Thomas PaineThomas Paine, (1737-1809) US Founding father, pamphleteer, author

Thomas Paine Quote

“Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.”

Thomas PaineThomas Paine
~ Thomas Paine

Ratings and Comments

Jim k, Austin

Amen !!! Just take a look at Islam.

Ronw13, Yachats Or

Here in the USA, tyranny within Christian religious denominations cloud the minds form understanding Their Liberty and Freedom. Miss-guiding the faithful constituent from their God given unalienable rights. faith, the most powerful thing in the universe and the ability of some to sway it, for the sake of plunder and security. democracy is a loathsome thing, to often used in propping up Threskeia religions. This can be said for all such types around the world.

observant person

You are aware that this is not what is at the email today?

observant person

"SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one ..."
-- Thomas Paine
(1737-1809) US Founding father, pamphleteer, author
Source: Common Sense, February 14, 1776

E Archer, NYC

Tyranny in religion is generally a theocracy. A monarchical universe under 'the LORD' does seem incompatible with liberty and a republican form of government. When people start speaking for 'the LORD' or Allah or any deity, especially in judgement of the 'sinners,' 'heathen,' or 'infidels,' there is no better example of the foundation of tyranny. I still find it incongruous that the majority of the world's conflicts are still over whose God/Prophet is real under which all humankind is beholden to the leaders of the religious order. Blecch! I think 9,000 years of this nonsense is enough.

Ronw13, Yachats Or

Archer there is a God, some of our Founding Fathers know him well !! He, OUR CREATOR IS NOT INCOMPATIBLE ! But all encompassing. 360 degrees. every knee shall bow. Whether you like it or not. Without God we are at the whims of man ! Intervention !

Mike, Norwalk

Religion is: a sacrosanct object of conscience (an ethic(s), a moral(s), a value (system) or an orientation of correctness / enlightenment) believed sufficiently conventional as to enable an attributable action(s). Religion's initiating elements of conscience, through fruition of action, encompasses self obligated pursuits, imperative practices and devoted interests. When such enabling fundamentals are drawn upon or referenced as authority, power, reason or logic to exert specific actions (ordinances, rules, a mandated action, etc.), a formal religion is established. A god, causation or other relegated source of such enabling elements may or may not be instrumental (or even useful) in defining religion.

Religion is: real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men. (Bouviers Law Dictionary) This definition's focus is on real piety in practice - and - the performance of all known duties - again, a sacrosanct object of conscience believed sufficiently conventional as to enable attributable actions. Webster's New World Dictionary - Fourth College Edition uses a slightly different vantage on Bouviers fellow men by stating, Religion is: a) any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy [the Christian religion, the Buddhist religion, etc.] b) any system of beliefs, practices, ethical values, etc. resembling, suggestive of, or likened to such a system [humanism as a religion] ⋯ any object of conscientious regard and pursuit.

Christianity, in and of itself is not a religion; it is only a belief one Jesus was the Son of God. It is when an individual acts on the life or teachings of Jesus through a sacrosanct object of conscience (an ethic(s), a moral(s), a value (system) or an orientation of correctness / enlightenment) does Christianity become a religion. The same is true of Atheism, Humanism, Buddhism, Islam, Sex, Socialism, Progressivism, etc. By way of example, when the black robbed high priests of the National Establishment of Religion (the Supreme Court) mandate the religious sacrament of marriage to be performed by all religions according to the official dogma on sex the presence of a theocracy's religion is made clear. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, financing the impoverished and caring for the sick are all aspects of religion (NOT a Constitutional government of law).

E Archer, NYC

When allegories are treated as fact, and all must follow or suffer the machinations of the believers, there is tyranny. I do not presume to understand the workings of heaven. The word 'God' connotes many different things to different people -- if God can be defined, he can be believed or not believed, but it matters not what I believe, what is true is true no matter what I believe. In the search for truth, the first discoveries are the veils and deceptions that are propped up for the purpose of enslaving the mind and thus the will. What courage it truly takes to face reality. The Christian allegory has tremendous wisdom and liberating power, but when the Council of Nicea's declaration became 'law', true Christianity was enslaved yet again by an 'anti-Christ.' "And they will know we are Christians by our love," sings the choir -- imagine practicing such an ideology for its own sake without hope or expectation of 'divine' favor or metaphysical friends. One might actually 'get' it...

Mike, Norwalk

Archer, very well said.

Paine's 'The Age of Reason' (where this quote comes from), was written in a dark part of Paine's life. He had been denied political position, sensed social rejection and begun to drink to excess. He became very cynical of what he perceived was the foundation of his colleges ideologues and premise of his contemporaries body politic administration. Though some of what he wrote had a certain sting of truth, it did not rise to the inspiration of his earlier writings or pamphlets (Common Sense, for example). His life's decline continued, even after his move to France.

The converse of Paine’s here quote is at the very least equally accurate. Of all liberties that affect mankind, religion is the best or most influential. "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men & citizens." (George Washington, Farewell Address - 1796)

E Archer, NYC

The word 'religion' is so broad that the actual principles that found the religion are often neglected. All religions are not equal. Roman Catholicism has undergone several reforms, and those reformations have had their own reformations. People will fight to the death for their religion even at the expense of its precepts.

What is the morality of Christianity? What is the morality of Islam? What is the morality of Hinduism or Buddhism? This of course assuming that one has a choice to inquire, to believe, and to express that belief -- or to reject it.

Is there such a person as an honorable atheist? Can a non-believer do good, tell the truth, and have a heart? The judging of others is the trademark of a religionist, often followed by condemnation. Compassion is exercised for the purposes of enrollment, but once that fails, the heathens are considered sub-par.

I reject the assertion that without religion I would not care about others -- every religious order I have been introduced to in fact promotes division and submissiveness, very little true love or compassion.

Once Paine started writing about religion, especially Christianity, the religious 'right' turned on him, and after his death when he was no longer able to speak for himself, others tried to sully his reputation and discredit him. But the truth cannot be destroyed simply because it is inconvenient. Being called a drunk is an example -- heck, over half of the Continental Congress was inebriated IN SESSION. To call him a drunk because that is what others have said of him doesn't change one iota his writings -- the only complaint of his writings was the expose of the mythological meaning and practices of Christianity. For that he was called a drunken fool.

You could call Paine a Deist, as were also Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and Washington. Those that call themselves Christian should not be so quick to lump together all believers of Divine Providence as also Christians. I do believe if it were possible to poll all believers of God that their actual beliefs and practice are more Deism than Christianity.

Let's spell it out: Love, Forgiveness, Tolerance, Compassion, RESPONSIBILITY, HONESTY, Respect, Perseverance, and FAITH that embodying all this is ITS OWN REWARD. Now that would be a blessing and a grace I would be thankful for! Such a People would be considered Holy.

E Archer, NYC

One more thing: note that Paine said "tyranny IN religion" not the tyranny OF religion.

E Archer, NYC

Mike, I do have to say that your definition of 'religion' and the distinction you make that separates church and state is truly brilliant. If this could be understood by the People themselves, it would be transformational. 100 stars!

Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

Religion appears to divert the responsibility of the tyrant's aggression to a non-existent entity.  Assure the tyrant of this non-existence, the aggression will cease. The tyrant will be left to assume blame.


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