Thomas Paine, in The Age of Reason, on religious revelations

It's about this bogus claim that rabid preachers make that the USA grants freedom OF religion but NOT freedom FROM religion. Of course it does, and the man who NAMED our country the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA made that clear. The man who turned over his royalties from Common Sense and Rights of Man to pay for the revolution, the man who SHAMED the disheartened soldiers at Valley Forge with his pamphlet The Crisis* to hang in and have faith that they could prevail, and still is quoted today for the same reasons, whether good or ill.

*From The Crisis:

December 23, 1776 THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated...


From The Age of Reason

" ... Revelation. when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man.

"... admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other; and consequently, they are not obliged to believe it.

"It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call any thing a revelation that comes to us second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited tothe first communication. After this, it is only an account of something that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent upon me to believe it in the same manner, for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.

"When Moses told the children of israel that he received the two tables of the commandments from the hand of God, they were not obliged to believe him, because they had no other authority for it than his telling them so; and I have no other authority for it than some historian telling me so...

"When I am told that the Koran was written in heaven, and brought to Mahomet by an angel, the account comes near to the same kind of hearsay evidence, and second hand authority, as the former. I did not see the angel myself, and therefore I have a right to not believe it.

"WHen I am also told that a woman, called the Virgin Mary, said, or gave out, that she was with child without any cohabitation with a man, and that her betrothed husband, Joseph, said, that an angel told him so, I have a right to believe them or not; such a circumstance required a much stronger evidence than their bare word for it: but we have not even this; for neither Joseph nor Mary wrote any such matter themselves. It is reported by others that they said so. It is hearsay upon hearsay, and I do not chuse to rest my belief upon such evidence..."

(complete text and introduction at the link).


To this I add my own insight -- when a man or woman who claims communication with an Almighty God is telling obvious lies, trying to pretend that neither Paine, nor Jefferson, nor Franklin, nor any others allowed that a person who wished to have no traffic with a religion, had a definite right to do so -- i.e., to be free FROM religion -- then, as in court, if you perceive the witness to be telling ONE LIE, you can assume that EVERYTHING BEING SAID BY THAT PERSON IS A LIE, so don't walk -- run.

And when that same person is insisting that you give money because of that special relationship with some God, then I suggest you try to run even faster.

(I realize that many of these people may be taking someone else's word for it, relying on hearsay and passing along the lie, but ignorance doesn't justify lying. It just means that person is not only a dishonest, but lazy and stupid, too.

(By the way, Jefferson wrote the original statue separating church and state for Virginia, and his aim was to prevent the STATE from interfering with the teachings of the CHURCH. A word to the wise -- if you bind your religious stories to the government, you may find that someday, that government binds its stories to your church. For example, if Roe v Wade is overturned, as when the government says it has a legitimate interest in the fetus, well then, that legitimate interest might someday make certain abortions mandatory. When you dine with the devil, better use a long spoon.)


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