... Originally religion was merely a function of the self-preservative instinct. Offer sacrifices to the gods and save your crops. And even Christianity, after all, insures heavily against the flaws in this life by belief in another.

  • He always looked up and took notice when religion was mentioned; to this family the word was like 'rats' to a dog, owing, perhaps, to their many clerical ancestors, perhaps to the fact that they were latish Victorians.

  • ... he would do the thing thoroughly. He would enter once more into that great ark of refuge from perplexing thoughts, the Roman branch of the Catholic Church.

  • Churches are wonderful and beautiful, and they are vehicles for religion, but no Church can have more than a very little of the truth.

  • miss my daily Mass, and have a superstitious feeling that anything may happen on the days I don't go. However, nothing in particular has.

    • Rose Macaulay,
    • 1951, in Constance Babington-Smith, ed., Letters to a Friend 1950-1952 ()
  • ... what about Christianity? Are we right in the face of so long a record of its poverty in international achievement, to keep invoking it as a standard, almost synonymous with civilization?

    • Rose Macaulay,
    • letter (1948), in Jane Emery, Rose Macaulay: A Writer's Life ()
  • ... piety is like garlic: a little goes a long way.

  • A theology which is not based on revelation as a given reality but treats God as an idea would be as mad as a zoology which is no longer sure of the physical, tangible existence of animals.

  • The Passion that one Soul hath for God cannot be judged by another.

  • It's an incredible con job when you think about it, to believe something now in exchange for something after death. Even corporations with their reward systems don't try to make it posthumous.

  • What we have been raised to think of as inevitable — division and hierarchy, monotheism and nation states — actually accounts for less than 10 percent of human history.

  • We will live to see the day that St. Patrick's Cathedral is a child-care center and the pope is no longer a disgrace to the skirt that he has on.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • during Pope John Paul II's visit to New York City (1995), in Jack Huberman, ed., The Quotable Atheist ()
  • The form of religion was always a trivial matter to me. ... The pageantry of the Roman Church that first mothered and nurtured me touches me to this day. I love the Protestant prayers of the English Church. And I love the stern and knotty argument, the sermon with heads and sequences, of the New England Congregationalist. For this catholicity Catholics have upbraided me, churchmen rebuked me, and dissenters denied that I had any religion at all.

  • ... every one's Conscience in Religion is betwixt God and themselves, and it belongs to none other.

  • 'Twas Christ the Word that spake it, / The same took bread and brake it, / And as the Word did make it, / So I believe and take it.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • in Leah S. Marcus et al., eds., Elizabeth I: Collected Works ()
  • I b'lieve in religion, and one of these days, when I've got matters tight and snug, I calculates to tend to my soul ...

  • Religion! Is what you hear at church religion? Is that which can bend and turn, and descend and ascend, to fit every crooked phase of selfish, worldly society, religion?

  • He was gret on texts, the doctor was. When he hed a p'int to prove, he'd jest go through the Bible, and drive all the texts ahead o' him like a flock o' sheep; and then, if there was a text that seemed agin him, why, he'd come out with his Greek and Hebrew, and kind o' chase it round a spell, jest as ye see a feller chase a contrary bell-wether, and make him jump the fence arter the rest. I tell you, there wa'n't no text in the Bible that could stand agin the doctor when his blood was up.

  • I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure that I had a better one to put in its place, because such as it is, it is better than nothing.

  • Mrs. D. is resolved to marry the old greasy curate. She was always High Church to an excessive degree.

  • At the age of forty she is very far from being cold and insensible: her fire may be covered with ashes, but it is not extinguished.

  • No body can deny but Religion is a comfort to the distress'd, a Cordial to the Sick, and sometimes a restraint on the wicked; therefore whoever would argue or laugh it out of the World without giving some equivalent for it ought to be treated as a common Enemy.

  • [On Werner Erhard, founder of est:] If I wanted a new belief system, I'd choose to believe in God — He's been in business longer than Werner, and He has better music.

  • Persecution always acts as a jell for members of cults; it proves to them, in the absence of history, liturgy, tradition, and doctrine, that they are God's chosen.

  • ... Asa had looked into the face of many a religious man without being able to detect a thing there except a lifelong satisfaction in eating fried chicken and talking about sin.

  • ... in her opinion a man who made the love of God and a show of goodness his paying profession got more and more professional and less and less loving and good.

  • A religious awakening which does not awaken the sleeper to love has roused him in vain.

  • Sex and religion are bordering states. They use the same vocabulary, share like ecstasies, and often serve as a substitute for one another.

  • My position is that you do not have to practice a religion in order to have a religion.

  • [On a woman entering the convent after an unhappy marriage:] That's what happens to women like that — they give themselves to God when the Devil doesn't want them.

  • Religion is different from everything else; because in religion seeking is finding.

  • The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much on faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there around us always.

  • Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers.

  • 'Christian! Seek not yet repose'; / Hear thy guardian angel say, / Thou art in the midst of foes — / 'Watch and pray.'

  • All roads that lead to God are good.

  • So many gods, so many creeds, / So many paths that wind and wind / While just the art of being kind, / Is all the sad world needs.

  • A thousand creeds have come and gone; / But what is that to you or me? / Creeds are but branches of a tree, / The root of love lives on and on.

  • The Church has lost a great religious poet in me; but I have lost an infinity of fun in the church, so the loss is even.

  • Jesus was a friend of women, the first and practically the last friend women had in the church.

  • Sexual pessimism and hostility toward the pleasures of the flesh are a legacy from the ancient world which Christianity has preserved in a special measure to this day.

  • Sex is an aspect of human existence that has fallen prey in special measure to a very special form of theological science: the theological outgrowth or offshoot known as moral theology. Its biblical foundations are meager in the sense that nothing of the kind exists in the New Testament, so it has had to achieve its ambition largely by dint of its own efforts.

  • Confronted by a Church that has ceased to manifest God's mercy and intimate connection with humankind — that has converted Christ into a grim and joyless adjunct to the policing of bedrooms and marital intercourse — men and women can no longer see themselves as beloved of God, only as impure and reprehensible.

  • Men who believe that, through some exceptional grace or good fortune, they have found God, feel little need of culture.

  • If we go to church we are confronted with a system of begging so complicated and so resolute that all other demands sink into insignificance by its side.

  • The highest condition of the religious sentiment is when it has attained repose; when the worshipper not only sees God every where, but sees nothing which is not full of God.

  • Religion is a temper, not a pursuit. It is the moral atmosphere in which human beings are to live and move. Men do not live to breathe: they breathe to live.

  • This frank devotion is for me one of the most impressive features of Islamic culture. If we accept that it is more than a superstition then there is something very wonderful indeed about mixing one's daily deeds and one's daily prayers in such an unselfconscious fashion, instead of keeping each in an airtight compartment.

  • Sunnis consider Shias a pack of unwholesome fanatics and Shias consider Sunnis a gang of lukewarm no-goods — there's nothing like religion for spreading brotherly love!

  • ... you can't fit the same religion to every man any mo' than you can the same pair of breeches. The big man takes the big breeches an' the little man takes the small ones, an' it's jest the same with religion. It may be cut after one pattern, but it's might apt to get its shape from the wearer inside. Why, thar ain't any text so peaceable that it ain't drawn blood from somebody.

  • To a thrifty theologian, bent on redemption with economy, there are few points of ethics too fine-spun for splitting.

  • Workers need poetry more than bread. They need that their life should be a poem. They need some light from eternity. Religion alone can be the source of such poetry.

  • We do injury to a child if we bring it up in a narrow Christianity, which prevents it from ever becoming capable of perceiving that there are treasures of purest gold to be found in non-Christian civilizations. Laical education does an even greater injury to children. It covers up those treasures, and those of Christianity as well.

  • Everybody knows that really intimate conversation is only possible between two or three. As soon as there are six or seven, collective language begins to dominate. That is why it is a complete misinterpretation to apply to the Church the words 'Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.' Christ did not say two hundred, or fifty, or ten. He said two or three.

  • Religion is a form of nourishment. It is difficult to appreciate the flavor and food-value of something one has never eaten.

  • Christians ought to suspect that affliction is the very essence of creation. To be a created thing is not necessarily to be afflicted, but it is necessarily to be exposed to affliction. ... Affliction is the surest sign that God wishes to be loved by us; it is the most precious evidence of His tenderness.

  • From religion ... they will learn the only true lesson of equality — the conviction that our destinies are not in our own hands; they will see that no situation in life is without its share of suffering; — and this perpetual reference to a higher power ought equally to teach the rich humility, and the poor devotion.

  • My own view is that one cannot be religious in general any more than one can speak language in general; at any given moment one speaks French or English or Swahili or Japanese, but not 'language.'

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "Piety Without Content" (1961), Against Interpretation ()
  • Religion is probably, after sex, the second oldest resource which human beings have available to them for blowing their minds.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "The Pornographic Imagination," Styles of Radical Will ()
  • No matter what the belief, if it had modestly said, 'This is our best thought, go on, think farther!' then we could have smoothly outgrown our early errors and long since have developed a religion such as would have kept pace with an advancing world. But we were made to believe and not allowed to think. We were told to obey, rather than to experiment and investigate.

  • If only religion could be brought to take an interest in this earthly future, what a help it would be! ... Think of the appeal to the less spiritual of us, to those who never did get enthusiastic about eternity, or care so tenderly about their own souls, yet who could rise to the thought of improving this world for the children they love, and their children after them.

  • The peculiarity of all death-based religions is that their subject-matter is entirely outside of facts. Men could think and think, talk and argue, advance, deny, assert, and controvert, and write innumerable books, without being hampered at any time by any fact. ... with this arbitrary basis, the minds of men soared happily in unbridled conjecture, and built up colossal systems of thought ... which were imposed upon the world.

  • It cannot be too strongly asserted that the insistence on blind, unreasoning faith is due mainly to the maintenance of a subject-matter upon which there was no knowledge, namely the 'other world'; and that this basis was assumed because of early man's preoccupation with death. It is, unfortunately, quite possible to believe a thing which is contradicted by facts, especially if the facts are not generally known; but if the whole position on which we rested our religions had been visibly opposed by what we did know, even the unthinking masses would, in time, have noticed it.

  • The religious need of the human mind remains alive, never more so, but it demands a teaching which can be understood. Slowly an apprehension of the intimate, usable power of God is growing among us, and a growing recognition of the only worth-while application of that power — in the improvement of the world.

  • The first religious experience that I can remember is getting under the nursery table to pray that the dancing mistress might be dead before we got to the Dancing Class.

  • I've never been one for religion, but yet I've never been what ye could call an unbeliever. What I say is, nothin' don't seem impossible once you've clapped eyes on a whale.

  • [Salvation] is a curious process of divine burglary. The first thing to be wrested from one by a God who said 'Thou shalt not steal' is one's good opinion of one's self.

  • I doubt if we nuns are really as self-sacrificing as we must seem to be to you who live in the world. We don't give everything for nothing, you know. The mystery plays fair.

  • Untrained minds have always been a nuisance to the military police of orthodoxy. God-intoxicated mystics and untidy saints with only a white blaze of divine love where their minds should have been, are perpetually creating almost as much disorder within the law as outside it.

  • Grant that the idea of God is the most splendid single act of the creative human imagination, and that all his multiple faces and attributes correspond to some need and satisfy some deep desire in mankind; still, for the Inquirers, it is impossible not to conclude that this mystical concept has been harnessed rudely to machinery of the most mundane sort, and has been made to serve the ends of an organization which, ruling under divine guidance, has ruled very little better, and in some respects, worse, than certain rather mediocre but frankly manmade systems of government.

  • ... that sort of spiritual book-keeping which most of us call religion.

  • The one pleasure that never palls is the pleasure of not going to church.

  • Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

  • Religion was their meat and their excitement, their mental food and their emotional pleasure.

  • Religion ... has hardened their hearts and made it impossible for them to see, except through the dark glass of their own creed, what life is or ought to be.

  • It may be that religion is dead, and if it is, we had better know it and set ourselves to try to discover other sources of moral strength before it is too late.

  • Science and religion, religion and science, put it as I may, they are two sides of the same glass, through which we see darkly until these two, focusing together, reveal the truth.

  • The childhood of the individual and the race is full of fears, and panic-stricken attempts to avert what is feared by placating the gods with painful sacrifices.

    • Rebecca West,
    • "'Journey's End' Again," Ending in Earnest ()
  • ... she wondered why it was that saving one's soul was always made so dreary and unattractive, whereas the way to Hell was always so utterly delightful.

  • This religion and the Bible require of woman everything, and give her nothing. They ask her support and her love, and repay her with contempt and oppression.

  • While analyzing so many people I realized the constant need of a mother, or a father, or a god (the same thing) is really immaturity. It is a childish need, a human need, but so universal that I can see how it gave birth to all religions.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1935, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • Asia discovered two remedies for the cruelty of man, art and religion. America discarded both and is drowning in hate and aggressivity.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1966, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 7 ()
  • ... each drew his sword / On the side of the Lord.

  • From what I have seen, I am driven to the conclusion that religion is only good for good people...

  • The misfortune is, that religious learning is too often rather considered as an act of the memory than of the heart and affections; as a dry duty, rather than a lively pleasure.

    • Hannah More,
    • "On the Manner of Instructing Young Persons in Religion," Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education ()
  • We are too ready to imagine that we are religious, because we know something of religion. We appropriate to ourselves the pious sentiments we read, and we talk as if the thoughts of other men's heads were really the feelings of our own hearts. But piety has not its seat in the memory, but in the affections, for which however the memory is an excellent purveyor, though a bad substitute.

  • ... we contrive to make revenge itself look like religion. We call down thunder on many a head under pretence, that those on whom we invoke it are God's enemies, when perhaps we invoke it because they are ours.

    • Hannah More,
    • "On the Sufferings of Good Men," Practical Piety ()
  • ... no man ever repented of Christianity on his death bed.

    • Hannah More,
    • in William Roberts, Memories of the Life of Mrs Hannah More ()
  • As he had always fancied that piety was a melancholy, gloomy thing, and as he felt his own mind really gloomy, he was willing to think that he was growing pious.

    • Hannah More,
    • "The Two Wealthy Farmers," The Works of Hannah More, vol. 1 ()
  • The ubiquity of the Divine presence is the only true support, and I am sometimes astonished how persons, who evidently do not possess that grand source of consolation, keep up their spirits under trials and difficulties. It must be owing to careless tempers and nerves of brass.

    • Hannah More,
    • 1796, in Arthur Roberts, ed., Letters of Hannah More to Zachary Macaulay ()
  • She say, Celie, tell the truth, have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God.

  • Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "To the Editors of Ms. Magazine," In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ()
  • Dear reader, true religion is not gloomy.

  • I want a human sermon. I don't care what Melchisedek, or Zerubbabel, or Kerenhappuk did, ages ago; I want to know what I am to do, and I want somebody besides a theological bookworm to tell me; somebody who is sometimes tempted and tried, and is not too dignified to own it; somebody like me, who is always sinning and repenting; somebody who is glad and sorry, and cries and laughs, and eats and drinks, and wants to fight when they are trodden on, and don't!

  • Alas! when will 'good people' learn that the devil is never better pleased than when they try to make 'religion' a gloomy thing.

  • ... you think religion is what's inside a little building filled with pretty lights from stained glass windows! But it's not. It's wings! Wings

  • I don't go to church much anymore, but Methodist values still wind me up and send me ticking into my daily life.

  • Religion is a superstition that originated in man's mental inability to solve natural phenomena. The Church is an organized institution that has always been a stumbling block to progress.

    • Emma Goldman,
    • "What I Believe," in The New York World ()
  • ... religion and morality are a much better whip to keep people in submission than even the club and the gun.

  • Almost as many inhumanities are committed in the name of love as in the name of religion.

    • Bette Davis,
    • with Michael Herskowitz, This 'N That ()
  • ... the separation of church and state grew out of a desire, not so much to protect government from religion, but to protect religion from government.

  • It would be easier to peel off a three-day-old Band-Aid from a hairy kneecap than to remove the patina of Baptist upbringing that coats my psyche.

  • The essence of all religion is to be willing to risk your life for a belief — not for survival.

  • This is the purpose of theology. By it my life becomes clearer and more conscious.

  • To take sides with life and experience how we can transcend ourselves is a process that has many names and faces. Religion is one of those names.

  • We are afraid of religion because it interprets rather than just observes. Religion does not confirm that there are hungry people in the world; it interprets the hungry to be our brethren whom we allow to starve.

  • Religion is made up of unrestrained wishes.

  • And why should not women enter the ministry? The mother heart of God will never be known to the world until translated into speech by mother-hearted women.

  • The curse, canker, rust, and blight of the religious life, have been that we theorized instead of practiced, and that we antagonized those who differed from us as to our theories.

  • Christianity in its ideas was never the art of the possible.

  • ... I am not yet religious: I am only disillusioned with the irreligious.

  • Oh, that in religion, as in everything else, man would judge his brother man by his own heart; and as dear, as precious as his peculiar creed may be to him, believe so it is with the faith of his brother!

  • To become a lapsed Catholic, first go to a Catholic university.

  • For me, religiosity is ... the constant remembrance of the presence of the soul.

    • Gabrielle Mistral,
    • in Sister Rose Aquin Caimano, Mysticism in Gabriela Mistral ()
  • Catholicism isn't a religion, it's a nationality.

  • It's only a dogma that hells exists; it isn't a dogma that there's anybody in it.

  • ... why do born-again people so often make you wish they'd never been born the first time?

  • Christianity has not failed; it isn't often seriously tried.

  • For Christian truth is not always popular with the world.

  • Evangelism is the mainspring of an aroused living church.

  • We learned at an early age that it was men's interpretation of our religion that restricted women's opportunities, not our religion itself. Islam in fact had been quite progressive toward women from its inception ...

  • ... Jesus ... said — long before his followers had established churches and a priesthood — 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.' This Way is the life of the Spirit. To follow it entails no necessity for places (all places are holy ground), no priesthood, since every man becomes a priest unto God ...

  • Christian religions mix about as well as holy water and holy oil.

  • I'm startled or taken aback when people walk up to me and tell me they are Christians. My first response is the question 'Already?'

  • ... a church ought to express the joy of religion as well as its majesty.

  • We will be a better country when each religious group can trust its members to obey the dictates of their own religious faith without assistance from the legal structure of the country.

  • It is an open question whether any behavior based on fear of eternal punishment can be regarded as ethical or should be regarded as merely cowardly.

  • Her Episcopalian friends were persuading her to their wishy-washy way of worship. They really believed you could get to heaven without any shouting.

  • An organized religion is made up of fractions of personal religion and each person must make his own contribution to the spiritual possessions which will form the inheritance for succeeding ages.

    • Lily H. Montagu,
    • 1928, in Ellen M. Umansky and Dianne Ashton, eds., Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality ()
  • Now friends, if we want personal religion I would urge in all sincerity that we must not cut ourselves adrift from organized religion; if we do, we lose the best nourishment we can obtain. Organized religion has a part in the evolution of personal religion. It is the material upon which personal religion is grafted, but the process of grafting must be individual. Every human soul must, through thought, prayer, and study, cultivate his own religion to suit himself.

    • Lily H. Montagu,
    • 1928, in Ellen M. Umansky, ed., Lily Montagu: Sermons, Addresses, Letters and Prayers ()
  • Religion can consecrate happiness and intensify it. It can give consolation in times of sorrow. It can lift our lives out of dull monotony and give them a touch of poetry and romance. It can combat loneliness and give us increased dignity and self respect. It gives special beauty to family life and also to friendship. It can, in short, make life worthwhile.

    • Lily H. Montagu,
    • 1928, in Ellen M. Umansky, ed., Lily Montagu: Sermons, Addresses, Letters and Prayers ()
  • ... the biggest threat to the religious experience may well come from organized religion itself.

  • Our problem with religion today is that it is mainly nonreligious. We have lost the distinction between a true religious experience and belonging to an organized religion. A religious experience is mystical and wholly subjective; it doesn't include other people. It isn't a set of traditions, laws, dogma, and ruling hierarchies, which leave no room for personal revelations — precisely the sort of moments felt by the founders of the religion. That sense of being stirred by powerful unseen forces, accompanied by a great spiritual awakening, in which life is viewed by fresh eyes, has been replaced, in many cases, by the emotionless, repetitious, and mundane.

  • Credulity as a character trait is encouraged in every child who grows up with religious training, which invariably insists on the virtue of blind faith and the sinfulness of doubting and questioning.

    • Barbara G. Walker,
    • in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • Men get together in pretentious councils to decide what God is, what God thinks, what God wants the rest of us to do for him, and the one thing he never fails to want is more money.

    • Barbara G. Walker,
    • in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • The profoundly cynical premise of all religionists is that people are not capable of behaving decently toward one another unless they are lured with promises of pie in the sky and simultaneously terrorized by the threats of extreme nastiness in the eternal afterlife in hell.

    • Barbara G. Walker,
    • in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • Religion means a binding. If a man does not feel himself a part of the Universe, and does not hear its pulse, he is not religious. But once he has heard that pulse, he will be hearing it always. Every day his life will replenish itself from this inexhaustible source, eternal and powerful as the sun.

  • The melody of a religious feeling is the music of life itself. To those who do not hear it I could not explain what it sounds like ... If the spark isn't smoldering somewhere inside one, no efforts can ever bring it into existence. Water cannot catch fire.

  • A sense of religion is something one is born with, like a musical ear. One can develop it, cultivate it, enrich it, but if one hasn't got its seed to begin with, no powers of the intellect, no sophistication of 'evidence' can awaken it.

  • ... parsons always seem to be specially horrified about things like sunbathing and naked bodies. They don't mind poverty and misery and cruelty to animals nearly so much.

  • I always know it's Sunday because I wake up feeling apologetic. That's one of the cool things about being a Catholic ... it's a multifaceted experience. If you lose the faith, chances are you'll keep the guilt, so it isn't as if you've been skunked altogether.

  • We may think all religions beneficial, and believe of one alone that it is true.

    • Anna Laetitia Barbauld,
    • "Thoughts on the Devotional Taste, and on Sects and Establishments," The Works of Anna Laetitia Barbauld, vol. 2 ()
  • The Christian tradition was passed on to me as a great rich mixture, a bouillabaisse of human imagination and wonder brewed from the richness of individual lives ...

  • All real art is, in its true sense, religious; it is a religious impulse; there is no such thing as a non-religious subject. But much bad or downright sacrilegious art depicts so-called religious subjects.

  • Authentic Christianity never destroys what is good. It makes it grow, transfigures it and enriches itself from it.

  • ... religion institutions ... get lavish tax exemptions, subsidies, grants, service contracts, and giveaways of all kinds that keep their revenue stream flowing. It's a business, but one with little or no financial accountability. Religion is this nation's most favored welfare recipient.

  • Nothing is more central to a woman's life than the ability to control her childbearing. And it often seems that nothing is more central to authoritarian religions' belief systems than to prevent her from doing that.

  • Let those who want to run their own lives on religious principles do so, but don't let them run the lives of others.

  • If churches want to exercise their 'religious liberty' by denying services to those who do not conform to their doctrines, they should reject government funding and provide the services on their own dime.

  • I began to feel that if religion was either an illusion or a revelation, it was simpler to accept it as an illusion.

  • My father wears his faith like the bronze breastplate of God's footsoldiers while our mother's is more like a good cloth coat with a secondhand fit.

  • Christian ideology has contributed no little to the oppression of woman.

  • The arrogance of some Christians would close heaven to them if, to their misfortune, it existed.

  • ... a religious life is a combat, not a hymn.

  • Whatever efforts one may make, one must revert to the realization that religion is the real basis of morality; religion is the real and perceptible purpose within us, which alone, can turn aside our attention from things. ... The science of morality can no more teach human beings to be honest, in all the magnificence of this word, than geometry can teach one how to draw.

  • Every great religion is, in truth, a concentration of great ideas, capable, as all ideas are, of infinite expansion and adaptation.

  • Truth has never been, can never be, contained in any one creed or system!

  • 'Put down enthusiasm!' ... That is a pet saying of mine — the Church of England in a nutshell.

  • One may as well preach a respectable mythology as anything else.

  • I'm perfectly willing for people to believe what they want, but fundamentalists do not seem willing to let the rest of us believe what we want.

  • ... religion is poetry, — poetry is religion.

  • Religion must be life made true; and life is action, growth, development — begun now and ending never. And a life made true cannot confine itself — it must reach out and twine around every pulsing interest within reach of its uplifting tendrils.

  • When one loves God better than the Church is one called a heretic?

  • The Church is a system, — but whether it is as much founded on the teaching of our Lord, who was divine, as on the teaching of St. Paul, who was not divine, is a question to me of much perplexity.

  • You might say that science operates pragmatically and religion by divine guidance. If valid, they would reach the same conclusions but science would take a lot longer.

  • Take out the kernel of spiritual truth with any faith, and what is left is dogma.

  • I have met women in their seventies who still cry because they were denied the chance to study Torah, or prepare for Bat Mitzvah as young girls, or become rabbis though it was clearly their calling. My Bat Mitzvah was not only for me, but for generations of females denied permission or encouragement to do this.

    • Nina Perlmutter,
    • "Better Late Than Early," in Rachel Josefowitz Siegel and Ellen Cole, eds., Celebrating the Lives of Jewish Women: Patterns in a Feminist Sampler ()
  • If God had meant for me to be religious, he would have alphabetized the books of the Bible. It was just too hard for me to find what I was looking for, especially if I was looking for it through a few glasses of scotch.

  • Critical thinking is to a liberal education as faith is to religion. ... the converse was true also — faith is to a liberal education as critical thinking is to religion, irrelevant and even damaging.

  • Superstition is a funny thing. Actually, it's a belief that a thing not logically connected to events can influence their outcome. It's the faith that omens can control our fate. If you think about it, isn't that the basis of many religions — usually someone else's?

  • Human beings need a code of good and evil to live by, and whatever else the church has had to abandon over the centuries, it has convinced most of the world that morality belongs to religion. ... reason is for use in the practical world of science and commerce, but when it comes to moral issues — the most personally important kind of truth — then one looks to faith. Or at least, one turns away from reason.

    • Kay Nolte Smith,
    • speech (1983), in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • The critical principle of feminist theology is the promotion of the full humanity of women. Whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is, therefore, appraised as not redemptive.

  • To say that 'God moves in mysterious ways' is to put up a smokescreen of mystery behind which fantasy may survive in spite of all the facts.

    • Barbara Smoker,
    • 1974, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • ... I think prejudice and tradition count for three-quarters in matters of religion.

    • Beatrix Potter,
    • 1892, in Leslie Linder, transcriber, The Journal of Beatrix Potter: 1881-1897 ()
  • All outward forms of religion are almost useless, and are the cause of endless strife. ... Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.

    • Beatrix Potter,
    • 1884, in Leslie Linder, transcriber, The Journal of Beatrix Potter: 1881-1897 ()
  • The High Holy Days of my childhood ... embodied the very essence of new beginnings; for autumn, not spring, was when everything was new: my clothes, my classroom, books, pencil box, teachers — and Jewish chronology, which decreed a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to improve on the past.

  • When, and how, and at what stage of our development did spirituality and our strange notions of religion arise? the need for worship which is nothing more than our frightened refuge into propitiation of a Creator we do not understand? A detective story, the supreme Who-done-it, written in indecipherable hieroglyphics, no Rosetta stone supplied by the consummate Mystifier to tease us poor fumbling unravellers of his plot.

  • Every dictator uses religion as a prop to keep himself in power.

  • When it comes to ideas — and religions are, among other things, ideas — there is no right not to be offended. ... In fact, if you need laws ... to protect your faith, maybe your faith is weak.

  • For me, religion is serious business — a farrago of authoritarian nonsense, misogyny and humble pie, the eternal enemy of human happiness and freedom.

  • The idea that some day another wife would be added to our household was ever present in my mind, but, somehow, when the fact was placed before me in so many unmistakable words, my heart sank within me, and I shrank from the realization that our home was at last to be desecrated by the foul presence of Polygamy.

  • ... I discovered several never-failing signs by which one might know when a man wished to take another wife. He would suddenly 'awaken to a sense of his duties'; he would have serious misgiving as to whether the Lord would pardon his neglect in not living up to his privileges; he would become very religious, and would attend to his meetings ... which seemed just then to be very numerous, and in various other ways he would show his anxiety to live up to his religion.

  • In the Mormon Church the feelings or sufferings of women are seldom considered. If an order is given to any man to take a journey or perform any given task, his wife or wives are not to be thought of. They are his property just as much as his horses, mules, or oxen; and if one wife should die, it is of little consequence if he has others, and if he has not he can easily get them; and if he is not young or fascinating enough to win his way with the young ladies, he has only to keep on good terms with Brigham Young, or even with his bishop, and every difficulty will be smoothed away, and they will be 'counselled' to marry him ...

  • ... there comes a time in every rabbi's life when he thinks he's Moses.

  • Does being born into a Christian family make one a Christian? No! God has no grandchildren.

  • A person is either a missionary or a mission field.

  • From foolish devotions and sour-faced saints may God deliver us!

  • God deliver me from people who are so spiritual that they want to turn everything into perfect contemplation, come what may.

    • Teresa of Avila,
    • "Judgment" (1577), in E. Allison Peers, tr., The Complete Works of St. Teresa of Jesus ()
  • The only method of restoring the natural equality of dignity between men and women, lies in the demolishment of that elaborate theological structure which maintains that woman is made for the possession of man in a sense in which man is not made for woman, and that celibacy, per se, is a state of superior purity. Nature and common sense (not metaphysical sense) demonstrate that there is no good reason why any man or any woman should take, claim, or wield 'lordship' over another.

  • ... the lowest depth of women's degradation in Christendom was reached in the public sentiment (guided by ecclesiastics) which condemned thousands of poor creatures to be tortured and publicly burnt alive at the stake for their imaginary league with Christendom's imaginary devil!

  • She was a good Christian woman with a large respect for religion, through she did not, of course, believe any of it was true.

  • The old faiths light their candles all about, / But burly Truth comes by and blows them out.

  • Creeds grow so thick along the way, / Their boughs hide God; I cannot pray.

  • Dogma can in no way limit a limitless God.

  • One of the effects of modern liberal Protestantism has been gradually to turn religion into poetry and therapy, to make truth vaguer and vaguer and more and more relative, to banish intellectual distinctions, to depend on feeling instead of thought, and gradually to come to believe that God has no power, that he cannot communicate with us, cannot reveal himself to us, indeed has not done so, and that religion is our own sweet invention.

  • ... I find churches limit me.

  • ... the Church will go on being a Royal Academy of Males.

  • You think Christianity is favorable to women? On the contrary. It is the Christian countries that have produced the prostitute and the most vile estimations of women in the world.

  • No future life could heal the degradation of having been a woman. Religion in the world had nothing but insults for women.

  • ... so long as you believe that man is essentially evil in nature, and a more vicious doctrine was never promulgated, it follows that he is often going to need to have his ears slapped back, and who should do this but the clergy?

  • It is a very rare church indeed that encourages its members to think for themselves in religious matters, or even tolerates this, and in most of them the clergy are quite ready to lay down the law in other fields too.

  • In some not altogether frivolous sense God needs to be liberated from our theology. Theology is not a tabernacle to contain the One who is Ahead, but it is a sign on the way, and thus is provisional. Thus the theologian is not only protester and prophet, if she is lucky, but also pilgrim.

    • Joan Arnold Romero,
    • in Mary A. Warner and Dayna Beilenson, eds., Women of Faith and Spirit ()
  • ... certain ancient cavilers have gone so far as to deny that the female sex, as opposed to the male sex, is made in the likeness of God, which likeness they must have taken to be, as far as I can tell, in the beard.

  • Oh! if people were but acquainted with piety, they would not fear it so much, or give it so unattractive a character; 'tis the balm of life, and perhaps in the world it is believed to consist of bitterness, harshness, uncouthness; but, take my word for it, nothing is more gentle, more yielding, more loving than a pious soul.

    • Eugénie de Guérin,
    • letter (1838), in Guillaume S. Trébutien, ed., Letters of Eugénie de Guérin ()
  • But I make a distinction between the doctrines of the Church, which matter, and the structure invented by half a dozen Italians who got to be pope and which is of very little use to anybody.

  • [Moses] probably said to himself, 'Must stop or I shall be getting silly.' That is why there are only ten commandments.

  • There is a broad distinction between religion and theology. The one is a natural, human experience common to all well-organized minds. The other is a system of speculations about the unseen and the unknowable, which the human mind has no power to grasp or explain, and these speculations vary with every sect, age, and type of civilization. No one knows any more of what lies beyond our sphere of action than thou and I, and we know nothing.

    • Lucretia Mott,
    • to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda J. Gage, eds., The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 1 ()
  • It is not Christianity but priestcraft that has subjected woman as we find her.

    • Lucretia Mott,
    • 1853, in Dana Greene, ed., Lucretia Mott: Her Complete Speeches and Sermons ()
  • One of the first things Catholic school taught me is that babies were born sinners. You sucked before you took your first breath.

  • People seek for the spiritual champagne, but they mistake what it is ...

    • Fredrika Bremer,
    • 1851, America of the Fifties: Letters of Fredrika Bremer ()
  • During my stay in Boston I have visited different churches, and it has so happened that the greatest number of them have belonged to the Unitarian body. So great, indeed, is the predominance of this sect in Boston that it is generally called 'the Unitarian city.'

    • Fredrika Bremer,
    • 1850, America of the Fifties: Letters of Fredrika Bremer ()
  • [On women as priests:] It has always seemed very odd to me that this particular sphere of activity should remain a male closed shop, seeing that, to judge from church attendance, women are the more religious sex — while our criminal statistics make quite clear that they are the least wicked.

  • It is clearly absurd that it should be possible for a woman to qualify as a saint with direct access to the Almighty, while she may not qualify as a curate.

  • ... most churches on either side of the ocean see women as playing only a 'supportive,' if any, role in their congregations. Men preach, women listen. Men pray, women say 'Amen.' Men form the clergy, the diaconate or the oversight, women abide by their leadership. Men study theology, women sew for the bazaar. Men make decisions, women make the tea.

  • The consensus appears to be that as it is presented and practiced in our churches the gospel is not Good News for women.

  • ... in religion even when the reward is far the hope is so immediate.

  • Religion is love; in no case is it logic.

  • ... the devil makes a great deal of the religion we see ...

  • 'There is no doubt, I suppose,' retorted our grandmother, 'about heaven repaying you; but there seems to be a good deal of doubt whether it will be in current coin.'

  • She makes long, long prayers, they say — so long that she has been found in the morning fainting on the cold floor of the convent church. ... They all say she will have a very high place in heaven; but it seems to me, unless there is a very great difference between the highest and lowest places in heaven, it is a great deal of trouble to take.

  • It must in candor be said that his religion sat upon him lightly.

  • We are about drawing in the poor, the lonely, the marginalized, all those seeking to be part of a whole. This is nothing more and nothing less than the most awesome vocation, and that is to give birth to God.

    • Ilia Delio,
    • "Religious Life on the Edge of the Universe," Leadership Conference of Women Religious, in National Catholic Reporter ()
  • You may go over the world and you will find that every form of religion which has breathed upon this earth has degraded woman.

  • The Bible and Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman's emancipation.

  • I have been into many of the ancient cathedrals — grand, wonderful, mysterious. But I always leave them with a feeling of indignation because of the generations of human beings who have struggled in poverty to build these altars to the unknown god.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1882, in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • The Church is a terrible engine of oppression, especially as concerns woman.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1852, in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • ... the religious superstitions of women perpetuate their bondage more than all other adverse influences ...

  • ... religious superstitions more than all other influences put together cripple & enslave woman, but so long as women themselves do not see it & hug their chains, we have a great educational work to do ...

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • in Ann Gordon, ed., The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, vol. 5 ()
  • If all the church property in this country were taxed, in the same ratio poor widows are to day, we would soon roll off the national debt.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1877, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • Without fear of contradiction, I can safely say that every step in progress that woman has made she has been assailed by ecclesiastics, that her most vigilant unwearied opponents have always been the clergy ...

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1888, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • in Earl G. Ingersoll, Waltzing Again: New and Selected Conversations With Margaret Atwood ()
  • ... religion, to be a factor in experience, must be pleasurable.

  • ... religion, like beauty, cannot be experienced in cold blood.

  • The world of religion is no longer a concrete fact proposed for our acceptance and adoration. It is an unfathomable universe which engulfs us, and which lives its own majestic uncomprehended life: and we discover that our careful maps and cherished definitions bear little relation to its unmeasured reality.

  • The word 'religion' takes on a sinister cast when one examines its root, religare, meaning 'to bind,' which in turn means 'to hold, to make prisoner, to restrain.'

    • Annie Laurie Gaylor,
    • Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • ... the Gods / by teaching us religion first, first set the World at Odds.

    • Aphra Behn,
    • "The Golden Age," in Janet M. Todd, The Works of Aphra Behn ()
  • The worst form of slavery is when the slave believes he is free. This is how women under Islam feel.

  • Not everything in church is truth ... And not all truth turns up in church.

  • Religion is about increasing peace and harmony in the world. ... People of all different religions should be given the opportunity to pursue good in their own way.

    • Aung San Suu Kyi,
    • in Whitney Stewart, Aung San Suu Kyi: Fearless Voice of Burma ()
  • Szechuan was the main bastion of Roman Catholic missionary endeavour into Central Asia. From Chengtu French priests went on long treks into Tibet and Mongolia. Their courage and ability to endure hardship might have been praiseworthy had it not been only too clear that the religious garb covered most unreligious actions. Catholic priests and bishops bought up whole villages in times of flood and famine, demanded and obtained on threat of military action the best land in cities for their churches, after evicting the inhabitants and paying no compensation. Catholic priests formed militia bands of their own, and claimed to rank higher than our own magistrates. Bishops were invested with the pomp and power of governor-generals. They used sedan chairs with eight carriers, a drummer going in front, and everyone in the street where they passed had to stop work, stand up, and unroll their headbands in obeisance to the Catholic bishop, on pain of being beaten with the 'heavy bamboo.'

  • ... metaphors for God drawn from human experience can easily be literalized. While we are immediately aware that the personal God is not really a rock or a mother eagle, it is easy enough to imagine that God is really a king or a father.

  • ... the gender of God, God's presumed masculinity, has functioned as the ultimate religious legitimization of the unjust social structures which victimize women.

  • There was no known cure for a Catholic education.

  • [When hospital asked her religion:] Haven't chosen yet.

  • ... congregants are usually numbed in worship services.

    • Fanchon Shur,
    • in Ellen M. Umansky and Dianne Ashton, eds., Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality ()
  • ... whatever devotion to something else there was in him had been made impure by church taken as a weekly, dutiful thing.

    • Kay Boyle,
    • "Career," The White Horses of Vienna ()
  • Dogma? Faith? These are the right and left pillars of every soul-crushing theology. Theosophists have no dogmas, exact no blind faith.

  • The Christians were the first to make the existence of Satan a dogma of the Church. ... what is the use in a Pope, if there is no Devil?

  • Little do the devout worshippers of the Vatican suspect, when they lift up their eyes in mute adoration upon the head of their God on Earth, the Pope, that what they admire, is after all, but the caricatured head-dress, the Amazon-like helmet of Pallas Athene, the heathen goddess Minerva! In fact, there is scarcely a rite or ceremony of the christian Church that does not descend from Occultism.

  • ... the most grievous wrong of that day ... was to be found in the establishment of the celibacy of the clergy. ... This hideous doctrine of a celibate priesthood was maintained only by a constant struggle against the better and truer instincts of the heart.

    • Lillie Devereux Blake,
    • 1883, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • It is nonsense to say that women have never had any power in the Churches: they have had immense power, but power in the form of influence, which is irresponsible power. Nobody can call to account the wife or mother who gets her way with husband or son and is known to be the real director of his opinion and vote. This is the form of power to which women, especially very able women, have been confined by their exclusion from responsible power.

  • If we are open to the possibilities of language we will be sensitive to the use of it by others and recognize that others may be speaking of profoundly religious matters without using traditional language.

  • Dogmas are the toys that amuse and can satisfy but unreasoning children. They are the offspring of human speculation and prejudiced fancy.

  • ... why, the only reason for religion is that it can make you, keep you safe. If religion weren't true, then there would be no salvation, no comfort for being alive and alone, there would be nothing but living and dying — no, that cannot be so ... of course religion is true and will save me ...

  • Have you ever stopped to think how much unhappiness and downright cruelty are laid to the loving kindness of the Lord? And always by His most ardent followers, it seems.

  • The religion of our fathers overhung us children like the shadow of a mighty tree against the trunk of which we rested, while we looked up in wonder through the great boughs that half hid and half revealed the sky. Some of the boughs were already decaying, so that perhaps we began to see a little more of the sky than our elders; but the tree was sound at its heart ...

  • ... Irish Catholicism is very much founded on the stone of fear and of punishment.

  • It is hard for many people today to make the distinction between religion and religiosity, the latter a dangerous parody of the former.

  • Religions, which are often nothing more than cults that grew, set the stage for the credulity and gullibility required for membership in cults.

  • Myth is a tale once believed as truth; believed, it is not myth, but religion. A tale once religiously believed that has come to be called a myth is something of religion corrupted with disbelief. What are beliefs for some societies but myths for others cannot fill spiritual vacancies in the life of those others.

  • In religion is much tiredness of people, a giving over of their doing to Someone Else.

  • A religion addresses the longing in us to have that said from which we can go on to speak of next and next things rightly, in their immediate time — the telling of what came first and before done forever.

  • To tell one comprehensive story of how it has happened that what is is, one which shall hold true, come what may, now-after — a story that whatever comes shall perfectly continue or confirm: such is the ideal motive of religions.

  • Orthodox religion has always been the staunchest enemy of women's rights ...

  • Out of the attempt to harmonize our actual life with our aspirations, our experience with our faith, we make poetry, — or, it may be, religion.

  • Great music has always been rooted in religion — when religion is understood as an attitude toward superhuman power and the mysteries of the universe.

  • ... churches, like all the rest of our major institutions, are rooted in capitalism. For a church to attack capitalism is to 'bite the hand that feeds it.'

  • Persons who would never think of announcing boldly to the world, 'I am a scholar,' 'I am a great artist,' 'I am a beautiful woman,' nevertheless seem to think it wholly within the bounds of good taste to announce that they are Christians!

  • ... religion is perhaps its own worst enemy. For religion, masquerading under the guise of archaic creeds, and impossible literalisms, and ecclesiasticism indifferent to human needs, has brought about an inevitable and in many respects wholesome revulsion.

  • The primary battle which religion must fight today is the battle to justify its own existence.

  • ... while religion is ethical, it by no means follows that ethics is religion.

  • Religion is the most widely debated and least agreed upon phenomenon of human history.

  • The perpetual danger which besets religion is that it may substitute gentility and aestheticism for prophetic insight and power.

  • This tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.

  • One can be coerced to church, but not to worship.

  • Reason does not get one far toward religion, but as far as it goes, it is indispensable.

  • One has to be very religious to change one's religion.

  • ... one trouble with all the churches is that they have too many incurable saints in them, men and women who pray too much and do too little, who cannot forget their own selfish salvation enough to look after other people's without feeling their own spiritual pulse all the time they are doing it. Of late I've sometimes suspected that it is nearly as debilitating to stay in the church all the time as it would be to stay in a hospital all the time.

  • ... even Mademoiselle Neubahr can't make me believe in hell. It doesn't seem a very — witty — solution of the crime-and-punishment situation, does it?

  • Politics and religion mixed is the headiest cock-tail ever invented. That it is a mixture cannot, I fear, be controverted. It is very, very old.

  • The philosophy of love and peace strangely overlooked who was in possession of the guns. There had been love and peace for some time on the continent of Africa because for all this time black men had been captivated by the doctrines of Christianity. It took them centuries to realize its contradictions. ... perhaps there was no greater crime as yet than all the lies Western civilization had told in the name of Jesus Christ.

  • On this earth there are many roads to heaven; and each traveller supposes his own to be the best. But they must all unite in one road at the last. It is only Omniscience that can decide. And it will then be found that no sect is excluded because of its faith ...

  • ... religion was her theater, her dance, her wine, her song.

  • If you hold your religion lightly you are sure to let it slip.

  • If your religion is of the kind that can be easily hidden, it can be easily lost.

  • When people clamor for a new religion, what they really want is a religion that isn't too religious.

  • If absence make the heart grow fonder, then a lot of folks sure do love the church.

  • When all else fails, and to stand firm seems impossible, stand on the wood of the Cross; it will float with you.

  • The laws of God work in the same way as the laws of Science. You cannot break them — you can only break yourself against them.

  • Whilst you live a very little religion seems enough; but believe me, it requires a great deal when you come to die.

  • Mistrust of godless higher education is a constant theme of the evangelicals. 'You can educate yourself right out of a relationship with God.'

  • ... some people seem to graze like sheep in the placid pastures of their faith. Some of them were born there and never broke away ... Others, after some wandering, found shelter there and are quiet and content. They look with a bland mystification at the mavericks.

  • [To Timothy LaHaye:] So, Mr. LaHaye, when the Rapture happens, can I have your stuff?

  • [On religion:] Wasn't it invented by man for a kind of solace? It's as though he had said, 'I'll make me a nice comfortable garment to shut out the heat and the cold,' and then it ends by becoming a strait-jacket.

  • Anita Bryant is to Christianity what paint by numbers is to art.

    • Robin Tyler,
    • in Gloria Kaufman and Mary Kay Blakely, eds., Pulling Our Own Strings ()
  • When I speak of religion I mean a constant inward sense of communion with God ...

    • Rachel Simon,
    • 1840, in Ellen M. Umansky and Dianne Ashton, eds., Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality ()
  • With all its pleasures, Passover was only nice. Yom Kippur was weird, monumental. Imagine not eating for a whole day to prove something or other to God, or yelling at God in the synagogue as the bearded old men did in their white shawls, their heads thrown back, their Adam's apples tearing at their skinny throats.

  • Religion is passionate, reckless, destructive, idol-smashing. It's a martyr burning at the stake. It's a crown of thorns and a cross.

  • The Christian religion, outwardly and even in intention humble, does, without meaning it, teach man to regard himself as the most important of all created things. Man surveys the starry heavens and hears with his ears of the plurality of worlds; yet his religion bids him believe that his alone out of these innumerable spheres is the object of his master's love and sacrifice.

    • Ouida,
    • "The Failure of Christianity," Views and Opinions ()
  • [On Christianity:] Its lip-service and its empty rites have made it the easiest of all tasks for the usurer to cloak his cruelties, the miser to hide his avarice, the lawyer to condone his lies, the sinner of all social sins to purchase the social immunity from them by outward deference to churches.

    • Ouida,
    • "The Failure of Christianity," Views and Opinions ()
  • Love, the one supreme, unceasing source of human felicity, the one sole joy which lifts the whole mortal existence into the empyrean, was by it [Christianity] degraded into the mere mechanical action of reproduction.

    • Ouida,
    • "The Failure of Christianity," Views and Opinions ()
  • Christianity has ever been the enemy of human love; it has forever cursed and expelled and crucified the one passion which sweetens and smiles on human life, which makes the desert blossom as the rose, and which glorifies the common things and common ways of earth. It made of this, the angel of life, a shape of sin and darkness ... Even in the unions which it reluctantly permitted, it degraded and dwarfed the passion which it could not entirely exclude, and permitted it coarsely to exist for the mere necessity of procreation.

    • Ouida,
    • "The Failure of Christianity," Views and Opinions ()
  • In its permission to man to render subject to him all other living creatures of the earth, it continued the cruelty of the barbarian and the pagan, and endowed these with what appeared a divine authority ...

    • Ouida,
    • "The Failure of Christianity," Views and Opinions ()
  • Christianity has been cruel in much to the human race. It has quenched much of the sweet joy and gladness of life; it has caused the natural passions and affections of it to be held as sins ...

    • Ouida,
    • "The Failure of Christianity," Views and Opinions ()
  • Christianity ... has produced the iniquities of the Inquisition, the egotism and celibacy of the monasteries, the fury of religious wars, the ferocity of the Hussite, of the Catholic, of the Puritan, of the Spaniard, of the Irish Orangeman and of the Irish Papist; it has divided families, alienated friends, lighted the torch of civil war, and borne the virgin and the greybeard to the burning pile, broken delicate limbs upon the wheel and wrung the souls and bodies of innocent creatures on the rack; all this it has done, and done in the name of God.

    • Ouida,
    • "The Failure of Christianity," Views and Opinions ()
  • Even of death Christianity has made a terror which was unknown to the gay calmness of the Pagan ...

    • Ouida,
    • "The Failure of Christianity," Views and Opinions ()
  • Dedication to one's work in the world is the only possible sanctification. Religion in all its forms is dedication to Someone Else's work, not yours.

  • Religion without humanity is poor human stuff.

    • Sojourner Truth,
    • 1877, in Carleton Mabee, Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend ()
  • Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

    • Sojourner Truth,
    • speech (1851), in Olive Gilbert, Narrative of Sojourner Truth ()
  • Religion is an experience of God. Theology is merely an attempt to explain the experience.

    • Alice Sanford,
    • in Marjorie Holmes, How Can I Find You, God? ()
  • The trilogy composed of politics, religion and sex is the most sensitive of all issues in any society.

  • I'd rather be a born-once hog than a born-again Christian any day ...

  • Religion is about God's truth, but none of us can grasp that truth absolutely, because of our own imperfections and limitations. We are only children of God, not God. Therefore, we must not attempt to fit God into little boxes, claiming that He supports this or that political position. This is not only bad theology; it marginalizes God.

  • The most stupendous system of organized robbery known has been that of the church towards woman, a robbery that has not only taken her self-respect but all rights of person; the fruits of her own industry; her opportunities of education; the exercise of her judgment, her own conscience, her own will.

  • Both church and state claiming to be of divine origin have assumed divine right of man over woman; while church and state have thought for man, man has assumed the right to think for woman.

  • It has not been without bitter resistance by the clergy that woman's property and educational rights have advanced. Woman's anti-slavery work, her temperance work, her demand for personal rights, for political equality, for religious freedom and every step of kindred character has met with opposition from the church as a body and from the clergy as exponents of its views.

  • I have come to believe that all theology is autobiography ...

    • Laura Geller,
    • "Encountering the Divine Presence" (1986), in Ellen M. Umansky and Dianne Ashton, eds., Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality ()
  • A woman once said to me, 'Any religion that is to be any good to one must be one they make for themselves,' — and it is so. She, curiously, was a clergyman's wife.

    • Kate Greenaway,
    • in Marion Harry Spielmann and George Somes Layard, Kate Greenaway ()
  • There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.

  • Governments may change, and opinions, and the very appearance of lands themselves, but the slowest thing to change is religion. What has once been associated with worship becomes holy in itself, and self-perpetuating, always built upon the foundation of mingled awe and attraction which the unknown has for the mind of man.

  • Better let men continue to worship a winking doll than reverence nothing in heaven or earth.

  • Once admit the idea that it is good to lie for religion's sake, and the lie may grow to any dimensions. A little lie may serve a man, but it is hard to calculate how big an one may be wanted to serve God.

  • ... a vast Church, whose shadow has been the graveyard of religious thought for a thousand years ...

  • Religion holds a man back from the path, prevents his stepping forward, for various very plain reasons. First, it makes the vital mistake of distinguishing between good and evil.

  • Organized religion — whether Judaism, Christinity, Hinduism, or Maoism — is first of all myth and only secondly doctrine and practice. Myths, which are stories told to explain the 'why' of certain universal phenomena (for example, why the world was made, why there is evil and disease, why women can't do the same things as men), are composed of powerful images, symbols and archetypes, which find deep psychic resonances in those they affect. For this reason they are perhaps the most difficult societal constructs to change.

    • Sheila Collins,
    • "When the Veils Come Tumbling Down," in Maggie Tripp, Woman in the Year 2000 ()
  • ... unless a religion springs from within the people themselves, it is a weapon of the system.

  • Religion is like music, one must have an ear for it. Some people have none at all.

    • Charlotte Mew,
    • in Penelope Fitzgerald, Charlotte Mew and Her Friends ()
  • Unhappiness often leads to religion ...

  • ... although every organized patriarchal religion works overtime to contribute its own brand of misogyny to the myth of woman-hate, woman-fear, and woman-evil, the Roman Catholic Church also carries the immense power of very directly affecting women's lives everywhere by its stand against birth control and abortion, and by its use of skillful and wealthy lobbies to prevent legislative change. It is an obscenity — an all-male hierarchy, celibate or not, that presumes to rule on the lives and bodies of millions of women.

  • When table utensils were invented in the 1100s, the Catholic Church condemned them as obscene and heretical, claiming, 'God gave us fingers with which to eat.' And we're supposed to get politically discouraged? Oh please. We're being opposed by people who denounced the fork.

  • In every religion may be traced the arrogant faith of its own infallibility, and in the breast of every fanatic sectarian is established a secret inquisition by which the opinions of others is tried and condemned on every side. Virtue and felicity are of nature! on every side vice and misery are of man.

  • Nature has only given us desires, whose gratification is enjoyment; but society in its gradual estrangement from her dictates, engenders passions which become the scourge of those who cherish them ... religion, which is of nature, conveyed through the senses to the soul, awakening its gratitude, and commanding its adoration, becomes an incomprehensible dogma, propagated by cruelty and fanaticism; disfigured by human invention on every side, breaking the tie of human sympathy, scattering discord and disorder through nations, founding its merits upon earthly privation, and imposing its belief by eternal terrors.

  • Of theology it is dangerous to speak; but as every one will admit that whatever has been written without the pale of his own narrow sect is pernicious error; and as what every body says must be true, the reader may draw his own consequence.

  • Tolerance is thin gruel compared to the rapture of absolute truths. It's not surprising that religious people are often better protected by atheists and agnostics than each other.

  • In its more authoritarian forms, religion punishes questioning and rewards gullibility. Faith is not a function of stupidity, but a frequent cause of it.

  • Under the rubric of religious freedom, we respect the right to worship differently much more than the right to worship not at all.

  • If the Koran is the soul of Islam, then perhaps the institution of the Muslim family might be described as its body.

  • … the synagogin', the tabernaclin', the psalmin', that goes on in this hoose, that's enough to break the spirits o' ony young creature.

  • Horace Dinsmore was, like his father, an upright, moral man, who paid an outward respect to the forms of religion, but cared nothing for the vital power of godliness ...

  • ... all theology knowingly or not is by definition always engaged for or against the oppressed.

  • The idea of salvation through some one or some thing outside of ourselves came from love of inertia. We want God or his Son to save us. We thought that Hapi would give us immortality if we flattered his vanity by praying to him.

  • The three kinds of services you generally find in the Episcopal churches. I call them either low-and-lazy, broad-and-hazy, or high-and-crazy.

  • Religion is 'twixt God and my own soul, Nor saint, nor sage, can boundless thought control.

  • Male religion entombs women in sepulchres of silence in order to chant its own eternal and dreary dirge to a past that never was.

  • [On the difference between being 'spiritual' and being 'religious':] Spiritual means you believe in ghosts, but don't organize rituals around them or proselytize. Religious means that you believe in ghosts, organize rituals around them, and think everyone else should too!

  • In fact, to this very day, common sense in religion is rare, and we are too often trying to be heroic instead of just ordinarily good and kind.

    • Dorothy Day,
    • 1958, in William D. Miller, Dorothy Day: A Biography ()
  • No one can claim to be Christian who gives money for the building of warships and arsenals.

  • A religion without dogma is like a parcel tied up without string.

  • Like most Chinese, I am basically a fatalist — too sophisticated for religion and too superstitious to deny the gods.

  • I know that a creed is the shell of a lie.

  • Since he had put almost nothing into his religion at any time during his life, there was no real reason why he should have expected, suddenly in an emergency, to get something out of it.

  • God is not about religion. Religion is a structure that should house our faith in God. Too often it is used to hurt other people in God's name.

  • All religions upon the earth are necessary because there are people who need what they teach. ... Each church fulfills spiritual needs that perhaps others cannot fill. No one church can fulfill everybody's needs at every level.

  • Oh, to lie upon the rugs of some silent mosque, far from the noise of wanton city life, and, eyes closed, gaze turned heavenwards, listen to Islam's song for ever!

  • Flawed humans though we are, come Yom Kippur we have a moment to turn God's mirror on ourselves, if there is a God. Or it is a moment to think about something larger than everyday life, to contemplate obligations to other people, to regret our failures, to renounce our shallowness. ... Within all the nattering activity, this day is a silent space.

  • Every brand of religion maintains, and is, a permanent mechanism for transmitting ideas and values — whether one regards those values as admirable or ridiculous. Secularist organizations, with their generally looser, nonhierarchical structures, lack the power to hand down and disseminate their heritage in such a systematic way.

  • The greatest atrocities have always been committed in the name of and for the glory of god, and they go on to this day.

    • Simone Anter,
    • "Of god, women and Natives," Freethought Today ()
  • I learned early on that intolerance seemed to go hand in hand with a belief in god ...

    • Simone Anter,
    • "Of god, women and Natives," Freethought Today ()
  • Betrayal of any kind is hard, but betrayal by one's religion is excruciating. It makes you want to rage and weep.

  • When you consider that God could have commanded anything he wanted — anything! — the Ten [Commandments] have got to rank as one of the great missed moral opportunities of all time. How different history would have been had he clearly and unmistakably forbidden war, tyranny, taking over other people's countries, slavery, exploitation of workers, cruelty to children, wife-beating, stoning, treating women — or anyone-- as chattel or inferior beings.

  • The spirit of religious totalitarianism is abroad in the world; it is in the very air we breathe today in this land. Everywhere are those who claim to have a corner on righteousness, on direct access to God ... The bigots of the world are having a heyday.

  • The church belongs to its hierarchy, which is men in power. Those outside the hierarchy, and especially women, are at best only renters and at worst squatters in religious territory.

  • And we find from Church history that the primitive Christians thus understood it; for that women did actually speak and preach amongst them we have indisputable proof.

  • Just as it is the province of science to find out what the facts of life are, to classify them and use them to verify or discredit whatever theory may have been advanced concerning them, so it is the province of a living theology to be constantly seeking from God the wit and wisdom that will interpret anew and more truly the parable of life.

    • Lily Dougall,
    • "The Undiscovered Country," in B.H. Streeter et al., Immortality ()
  • ... when Christian theology becomes traditionalism and men fail to hold and use it as they do a living language, it becomes an obstacle, not a help to religious conviction. To the greatest of the early Fathers and the great scholastics theology was a language which, like all language, had a grammar and a vocabulary from the past, but which they used to express all the knowledge and experience of their own time as well.

    • Lily Dougall,
    • "The Undiscovered Country," in B.H. Streeter et al., Immortality ()
  • Since religion was so much a part of my life as a child, and since my childhood was so happy and so full of laughter and joy, I associate the two. Even my concept of Jesus goes along with this association of happiness and religion.

  • Most religions lay great store by repetition.

  • Every religion oppresses women. I talk about the Koran because I know this book best. It allows for torture and other mistreatment, especially for women. And I despise the Sharia laws. They cannot be changed. They must be thrown out, abolished.

  • Again, as I had often met it in my own church, I was confronted with the Impurity of Women doctrine that seemed to preoccupy all clergymen.

  • If the man may preach, because the Savior died for him, why not the woman, seeing he died for her also? Is he not a whole Savior, instead of a half one, as those who hold it wrong for a woman to preach, would seem to make it appear?

    • Jarena Lee,
    • The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee
    • ()
  • There's practically no religion that I know of that sees other people in a way that affirms the others' choices. But in our century we're forced to think about a pluralistic world.

  • Unlike many of his contemporaries among the deities of the ancient Near East, the God of Israel shared his power with no female divinity, nor was he the divine Husband or Lover of any. He can scarcely be characterized in any but masculine epithets: king, lord, master, judge, and father. Indeed, the absence of feminine symbolism for God marks Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in striking contrast to the world's other religious traditions, whether in Egypt, Babylonia, Greece and Rome, or in Africa, India, and North America, which abound in female symbolism. Jewish, Christian, and Islamic theologians today are quick to point out that God is not to be considered in sexual terms at all. Yet the actual language they use in daily worship and prayer conveys a different message: who, growing up with Jewish or Christian tradition, has escaped the distinct impression that God is masculine? And while Catholics revere Mary as the mother of Jesus, they never identify her as divine in her own right: if she is 'mother of God,' she is not 'God the Mother' on an equal footing with God the Father!

  • The church in many places is a sort of potter's field, where the gifts of woman, as so many strangers, are buried.

    • Phoebe Palmer,
    • in Mary Alice Warner and Dayna Beilenson, eds., Women of Faith and Spirit ()
  • The greatest enemy of any enlightened society, and especially of women, is the organized clergy.

  • I don't know about being a Catholic anymore, though I had a great romance with the Church. But its male hierarchy causes me pain and distress. So I can't really pay too much attention. When that encyclical from the Pope — the one about contraception — began 'Dear Sons and Brothers' I figured it must be private mail and had nothing to do with me. So I didn't read it.

  • ... while they kept the Sabbath day with pharisaical strictness, the other six days were their own. They strove for earth and sighed for heaven, and failed of enjoyment in the pursuit of either.

  • Temporary sins, eternal punishment.

    • Sherry Matulis,
    • poem title, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.

  • The origin of torture and execution in the name of religion is the certainty that your religion is true, and therefore any other religion must be false. This being so, you must regard people who profess a different religion than your own as heretics, and as inevitably damned (as Saint Augustine did). It is your religious duty to persecute them; and because their crime is against God, no cruelty is too great to use towards them. Indeed, anyone who urges mercy towards heretics is suspect himself. The evidence of history shows overwhelmingly that witches were persecuted, not because they had done harm, but because their crime was heresy. Hence the heavy involvement, from the beginning, of the Church in witchcraft trials.

    • Doreen Valiente,
    • "Torture used on witches," An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present ()
  • Religion, like water, may be free, but when they pipe it to you, you've got to help pay for the piping. And the piper.

  • A little knowledge and an over-abundance of zeal always tends to be harmful. In the area involving religious truths, it can be disastrous.

  • During the ages of faith the Church argued, not illogically, that any degree of cruelty towards sinners and heretics was justified, if there was a chance that it could save them, or others, from the eternal torments of hell. Thus, in the name of the religion of love, hundreds of thousands of people were not merely killed but atrociously tortured ...

  • And what a flurry of preparation for the Passover feast! What a chopping of fish and a simmering of soup and a baking of tsimmes and a roasting of capon and an assembling of taigloch! Grandma was in her element, humming Russian tunes, a beaming earth mother with her sleeves rolled up and her eyes shining. I did love Passover. And Grandma's observance of it was devout, but it was the domestic, the kitchen side of religion.

  • One form of religion perpetually gives way to another; if religion did not change it would be dead. ... Each time the new ideas appear they are seen at first as a deadly foe threatening to make religion perish from the earth; but in the end there is a deeper insight and a better life with ancient follies and prejudices gone.

  • In theology the conservative temper tends to formalism.

  • Kindly inform the Church of England they have loused up the most beautiful prose ever written, whoever told them to tinker with the Vulgate Latin? They'll burn for it, you mark my words.

  • Mine was a Catholic girlhood spent gorging on metaphor ... Maybe we had too much meaning too early. It was like having too much money. The quirkiness of life was betrayed, given inflated significance by our rich symbology. We powered around our ordinary lives in the Cadillac language of Catholic spirituality, looking on with pity as the Protestants pedaled their stripped-down bicycles.

  • If I were pope / I'd proclaim the end of my infallibility / and banish the word sin from the doctrines of faith / I'd ask half the bishops and cardinals / to replace themselves with a thoughtful woman / and complete their ministries in a prison or homeless shelter / If I were pope / I'd pay the mystics to write poetry all day / and have their words read at the Sunday Masses / I'd pay the prophets to upload their message / in five minute videos / for youtube viewers around the world / I'd hire a thousand displaced workers / to construct a new Sistine Chapel and cover it with mirrors / instead of male images / If I were pope / I'd announce a contest / for 10 new sacraments that celebrate / peace-making, justice, and interfaith creations. / I'd send envoys to the villages / to talk about birth control / and distribute condoms wherever they are needed. / I'd establish a tuition-free college in every country / to train young students how to think / non-violently and act ethically. / If I were pope I'd convert closed churches / to housing for the needy / and meeting places for the marginal and walking wounded / I'd buy farms in rural places / and dedicate each one to organic farming and cooperative, sustainable, community-based agriculture. / I'd convert every old Motherhouse and seminary / into a training center for spiritual activists, cultural creators / and community collaborators. / I'd auction off my skullcap, my mozetta cape and my darling red shoes / to the highest bidder and send the money to Haiti / for the construction of schools and health care centers. / I'd sell my Fisherman's Ring on ebay / and donate the proceeds to the Gulf shrimpers. / I'd trade my red and gold embroidered fascia / (the stole with the fringes) for a villa in Tuscany / and give free spa retreats to women who've served the church / for five years or more. / If I were pope, I'd throw a party at the Vatican / and invite everyone who's left the church because they didn't feel welcomed. / (The overflow crowd would be treated to weekends / at Italian vineyards.) / If I were pope, I'd announce my retirement,/ and as my last act in office, at the final party, / I'd ordain to the priesthood any woman who was ready, / marry any gay couple who wanted my blessing, / and marry any priest, male or female. / Then I'd get in my jammies, / say a prayer of gratitude, / and crawl into bed for a much needed nap.

    • Jan Phillips,
    • "If I were Pope," No Ordinary Time: The Rise of Spiritual Intelligence and Evolutionary Creativity ()
  • For many people — from secular feminists to observant Jews — the notion of a feminist Judaism is an oxymoron.

  • I am not a Jew in the synagogue and a feminist in the world. I am a Jewish feminist and a feminist Jew in every moment of my life.

  • It had occurred to me in high school that it did not make good sense for there to be only one possibility open to men. And when the Church ceased to be inevitable, it became for me irrelevant.

  • There are no theological barriers to women rabbis — only political ones.

    • Lynn Gottlieb,
    • in Susan Weidman Schneider, Jewish and Female ()
  • . . . I regard irreligious people as pioneers. If there had been no priesthood the world would have advanced ten thousand times better than it has now.

    • Anandabai Joshee,
    • letter to her aunt (1881), in Caroline Wells Healey Dall, The Life of Dr. Anandabai Joshee ()
  • And what is religion, you might ask. It's a technology of living.

  • ... the most serious obstacle to the progress of the christian religion, in all ages and under all circumstances; the contrariety between its divine principles and the conduct of its professors ...

  • If, in plain words I don't want to go to heaven ... whose business is it but my own?

    • Etta Semple,
    • in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • I don't believe in religion, for I don't see that your religious people are any better than the rest.

  • ... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham ...

  • ... all religions seem alike to me, one mass of absurdities and lies — I know that there is a God, but I know no more of him; and I believe that all those are liars who pretend to know more than I do.

  • Sex ... is the fountain of life, therefore of all power. It follows logically that if the church can control sex she controls everything.

    • Lois Waisbrooker,
    • 1909, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • In unison we rise and stand / And wish that we were sitting. / We listen to the music start, / And wish that it were quitting. / We pass our hymnal to a guest / or fake a smoker's cough; / We drop our pencils, lose our gloves, / Or take our glasses off. / We move our lips to keep in style, / Emitting awkward bleats, / And when the last 'Amen' is sung, / Sink gladly in our seats. / O Lord, who hearest every prayer / And saves us from our foes, / Deliver now Thy little flock / From hymns nobody knows.

  • Organized religious institutions are in for a huge transformation, for the simple reason that people have become genuinely religious in spite of them.

  • Our religious institutions have far too often become handmaidens of the status quo, while the genuine religious experience is anything but that. True religion is by nature disruptive of what has been, giving birth to the eternally new.

  • He's sitting there in a long black dress gathered at the yoke, and I said, 'Judge, if you won't talk about what I'm wearing, I won't talk about what you're wearing,' because it occurred to me that a judge in a skirt telling me not to wear pants was just a little bit ludicrous. It's interesting to speculate how it developed that in two of the most anti-feminist institutions, the church and the law court, the men are wearing the dresses.

  • ... a church is an interesting place once you get the parson and the people out of it. Real music can get in then, and a real God! Nothing flibertigibbet about religion then.

  • All religions are the same. Religion is basically guilt with different holidays.

  • Religion, even the most primitive and superstitious, is inevitably a beginning of culture. It is not possible without some kind of symbolic expression ... and begets dramatic gesture, dance, and chant ...

  • In every religion, you find the same extremists.

  • ... religion's for those who believe in hell and a spiritual belief is for those who've been there.


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  • If all the energy and money that have ever been put into religions (and religious wars!) had instead been directed toward the betterment of all humanity, what a world this might be today!

  • It is said that peace is the basic tenet of all religion. Yet it is in the name of religion that there has been so much disturbance, bloodshed and persecution. ... Flying the flag of religion has always proved the easiest way to crush to nothingness human beings as well as the spirit of humanity.

  • By thee, Religion, all we know / That should enlighten here below, / Is veil'd in darkness, and perplext / With anxious doubts, with endless scruples vext, / And some restraint implied from each perverted text, / Whilst touch not, taste not, what is freely given, / Is but thy niggard voice, disgracing bounteous Heaven.

    • Anne Finch,
    • "The Spleen," in Alexander Dyce, ed., Specimens of British Poetesses ()
  • What is dangerous about the far right is not that it takes religion seriously — most of us do — but rather that it condemns all other spiritual choices — the Buddhist, the Jew, the Muslim, and many others who consider themselves to be good Christians. The wall of separation between church and state is needed precisely because religion, like art, is too important a part of the human experience to be choked by the hands of censors.

    • Barbra Streisand,
    • "The Artist As Citizen," speech, Harvard University Institute of Politics ()
  • god walked into church / and was thrown out because he / seemed kind of crazy.

  • Fundamentalism, in all its forms, is 90% of the reason the world is so terrifying. 3% is the existence of snakes.

  • People who worship a single god find it difficult to imagine that their one god will not favor one people — themselves.

  • ... the love of humanity has been practised with more consistency by many so-called heathens than by most confessors of the Christian faith.

  • Religions are very bloody. They are always killing each other.

  • As everybody knows, being raised Catholic with half a brain means becoming an atheist.

  • Jesus was not killed by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix.

  • Beware those who claim to know the mind of God and who are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware those who cannot tell God's will from their own.

  • ... the born-again religious fanatics are very terrifying. It's scary, you know, when God only listens to certain people.

  • As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God.

  • I have learned to prize holy ignorance more highly than religious certainty and to seek companions who have arrived at the same place. We are a motley crew, distinguished not only by our inability to explain ourselves to those who are more certain of their beliefs than we are but in many cases by our distance from the centers of our faith communities as well.

  • A theology should be like poetry, which takes us to the end of what words and thoughts can do.

  • I think a lot of religions and spiritualities evolved as a mean for providing us with a framework to guide us in finding our internal guiding system. I don't think they were meant to be rituals but more like training wheels to be used and discarded when we found our balance. I don't think it matters what system we use as long as it serves the purpose of getting us to the point where we can find our own internal guiding system and forge our own path.