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Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
French philosopher, social and political theorist, musician, botanist, and one of the most eloquent writers of the Age of Enlightenment

Painting of RousseauThe less reasonable a cult is, the more men seek to establish it by force.
-- Jean Jacques Rousseau, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief, p. 72

Christ preaches only servitude and dependence.... True Christians are made to be slaves.
-- Jean Jacques Rousseau, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p.295

All kinds of frankness and honesty are terrible crimes in the eyes of society.
-- Jean Jacques Rousseau, (attributed: source unknown)

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Rev Heinrich Rower

We are all acquainted with the fact that in their mythological legends the Greeks and the Romans and other nations of antiquity speak of certain persons as the sons of the gods. An example of this is Hercules, the Greek hero who is the son of Jupiter and an earthly mother.... All those men who performed greater deeds than those which human beings usually do are regarded by antiquity as of divine origin. This Greek and heathen notion has been applied to the New Testament and churchly conception of the person of Jesus. We must remember that at the time when Christianity sprang into evidence, Greek culture and Greek religion spread over the whole world. It is accordingly nothing remarkable that the Christians took from the heathens the highest religious conceptions that they possessed, and transferred them to Jesus. They accordingly called him the son of God, and declared that he had been supernaturally born of a virgin. This is the Greek and heathen influence which has determined the character of the account given by Matthew and Luke concerning the birth of Jesus.
-- Rev Heinrich Rower, quoted from John E Remsberg, The Christ, p. 394

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Anne Newport Royall (1769-1854)
Early State-Church Separationist

Check our Big List of Anne Newport Royall Quotations

In all countries, and in all ages, from the Druids down to brother Beecher, priests have aimed at universal power.
-- Anne Newport Royall, "Missionaries," Black Book, Volume III (1829), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, p. 28

Fanaticism and bigotry require any food but common sense and reason, which would break the charm of those spellbound fanatics.
-- Anne Newport Royall, "Missionaries," Black Book, Volume III (1829), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, p. 29

These bible people remind me of another calamity similar to this missionary scheme, when our people, or any christian power would go to Africa for the pious purpose of kidnapping negroes, the mother would cry out to her children "run, run, the christians are coming," so when ever you hear "bibles," run for your life, if you do not want your pockets picked, or to be insulted and slandered as I was.... and if you hear "hopeful conversions" or the "gospel," don't stop to look behind you.
-- Anne Newport Royall, "Missionaries," Black Book, Volume III (1829), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, p. 29

I find that the whole weight of relieving human misery and distress falls on the shoulders of those Heretics and Infidels; and though great part of this distress has been occasioned by those ravening wolves' hopeful converts.
-- Anne Newport Royall, "Missionaries," Black Book, Volume III (1829), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, p. 29

The late proceedings of those daring invaders to establish a national religion have opened the eyes of all lovers of liberty and religion.... I have been told they have thrown off the mask and are preaching to the people to elect none but godly men to represent them in the General and State Legislatures; ... what they mean by godly people, is people of their own stamp...
-- Anne Newport Royall, "Missionaries," Black Book, Volume III (1829), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, p. 27

[Like] a pestilence [they] cover the land; not to scatter blessings amongst the distressed, root out ignorance, ... or diffuse the lights of knowledge, to ennoble the age, or amend mankind; not to break the chains of slavery,or teach man his religious or political duties, or cultivate the arts and sciences, no; quite the reverse. Their object and their interest is to plunge mankind into ignorance, to make him a bigot, a fanatic, a hypocrite, a heathen, to hate every sect but his own, (the orthodox,) to shut his eyes against the truth, harden his heart against the distress of his fellow man, and purchase heaven by money.
-- Anne Newport Royall, "Missionaries," Black Book, Volume III (1829), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor, Women Without Superstition, p. 28

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Edward Royle
Historian

Logically, this kind of atheism did not prove that there was no God.... On the contrary, Southwell was typical in placing the onus probandi on those who affirmed the existence of God and Holyoake regarded himself as an atheist only in his inability to believe what the churches would have him believe. They were content to show that the Christian concept of the supernatural was meaningless, that the arguments in its favor were illogical, and that the mysteries of the universe, insofar as they were explicable, could be accounted for in material terms.
-- Edward Royle, describing the "weak" atheism of Carlile, Southwell, Cooper, Holyoake, and other nineteenth-century atheists, in Victorian Infidels (Manchester, 1974), quoted from George H Smith, "Defining Atheism," in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and other Heresies

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Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie (1921-2000)
British ecclesiastic, Archbishop of Canterbury

Rt. Rev. Robert RuncieWithout centuries of Christian antisemitism, Hitler's passionate hatred would never have been so fervently echoed.
-- Robert Runcie, Daily Telegraph (London, 10 Nov. 1988), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

Those who dare to interpret God's will must never claim Him as an asset for one nation or group rather than another. War springs from the love and loyalty which should be offered to God being applied to some God substitute, one of the most dangerous being nationalism.
-- Robert Runcie, sermon, 26 July 1982, at the Falkland Islands Thanksgiving Service, St Paul's Cathedral, London, quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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Salman Rushdie (b. 1947)
British novelist of Indian descent, whose book The Satanic Verses (1988) was banned in several Islamic countries

Salman RushdieThe idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas -- uncertainty, progress, change -- into crimes.
-- Salman Rushdie, "Is Nothing Sacred?," the Herbert Reade Memorial Lecture, 6 February 1990, quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

I don't think there is a need for an entity like God in my life.
-- Salman Rushdie, from an interview with David Frost

Free societies ... are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence.
-- Salman Rushdie, quoted from Floyd College, Rome, Georgia, "Banned Books -- Quotes"

We who have grown up on a diet of honour and shame can still grasp what must seem unthinkable to people living in the aftermath of the death of God and of tragedy: that men will sacrifice their dearest love on the implacable altars of their pride.
-- Salman Rushdie, Shame (1983), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

Of course this is "about Islam." The question is, what exactly does that mean? After all, most religious belief isn't very theological. Most Muslims are not profound Koranic analysts. For a vast number of "believing" Muslim men, "Islam" stands, in a jumbled, half-examined way, not only for the fear of God -- the fear more than the love, one suspects -- but also for a cluster of customs, opinions and prejudices that include their dietary practices; the sequestration or near-sequestration of "their" women; the sermons delivered by their mullahs of choice; a loathing of modern society in general, riddled as it is with music, godlessness and sex; and a more particularized loathing (and fear) of the prospect that their own immediate surroundings could be taken over -- "Westoxicated" -- by the liberal Western-style way of life.
-- Salman Rushdie, "Yes, This Is About Islam" (November, 2001)

... If Islam is to be reconciled with modernity, these voices must be encouraged until they swell into a roar. Many of them speak of another Islam, their personal, private faith.
     The restoration of religion to the sphere of the personal, its depoliticization, is the nettle that all Muslim societies must grasp in order to become modern....
-- Salman Rushdie, "Yes, This Is About Islam" (November, 2001)

If Woody Allen were a Muslim, he'd be dead by now.
-- Salman Rushdie, Indian-born British author, quoted in: Independent (London, 18 February 1989), quoted from The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations

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John Ruskin (1819-1900)
English philosopher and artist

Painting by Ruskin (in lieu of a portrait of him)I know few Christians so convinced of the splendor of the rooms in their Father's house, as to be happier when their friends are called to those mansions.... Nor has the Church's ardent "desire to depart, and be with Christ," ever cured it of the singular habit of putting on mourning for every person summoned to such departure.
-- John Ruskin, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Surely our clergy need not be surprised at the daily increasing distrust in the public mind of the efficacy of prayer.
-- John Ruskin, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Morality does not depend on religion.
-- John Ruskin, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

I never yet met with a Christian whose heart was thoroughly set upon the world to come, and, so far as human judgment could pronounce, perfect and right before God, who cared about art at all.
-- The Stones of Venice (1853), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Incidents from the Iliad and the Exodus come within the same degrees of credibility.
-- from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

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Bertrand Arthur William Russell [Third Earl Russell] (1872-1970)
British philosopher, mathematician, social critic, writer

Bertrand RussellMy conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true. Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.
-- Bertrand Russell, "Is There a God?" commissioned by, but never published in, Illustrated Magazine (1952: repr. The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, Volume 11: Last Philosophical Testament, 1943-68, ed. John G Slater and Peter Köllner (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 543-48, quoted from S T Joshi, Atheism: A Reader

One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it.
-- Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian," Little Blue Book No. 1372 edited by E Haldeman-Julius.

The essence of the liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. This is the way opinions are held in science, as opposed to the way in which they are held in theology.
-- Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays, "Philosophy and Politics" (1950), p. 149, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race.
-- Bertrand Russell, "Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?"

There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dares not face this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not rational, he becomes furious when they are disputed.
-- Bertrand Russell, Human Society in Ethics and Politics (1954), quoted from James A Haught, "Breaking the Last Taboo" (1996)

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
-- Bertrand Russell, "Christian Ethics" from Marriage and Morals (1950), quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.
-- Bertrand Russell, The History of Western Philosophy, quoted from Lee Eisler, ed, The Quotable Bertrand Russell

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