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Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
Anglo-American political philosopher, whose writings influenced the American Revolution (1775-1783), the French Revolution (1789-1799), and freethought movements ever since; but, unfortunately, Paine could not awaken the Americans to the destruction that was their love affair with the biblical institution of human slavery until after Abraham Lincoln had read Paine's writings as a young man, and had thus been duly inspired to struggle for change

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Thomas PaineToleration is not the opposite of intolerance but the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms: the one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

[Excerpt]
He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression.
-- Thomas Paine, Dissertations on First Principles of Government (July 7, 1795), as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine

[Passage]
An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
-- Thomas Paine, Dissertations on First Principles of Government (July 7, 1795), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, The Writer's Rights (2002) p. 31

It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794)

I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies another this right makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, The Writer's Rights (2002) p. 31

Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

The circumstances of the world are continually changing, and the opinions of men change also; and as government is for the living, and not for the dead, it is the living only that has any right in it. That which may be thought right and found convenient in one age, may be thought wrong and found inconvenient in another. In such cases, who is to decide, the living, or the dead?
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

Customs will often outlive the remembrance of their origin.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

[Excerpt]:
A man will pass better through the world with a thousand open errors upon his back than in being detected in one sly falsehood. When one is detected, a thousand are suspected.
-- Thomas Paine, in his letter to George Washington (30 July 1796) discussing Paine's service to America, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

[Passage]:
The character which Mr. Washington has attempted to act in the world is a sort of nondescribable, chameleon-colored thing called prudence. It is, in many cases, a substitute for principle, and is so nearly allied to hypocrisy that it easily slides into it. His genius for prudence furnished him in this instance with an expedient that served, as is the natural and general character of all expedients, to diminish the embarrassments of the moment and multiply them afterwards; for he authorized it to be made known to the French Government, as a confidential matter (Mr. Washington should recollect that I was a member of the Convention, and had the means of knowing what I here state), he authorized it, I say, to be announced, and that for the purpose of preventing any uneasiness to France on the score of Mr. Jay's mission to England, that the object of that mission, and of Mr. Jay's authority, was restricted to that of demanding the surrender of the western posts, and indemnification for the cargoes captured in American vessels.
     Mr. Washington knows that this was untrue; and knowing this, he had good reason to himself for refusing to furnish the House of Representatives with copies of the instructions given to Jay, as he might suspect, among other things, that he should also be called upon for copies of instructions given to other Ministers, and that, in the contradiction of instructions, his want of integrity would be detected. Mr. Washington may now, perhaps, learn, when it is too late to be of any use to him, that a man will pass better through the world with a thousand open errors upon his back than in being detected in one sly falsehood. When one is detected, a thousand are suspected.
-- Thomas Paine, in his letter to George Washington (30 July 1796) discussing Paine's service to America, as excerpted from Daniel Edwin Wheeler, ed, Life and Writings of Thomas Paine (Independence Edition: 1908)

Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man: Being An Answer To Mr. Burke's Attack On The French Revolution, Part the First, Conclusion

When an objection cannot be made formidable, there is some policy in trying to make it frightful; and to substitute the yell and the war-whoop, in the place of reason, argument and good order.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel (for Nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for the honor and happiness of its character, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead.
-- Thomas Paine, The Crisis

Thomas PaineThe countries the most famous and the most respected of antiquity are those which distinguished themselves by promoting and patronizing science, and on the contrary those which neglected or discouraged it are universally denominated rude and barbarous. The patronage which Britain has shown to Arts, Science and Literature has given her a better established and lasting rank in the world than she ever acquired by her arms. And Russia is a modern instance of the effect which the encouragement of those things produces both as to the internal improvement of a country and the character it raises abroad. The reign of Louis the fourteenth is more distinguished by being the Era of Science and Literature in France than by any other circumstance of those days.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791

As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, The Writer's Rights (2002) p. 31

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
-- Thomas Paine, (1737-1809), The Age of Reason, pt. 1, "The Author's Profession of Faith" (1794), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

There is scarcely any part of science, or anything in nature, which those imposters and blasphemers of science, called priests, as well Christians as Jews, have not, at some time or other, perverted, or sought to pervert to the purpose of superstition and falsehood.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on nothing; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing and admits of no conclusion.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1793-5), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

Everything wonderful in appearance has been ascribed to angels, to devils, or to saints. Everything ancient has some legendary tale annexed to it. The common operations of nature have not escaped their practice of corrupting everything.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

What is it the New Testament teaches us? To believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794)

The Bible: a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalise mankind.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1793-5), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

The Bible is a book that has been read more, and examined less, than any book that ever existed.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

Priests and conjurors are of the same trade.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1793), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

The story of the redemption will not stand examination. That man should redeem himself from the sin of eating an apple by committing a murder on Jesus Christ, is the strangest system of religion ever set up.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

The Church was resolved to have a New Testament, and as, after the lapse of more than three hundred years, no handwriting could be proved or disproved, the Church, which like former impostors had then gotten possession of the State, had everything its own way. It invented creeds, such as that called the Apostle's Creed, the Nicean Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and out of the loads of rubbish that were presented it voted four to be Gospels, and others to be Epistles, as we now find them arranged.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon that the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794)

As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of atheism -- a sort of religious denial of God. It professed to believe in man rather than in God. It is as near to atheism as twilight to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious or irreligious eclipse of the light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794)

The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations), also found inVictor J Stenger, Has Science Found God? (2001)

Yet this is trash that the Church imposes upon the world as the Word of God; this is the collection of lies and contradictions called the Holy Bible! this is the rubbish called Revealed Religion!
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of a universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of willful alteration, are of themselves evidences that the human language, whether in speech or in print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God. The Word of God exists in something else.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

The American constitutions were to liberty, what a grammar is to language: they define its parts of speech and practically construct them into syntax.
-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791), thanks to Laird Wilcox, ed, The Writer's Rights (2002) p. 31

I am sensible that he who means to do mankind a real service must set down with the determination of putting up, and bearing with all their faults, follies, prejudices and mistakes until he can convince them that he is right.
-- Thomas Paine, as quoted by Joseph Lewis in Inspiration and Wisdom from the Writings of Thomas Paine (which contains no pagination or source citations)

The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related, that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous, and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Part ii. (Probably this is the original of Napoleon's celebrated mot, "Du sublime au ridicule il n'y a qu'un pas" [From the sublime to the ridiculous there is but one step]. -- Bartlett's Familiar Quotations Online.)

Short Graphic Rule

President Andrew Jackson:

"Thomas Paine needs no monument made with hands; he has erected a monument in the hearts of all lovers of liberty."
-- President Andrew Jackson, quoted by Robert Green Ingersoll, "Thomas Paine" (North American Review, August, 1892)
 

Robert Ingersoll:

"Had he been willing to live a hypocrite, he would have been respectable, he at least could have died surrounded by other hypocrites, and at his death there would have been an imposing funeral, with miles of carriages, filled with hypocrites, and above his hypocritical dust there would have been a hypocritical monument covered with lies."
-- Robert Green Ingersoll on Thomas Paine, in "Our Infidels"
 

President James Monroe:

"The crime of ingratitude has not yet stained, and I trust never will stain, our national character. You are considered by them as not only having rendered important service in our own revolution, but as being, on a more extended scale, the friend of human rights, and able advocate of public liberty. To the welfare of Thomas Paine, the Americas are not, nor can they be, indifferent."
-- James Monroe, then Ambassador to France, upon the recall of Governeur Morris, who, through callous neglect, allowed Paine to languish in the French prison for nine months, in a letter to Paine, written to Paine while he was yet in prison upon Monroe's arrival to France, quoted from Joseph Lewis, "Thomas Paine and The Age of Reason"

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