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Elizabeth Cady Stanton
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Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)
American feminist and social reformer

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton with childThe memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eight Years and More (1898), page 26

I can truly say that all the cares and anxieties, the trials and disappointments of my whole life, are light, when balanced with my sufferings in childhood and youth from the theological dogmas which I sincerely believed, and the gloom connected with everything associated with the name of religion.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quoted from Thomas S Vernon, Great Infidels, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women's emancipation.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quoted from Free Thought Magazine (Sept. 1896)

I know of no other book that so fully teaches the subjection and degradation of women.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eight Years and More (1898), page 395

Among the clergy we find our most violent enemies, those most opposed to any change in woman's position.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The whole tone of Church teaching in regard to woman is, to the last degree, contemptuous and degrading.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Free Thought magazine (November, 1896), quoted from Freedom From Religion Foundation, "What They Said About Religion" (Nontract #4)

All the men of the Old Testament were polygamists, and Christ and Paul, the central figures of the New Testament, were celibates, and condemned marriage by both precept and example.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Elizabeth Cady StantonThe Pentateuch makes woman a mere afterthought in creation; the author of sin; cursed in her maternity; a subject in marriage; and claims divine authority for this fourfold bondage, this wholesale desecration of the mothers of the race. While some admit that this invidious language of the Old Testament is disparaging to woman, they claim that the New Testament honors her. But the letters of the apostles to the churches, giving directions for the discipline of women, are equally invidious, as the following texts prove:
     "Wives, obey your husbands. If you would know anything, ask your husbands at home. Let your women keep silence in the churches, with their heads covered. Let not your women usurp authority over the man, for as Christ is the head of the church so is the man the head of the woman. Man was prior in creation, the woman was of the man, therefore shall she be in subjection to him."
     No symbols or metaphors can twist honor or dignity out of such sentiments. Here, in plain English, woman's position is as degraded as in the Old Testament.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from the pamphlet "Bible and Church Degrade Woman," Free Thought Magazine (1896), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, pp. 124-5

Well, another female child is born into the world! Last Sunday afternoon, Harriot Eaton Stanton -- oh! the little heretic thus to desecrate that holy holiday -- opened her soft blue eyes on this mundane sphere.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in "an impish letter of joy to Susan B Anthony on the arrival of her 'little heretic,' her second and last daughter, Harriot" (January 24, 1856), quoted from and citation note by Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 106

Out of the doctrine of original sin grew the crimes and miseries of asceticism, celibacy and witchcraft; woman becoming the helpless victim of all these delusions.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from Charles Q Bufe, editor, The Heretic's Handbook of Quotations: Cutting Comments on Burning Issues, quoted from James A Haught, editor, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Men can never understand the fear of everlasting punishment that fills the souls of women and children. The orthodox religion, as drawn from the Bible and expounded by the church, is enough to drive the most imaginative and sensitive natures to despair and death.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from the pamphlet "Bible and Church Degrade Woman," Free Thought Magazine (1896), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 125

How can any woman believe that a loving and merciful God would, in one breath, command Eve to multiply and replenish the earth, and in the next, pronounce a curse upon her maternity? I do not believe that God inspired the Mosaic code, or gave out the laws about women which he is accused of doing.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

When women understand that governments and religions are human inventions; that bibles, prayer-books, catechisms, and encyclical letters are all emanations from the brain of man, they will no longer be oppressed by the injunctions that come to them with the divine authority of "thus saith the Lord."
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quoted from Thomas S Vernon, Great Infidels, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

We found nothing grand in the history of the Jews nor in the morals inculcated in the Pentateuch.... I know of no other books that so fully teach the subjection and degradation of woman.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eight Years and More, ch. 24 (1898), page 395

The religious superstitions of women perpetuate their bondage more than all other adverse influences.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from Laird Wilcox and John George, eds., Be Reasonable: Selected Quotations for Inquiring Minds, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The happiest people I have known have been those who gave themselves no concern about their own souls, but did their uttermost to mitigate the miseries of others.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quoted from Dr. Mynga Futrell, "The Ladies Clamor for Change"

I often saw weary little women coming to the table after most exhausting labors, and large, bumptious husbands spreading out their hands and thanking the Lord for the meals that the dear women had prepared, as if the whole came down like manna from heaven. So I preached a sermon in the blessing I gave. You will notice that it has three heresies in it: "Heavenly Father and Mother, make us thankful for all the blessings of this life, and make us ever mindful of the patient hands that oft in weariness spread our tables and prepare our daily food. For humanity's sake, Amen."
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, upon overcoming her discomfort over being asked to say "grace," Stanton began using the opportunity to preach equality, while traveling under frontier conditions as a suffrage organizer and on the Lyceum circuit, lecturing for as many as five consecutive months a year for more than a decade, in Alma Lutz, Created Equal (1940), page 201, quoted from and citation notes by Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 106

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 an unknown god.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from her diary, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

For years many a thinking people have had gloomy forebodings as to the result of the immense power of the church in our political affairs.... And the first step in the disestablishment of the church & of all churches is the taxation of church property. The government has no right to tax infidels for everything that takes the name of religion. For every dollar of church property untaxed, all other properties must be taxed one dollar more, and thus the poor man's home bears the burden of maintaining costly edifices from which he & his family are as effectively excluded -- as though a policeman stood to bar their entrance, and in smaller towns all sects are building, building, building, not a little town in the western prairies but has its three & four churches & this immense accumulation of wealth is all exempt from taxation. In the new world as well as the old these rich ecclesiastical corporations are a heavy load on the shoulders of the people, for what wealth escapes, the laboring masses are compelled to meet. If all the church property in this country were taxed, in the same ratio poor widows are to day, we could soon roll off the national debt....
     The clergy of all sects are universally opposed to free thought & free speech, & if they had the power even in our republic to day would crush any man who dared to question the popular religion.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, unidentified lecture fragment about taxation of church property (1877?), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, pp. 141-2

I found in this new friend a woman emancipated from all faith in manmade creeds, from all fear of his denunciations. Nothing was too sacred for her to question, as to its rightfulness in principle and practice.... It seemed to me like meeting a being from some larger planet, to find a woman who dared to question the opinions of Popes, Kings, Synods, Parliaments, with the same freedom that she would criticize an editorial in the London Times, recognizing no higher authority than the judgment of a pure-minded educated woman. When I first heard from the lips of Lucretia Mott that I had the same right to think for myself that Luther, Calvin, and John Knox had, and the same right to be guided by my own convictions, and would no doubt live a higher, happier life than if guided by theirs, it was like suddenly coming into the rays of the noon-day sun, after wandering with a rushlight in the caves the earth.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "I Had the Same Right to Think," quoted from The History of Woman Suffrage, volume I, page 422

I have endeavoured to dissipate these religious superstitions from the minds of women, and base their faith on science and reason, where I found for myself at last that peace and comfort I could never find in the Bible and the church.... The less they believe, the better for their own happiness and development....
     For fifty years the women of this nation have tried to dam up this deadly stream that poisons all their lives, but thus far they have lacked the insight or courage to follow it back to its source and there strike the blow at the fountain of all tyranny, religious superstition, priestly power, and the canon law.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "The Degraded Status of Woman in the Bible" (1896), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 103

Women are afraid. It is unpopular to question the bible. They are creatures of tradition. They fear to question their position in the testament, as they feared to advocate suffrage fifty years ago. Now they are quarreling as to which were among the first to advocate it.
     You see they are not used to abuse as I am. In Albany, fifty years ago, when I went before the legislature to plead for a married woman's right to her own property, the women whom I met in society crossed the street rather than speak to me.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Interview, Chicago Record (June 29, 1897), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 105

These teachings in regard to woman so faithfully reflect the provisions of the canon law that it is fair to infer that their inspiration came from the same source, written by men, translated by men, revised by men. If the Bible is to be placed in the hands of our children, read in our schools, taught in our theological seminaries, proclaimed as God’s law in our temples of worship, let us by all means call a council of women in New York, and give it one more revision from the woman’s standpoint.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quoted from Dr. Mynga Futrell, "The Ladies Clamor for Change"

It is through the perversion of the religious element in woman, playing upon her hopes and fears of the future, holding this life with all its high duties in abeyance to that which is to come, that she and the children she has trained have been so completely subjugated by priestcraft and superstition.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quoted from Dr. Mynga Futrell, "The Ladies Clamor for Change"

As women are taking an active part in pressing on the consideration of Congress many narrow sectarian measures, such as more rigid Sunday laws, the stopping of travel, the distribution of the mail on that day, and the introduction of the name of God into the Constitution; and as this action on the part of some women is used as an argument for the disfranchisement of all, I hope this convention will declare that the Woman Suffrage Association is opposed to all union of Church and State, and pledges itself as far as possible to maintain the secular nature of our Government.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, warning suffragists not to capitalize on Frances Willard's suffrage help through the Women's Christian Temperance Union, at her opening speech at the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention of 1890, from The History of Woman Suffrage, volume iv, page 166, quoted from and citation notes by Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 110

Elizabeth Cady StantonThe Bible teaches that woman brought sin and death into the world, that she precipitated the fall of the race, that she was arraigned before the judgment seat of Heaven, tried, condemned and sentenced. Marriage for her was to be a condition of bondage, maternity a period of suffering and anguish, and in silence and subjection, she was to play the role of a dependent on man's bounty for all her material wants, and for all the information she might desire.... Here is the Bible position of woman briefly summed up.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Introduction, The Women's Bible

Whatever oppressions man has suffered, they have invariably fallen more heavily on woman. Whatever new liberties advancing civilization has brought to man, ever the smallest measure has been accorded to woman, as a result of church teaching. The effect of this is seen in every department of life.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quoted from Dr. Mynga Futrell, "The Ladies Clamor for Change"

One remarkable fact stands out in the history of witchcraft; and that is, its victims were chiefly women. Scarce one wizard to a hundred witches was ever burned or tortured.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "The Christian Church and Woman," from the Index, Boston, ca. 1888. This is a version of "Woman's Position in the Christian Church," a sermon originally delivered in Moncure D Conway's Pulpit, South Place Chapel, London, September 1882. A longer version appeared in The Boston Investigator, May 18, 1901. A slightly shorter version was included in the pamphlet "Bible and Church Degrade Woman," quoted from and citation notes by Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 116

All through the centuries, scholars and scientists have been imprisoned, tortured and burned alive for some discovery which seemed to conflict with a petty text of Scripture. Surely the immutable laws of the universe can teach more impressive and exalted lessons than the holy books of all the religions on earth.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quoted from Thomas S Vernon, Great Infidels, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

I can say that the happiest period of my life has been since I emerged from the shadows and superstitions of the old theologies, relieved from all gloomy apprehensions of the future, satisfied that as my labors and capacities were limited to this sphere of action, I was responsible for nothing beyond my horizon, as I could neither understand nor change the condition of the unknown world. Giving ourselves, then, no trouble about the future, let us make the most of the present, and fill up our lives with earnest work here.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from "The Pleasures of Age," published by The Boston Investigator (February 2, 1901), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 111

How anyone, in view of the protracted sufferings of the race, can invest the laws of the universe with a tender loving fatherly intelligence, watching, guiding and protecting humanity, is to me amazing.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, letter to Henry Stanton (August 2, 1880), quoted from from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

A very wise father once remarked, that in the government of his children, he forbid as few things as possible; a wise legislature would do the same. It is folly to make laws on subjects beyond human prerogative, knowing that in the very nature of things they must be set aside. To make laws that man cannot and will not obey, serves to bring all law into contempt. It is very important in a republic, that the people should respect the laws, for if we throw them to the winds, what becomes of civil government?
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, manuscript for an address of May 15, 1860(?), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 133

Only those who have lived all their lives under the dark clouds of vague, undefined fears can appreciate the joy of a doubting soul suddenly born into the kingdom of reason and free thought. Is the bondage of the priest-ridden less galling than that of the slave, because we do not see the chains, the indelible scars, the festering wounds, the deep degradation of all the powers of the God-like mind?
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1860, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

It is often asserted that woman owes all the advantages of the position she occupies to-day to Christianity, but the facts of history show that the Christian Church has done nothing specifically for woman's elevation. In the general march of civilization, she has necessarily reaped the advantage of man's higher development, but we must not claim for Christianity all that has been achieved by science, discovery and invention.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "The Christian Church and Woman," from the Index, Boston, ca. 1888. This is a version of "Woman's Position in the Christian Church," a sermon originally delivered in Moncure D Conway's Pulpit, South Place Chapel, London, September 1882. A longer version appeared in The Boston Investigator, May 18, 1901. A slightly shorter version was included in the pamphlet "Bible and Church Degrade Woman," quoted from and citation notes by Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 113

To no form of religion is woman indebted for one impulse of freedom, as all alike have taught her inferiority and subjection.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quoted from James A Haught, ed, 2000 Years of Disbelief

The happiest people I have known have been those who gave themselves no concern about their own souls, but did their uttermost to mitigate the miseries of others.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in her autobiography, Eighty Years, page 385, quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 111

I decline to accept Hebrew mythology as a guide to twentieth-century science.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from Rufus K Noyes, Views of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, editor, 2000 Years of Disbelief

Embrace truth as it is revealed to-day by human reason.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from "An Answer to Bishop Stevens," the last article Elizabeth wrote before her death, from New York American & Journal (October 27, 1902), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 111

Short Graphic Rule

Stanton, Anthony, Gage: Shameful Assault

Throughout this protracted and disgraceful assault on American womanhood, the clergy baptized each new insult and act of injustice in the name of the Christian religion, and uniformly asked God's blessing on proceedings that would have put to shame an assembly of Hottentots.
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, a statement "for the betterment of woman" signed by the three, quoted from James A Haught, editor, 2000 Years of Disbelief

 

Short Graphic Rule

Helen Gardner: Worked for Here and Now

First of all, she wished it known that she died, as she had lived, a fearless, serene agnostic. Her philosophy kept her sane and sweet. No fear for her soul, no dread of any future life, prevented her from using all of her splendid energies to better conditions in this world. She worked for the welfare of the race, here and now, and believed that any possible world could and would take care of itself.
-- Helen Gardner, at Elizabeth's memorial at the "Friends Meeting House" in Washington, DC, from Free Thought Magazine, Chicago, Illinois (January 1903), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Women Without Superstition, page 111

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