"All national institutions of churches,
whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish,
appear to me no other than human inventions
set up to terrify and enslave mankind,
and monopolize power and profit."
by:
Thomas Paine
(1737-1809) US Founding father, pamphleteer, author
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Key word: national. I take this to mean official or officially sanctioned. I confess it is not clear to me exactly what he meant. But it seems he is distinguishing between state churches and non-state churches.
 -- David L. Rosenthal     
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    I admire Thomas Paine for the role he took in the earliest days of our nation and I admire alot of his writings but I disagree with this quote (if in fact it is a quote of his).I believe I can see how this statement might have formed but this statement is false in my eyes.I am a Christian and Christianity began with Jesus.Maybe,over the past 2,000 years,man has transformed and perverted (with money) the mission of this Church but Christianity in it's purest form is a way of life.A religion of brotherhood and compassion towards all humanity.That is the Christianity I endeavor to live and believe in.
     -- Me Again     
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    Today we have Islamic extremists to "terrify and enslave mankind."
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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    Yet another indication that the US was not founded as a "Christian nation"! Interestingly, it is amazing how many "Christians" today fail to remember that Jesus was a Jew and that "Christianity" was not created until several hundred years after his death... and yet still attempt to claim that it is a "2000 year old" religion as if that is some accomplishment of note... you want an old religion, don't turn to it or any of those of the god of Abraham, look to nature centric religions for religion with a long history! ;-)
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    Sadly, I agree.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Interestingly enough I have met far more atheist’s who I have found to be ethical than I have devote religious persons. Christianity is a faith no more or no less don’t bring compassion or ethics into it. I'm sorry but I can't believe in a God who sends good people into eternal hell and damnation because they are unbelievers.
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    It is the Judeo-Christian-Islamic TRIAD that has its roots in the mythological writings of the Old Testament. A sacred relic, or not, it is the foundation on which all western religions and philosophies have been built. It is fundamentally flawed since it posits a duality as the basis of all realities, starting with the separation of god and man in Genesis. The trickle down is even more damaging as it justifies the me/them, good/bad, right/wrong, spirit/body, rationality/faith that poisons human relationships in the western paradigm. This is the sickness that is at the core of these religions that think right/wrong has anything to do with anything and is used to justify man's inhumanity to man. In all eastern philosophical systems unity and oneness is the ultimate truth and mankind is only separate from it because of ignorance and the sensory illusion of multiplicity. At the least the concept of Unity has precluded proselitization by those religious systems, leading to far less blood shed in the name of my truth vs. your truth. If Einstein had or future scientists ever prove the unified field theory we will be that much closer to an alignment of the nature of reality and the truths of the Hindu/Buddhist continuum. Not that slaves to any dogmatic system will be any more enlightened, but at least for those who think without prejudice they will enjoy contemplating more deeply a world that figured out one of the great riddles of life.
     -- EGL, LA     
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    LOL Robert and Anonymous, the ignorance astounds me. Anonymous, were the original apostles setting up churches immediately after Jesus' death really not there (the sovereign Armenian Church, Gnosticism, etc. also all pre-date your reference) and, were the hundreds if not thousands of quotes here in this blog proving the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation all mis-quotes? Robert, the ethics you refer to derive from religion, in the case of the U.S., ethics derived from Christianity. Atheist nations, Islam nations, etc. have different situational compassion and ethics than does the U.S.; and by your statement, are you saying your atheist friends are better Christians than your Christian associates.? The subject of the quote, on its face, has been true far too often with far to few exceptions. It is a sad note that the early Thomas Paine was such an inspiration and in his later years became such an embittered drunk when he made this statement.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    EGL: I think that it is not the effects of the duality to which you refer that poisons human relationships, but merely the baser human qualities and behaviors that does so. Mike: You are on the mark, sadly, regarding Reston and Robert. Haven't you noticed the lack of intellectual honesty demonstrated by perhaps half of those who comment in this forum? It makes me sad to see people so closed-minded and narrow in their range of considerations. But I was an atheist when young. May God bless them with insight.
     -- David L Rosenthal     
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    What absolute rubbish - Ethics has no patron but itself and as for Christianity inventing Ethics, well, that has to be a joke...
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
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    Typical dogmatic ignorance, David. As far as closed-mindedness and intellectual dishonesty, you take the cake. To use this forum to preach daily the Word according to David demonstrates a self-rightousness and arrogance without match on this site -- not to mention the attempt to monopolize nearly every discussion ultimately devolving into Bible-thumping and condemnations of those who do not share your opinions (yet respect your right to believe them). It is ignorance like that that gives Christianity a bad name. I do not want your religion, I do not want your blessing, and I do not ever expect you to understand that your beliefs are just that -- beliefs. So wipe the dust off your feet and leave us poor damned souls alone. Just because I do not believe in you, does not mean I do not believe in divine Love, Truth, and Compassion and the multitude of forms they may take, so get off your high horse and join the human race.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    The invention of Christianity is the bane of Mankind's existence. We would be better off to rid ourselves of the pest.
     -- A.Jurgensen, Stuart, FL     
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     -- don dalgleish, london, UK      
    Many of the comments just read seem to be expressing the writer's personal view point on the nature, goodness, value, benefits, and such of religion. Everyone in this country is entitled, able, and legally permitted to express an opinion, even if wrong, unsupported, contraindicated. With certain types of oppression this wouldn't be possible. Paines' point in this quote is that corrupt, oppressive controllers do not just run governments, some also run churches. This quote doesn't commit him one way or the other on any religion issue. And if the type of church leader he is referring to had enough power, half of the above comments and this one wouldn't get printed. Actually this site might not exist.
     -- Walt, Canton, OH     
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    Read Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason - a brilliant book about religion. This quote comes from that book.
     -- Nasdaq7, Johannesburg     
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    i think tom paine is going to get me an A on my essay!
     -- cloe, los angeles     
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    i think this is going to get me an A too... on my research paper
     -- Anonymous, LA,CA     
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    A great thread gone somewhat astray as I read the posts. I am an LCMS Christian. I don't always share the dogmatic belief. I believe faith is a personal bond between the individual and Jesus Christ. As to the quote and its importance, our founding fathers saw the danger of church state linkage. Henry VIII had made a shambles of the ties involved in divine right monarchy and the pope as the vicar of Christ over marriage and divorce. England is still sorting that one out. So is Rome. Now, go back further to a time when a priest hood began keeping track of the various repeating cycles that took place in any given part of the world. Stonehenge as a "computer" to mark the pivotal changes marking the seasons. Did the priests build it or was it a leader trying to throw off a leaching priesthood? I haven't ever heard that question raised! I understand that there are these stone circles all over the place. Once one is built, the town idiot can handle the job of catching when the sign is "given." Even if he misses it by a few days, it's no big deal. There are Egyptian temples that mark a day when the sun reaches a special "holy mark" via a long corridor to let a key point be known. Some are so old that the modification of that point can be seen to have been changed via a significant structural modification. It's a quick step to a priesthood notifying an upcoming leader of their ability to signal events in "the heavens" to help him rule. In some places the priests could even predict eclipses. That gets the folks attention when the leader demands a sign from the gods! A personal favorite that Paine may deserve some credit for was the show Napoleon put on where the pope was to crown him as emperor. Except at the last instant, Napoleon took the crown from the pope's hands and placed it on his own head all by himself. I expect the people got the message. If things didn't turn out all that well for Napoleon, like Hitler, he had a good time while it lasted.
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol, CT     
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    Robert, well said... Archer, kudos for you and other who have seen the light. Mike have no fear you are a good person so you have nothing to worry about. All religions are man made and the sooner we just admit this the better for humanity. Religions are locked in fear and superstition, no more, no less.
     -- Robken, Spain     
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    Robken, thanks. The quote here does lend itself to theocracies more than stand alone religion. The occupying statist theocracy that now infests this land is a prime example of the quote's accuracy. As a human invention, said statist theocracy was / is set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. Mr. Obamunist Goodwrench the assassin, along with his priesthood (government) cabal of criminals, openly manifests their intent of death, destruction, an mayhem !
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Nasdaq7, you stole my comment. The Age of Reason states clearly Paine's view of religion. Robken has it right when he says that all religions are man made, including Christianity, an invention of Paul. Paul twisted the teachings of Jesus into the worship of Jesus.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
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    Reston is right that a lot of Christians don't see Jesus as a Jew. I know a man here in Austin who was a preacher in a church in Arkansas many years ago and was fired after he said that Jesus was a Jew. Hard to believe the ignorance there but it really happened.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
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    Whoever would like to delve into the history of Christianity would do well to study ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans and the various religions of their time. Christianity was invented around 300 AD. Paul did not exist. Jesus symbolizes the sun, the 12 apostles are the 12 signs of the zodiac and are also old 'gods' that were incorporated into the new religion in order to absorb the followers of conquered nations. Mithraism was the most popular religion of the day, and Christianity is almost an exact copy. Of course, Mithraism was a copy too from ancient Egypt. Osiris, Horus, and Isis are the true sources of God the Father, Jesus the Son and Mary the Virgin Mother/Goddess. Yes, the Bible is very old and contains eons of parables, proverbs, and astrotheological information. I find the study of religion to be fascinating -- I am not an unbeliever, I am a seeker of Truth. Early Christianity was based on allegories, not factual occurrences. When you can read the Bible knowing the symbolism that is behind it, it has much more depth to it than simple blind belief in "Jesus died for our sins." So did Osiris, Mithra, and DOZENS of god-men for thousands of years before Christianity. Do some research, the information is massive. Thomas Paine had discovered this truth in his day -- imagine what you can find today. May the good lord take a liking to ya. ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    All Religions create their own traditions based on what they feel represent the teachings of their God. As a Christian I am reminded when I read "Beware of the traditions of man" that I should never join a church and accept its traditions as part of Christs teaching. Let's keep it as simple as Christs teachings are and not lose ourselves in the pointless minutia that the institutionalized religions use to "terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." Keep your eye on the ball man!
     -- SteBen, West Chester     
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    Anyone who has read anything of reason knows the men who fashioned the Constitution DELIBERATELY omitted any mention of God in order to keep religion and government SEPARATED. And Christianity was beginning to form in just a few years after the death of the man called Jesus. It was only in 325 A.D. that the emperor Constantine ruled that Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire. It was only in 381 at the Council of Constantinople that the so-called holy spirit was added. Mithraism was a close contender in the competition for Rome's selection. There was and is no mention of a Trinity in the Bible either.
     -- dick, fort worth     
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    P.S. No religion, neither Christianity nor other, introduced morality. Before any religion humans had to establish rules of conduct in order to keep from killing each other. Morality and ethics came BEFORE any religion.
     -- dick, fort worth     
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    Amen, dick! BTW, 'Amen' comes from the Egyptian god of the same name -- people have been saying 'Amen' for nearly 10 thousand years -- no one even asks where it came from, they just go, "Amen!" ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    SteBen, well said. I believe in a higher power that I call God. I also believe in my community and carry a faith in my fellow man. I do not put faith in what you very appropriately call the "pointless minutia" of organized religion.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Great comments. It is very refreshing to read people's thoughts from the heart. My research into Egypt, Greece, Rome and Hindi has drawn a much diferent conclusion than Archer's and yet, in all thoughts it shows that there are still really good people out there that are thinking. Thanks Editor and everybody
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    A great thread! I'm no theologin, but I recall that when Christ was baptized by John the baptist, as set forth in the KJV, God spoke from the heavens to say, "This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased." And the spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon him...etc. Matthew 3, 16 and 17. That's pretty much the Triune God as I understand it as an LCMS Christian.
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol, CT     
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    It seems to me he had a complete change of heart on the subject later in life.
     -- Warren, Olathe     
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