Showing My Patriotism
George Washington, 1st U.S. President:
“Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. I had hoped that liberal and enlightened thought would have reconciled the Christians so that their religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society.” [Notice use of the word their, rather than our, when referring to Christians.]
"There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."
John Adams, 2nd U.S. President:
"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it."
"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."
Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President
"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
James Madison , 4th U.S. President
, 4th U.S. President:
"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect."
"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."
Benjamin Franklin, U.S. public official, writer, scientist, printer, and Founding Father:
"In the affairs of the world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the want of it."
"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."
"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."
The Reverend Doctor Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in
"The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [Washington; Adams; Jefferson; Madison; Monroe; Adams; Jackson] not a one had professed a belief in Christianity.... Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism."
Of course, some of the quotes above were from private letters written to each other and to other confidantes. Judging by other quotes from the early presidents, there seems to be some difference between their public personas and their private convictions. But the U.S. was never meant to be a Christian nation, contrary to popular belief...