It is with great irritation that I call your attention to yet another article full of fake quotes from the founding fathers — not by David Barton and his ilk, but by someone on “our side.” Yes, I know this is a year old. I don’t care. This crap has to stop.
1. “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man”- Thomas Jefferson
Nope, he didn’t say that. This is a bad paraphrase from a letter to Joseph Priestly.
5. “There is not one redeeming feature in our superstition of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.”- Thomas Jefferson
He didn’t say that either. The first sentence is entirely mythical. The second sentence is almost accurate; it’s taken from his Notes on Virginia, but he isn’t talking merely about Christianity, he’s talking about coercion. Here’s the full quote:
“Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor morum over each other. Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned: yet we have not advanced one inch towards 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.”
And another one:
10. “This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it”- John Adams
This one really irritates me because there are only two kinds of people who could pass it on: Those who have never read the letter it comes from and those who are lying. Here’s the full quote, in which he actually says the exact opposite of what appears here:
“Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, ‘This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!’ But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell.”
And here’s one that I see quoted a lot but have never seen an original citation for:
18. “The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession.”- Abraham Lincoln
It shows up on hundreds and hundreds of webpages, but I can’t find any citation to any original Lincoln document. If someone has any insight into this, I’d appreciate it. But the bottom line is this: If you don’t know where the quote originally came from, you shouldn’t be citing it.