"That the corruption of the best things produces the worst, is grown into a maxim, and is commonly proved, among other instances, by the pernicious effects of superstition and enthusiasm, the corruptions of true religion."
"I shall venture to affirm, that there never was a popular religion, which represented the state of departed souls in such a light, as would render it eligible for human kind, that there should be such a state. These fine models of religion are the mere product of philosophy. For as death lies between the eye and the prospect of futurity, that event is so shocking to nature, that it must throw a gloom on all the regions which lie beyond it; and suggest to the generality of mankind the idea of Cerberus and Furies; devils, and torrents of fire and brimstone."
"What a noble privilege is it of human reason to attain the knowledge of the supreme Being; and, from the visible works of nature, be enabled to infer so sublime a principle as its supreme Creator? But turn the reverse of the medal. Survey most nations and most ages. Examine the religious principles, which have, in fact, prevailed in the world. You will scarcely be persuaded, that they are any thing but sick men's dreams: Or perhaps will regard them more as the playsome whimsies of monkies in human shape, than the serious, positive, dogmatical asseverations of a being, who dignifies himself with the name of rational."
"Deacon King was tried for violating the Sabbath, and so hot was the debate that it was referred to the church council, which ultimately decided, after long and grave debate, that the deacon had committed a 'work of necessity and mercy.'"
"Mead had studied for the ministry, but had lost his faith and took great delight in blasphemy. Capt. Charles H. Frady, pioneer missionary, held a meeting here and brought Mead back into the fold. He then became so devout that, one Sunday, when he happened upon a swimming party, he shot at the people in the river, and threatened to kill anyone he again caught desecrating the Sabbath."
"Adjoining a refreshment stand ... is a small frame ice house ... with a whitewashed advertisement on its brown front stating, simply, "Ice. Glory to Jesus." The proprietor of the establishment is a religious man who has seized the opportunity to broadcast his business and his faith at the same time."
"When the Revolutionaries ran short of gun wadding the Rev. James Caldwell ... broke open the church doors and seized an armful of Watts' hymnbooks. The preacher threw them to the soldiers and shouted, "Give 'em Watts, boys--give 'em Watts!"
"[T]he Congregational minister in a neighboring town definitely stated that 'the same spirit which drove the herd of swine into the sea drove the Baptists into the water, and that they were hurried along by the devil until the rite was performed.'"
"Our knowledge of the historical worth of certain religious doctrines increases our respect for them, but does not invalidate our proposal that they should cease to be put forward as the reasons for the precepts of civilization. On the contrary! Those historical residues have helped us to view religious teachings, as it were, as neurotic relics, and we may now argue that the time has probably come, as it does in an analytic treatment, for replacing the effects of repression by the results of the rational operation of the intellect."
"Culture's essential service to a religion is to destroy intellectual idolatry, the recurrent tendency in religion to replace the object of its worship with its present understanding and forms of approach to that object."
"Religion! How it dominates man's mind, how it humiliates and degrades his soul. God is everything, man is nothing, says religion. But out of that nothing God has created a kingdom so despotic, so tyrannical, so cruel, so terribly exacting that naught but gloom and tears and blood have ruled the world since gods began."
"By Jesus's time the Law of Moses, originally established for the government of a semi-barbarous nation of herdsmen and hill-farmers, resembled a petulant great-grandfather who tries to govern a family business from his sick-bed in the chimney-corner, unaware of the changes that have taken place in the world since he was able to get about: his authority must not be questioned, yet his orders, since no longer relevant, must be reinterpreted in another sense, if the business is not to go bankrupt. When the old man says, for instance: "It is time for the women to grind their lapfuls of millet in the querns", this is taken to mean: "It is time to send the sacks of wheat to the water-mill."