During the 1844 New England Antislavery Convention, Foster held up a collar and manacles and declared, “Behold here a specimen of the religion of this land, the handiwork of the American church and clergy."
“He was an activist to the end of his life. He just did not believe that religion should enforce its views on the whole of society. He really believed that everyone should have the right to choose their own views.”
“I simply try to aid in letting the light of historical truth into that decaying mass of outworn thought which attaches the modern world to mediaeval conceptions of Christianity.”
“If any of the three prongs of the Lemon Test are violated by an act of government, it is unconstitutional:
1) It must have a secular legislative purpose;
2) Its principal or primary effect must neither advance nor inhibit religion;
3) It must not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion.”
"I try to understand faith and religion. I was raised by wonderful Catholic parents who were deeply faithful and taught us that God is a God of love. Even though I am lapsed, I respect that others turn to God and religion for guidance, for solace, for salvation. What I cannot respect is when that faith dictates how others should live their lives. I cannot respect when such faith tells some people that their lives are unworthy of dignity."
“Religion is declining, with no better proof than I am here today. Two hundred years ago, I would have been burned at the stake. What was considered heresay [sic] by our fathers is tolerated now. The hell that frightened us in childhood has vanished into space. Heaven is not in our geographies. Therefore, we see the old faiths loosing their hold on the human mind.”
“My father was a Catholic deacon, my mother was a lay minister and I thought about becoming a priest. I was in church every Sunday for the first 15 years of my life. Now I spend my Sundays on my bike, on my snowboard or on my husband. I haven’t spent my post-Catholic decades in a sulk, wishing the church would come around on the issue of homosexuality so that I could start attending Mass again. I didn’t abandon my faith. I saw through it. The conflict between my faith and my sexuality set that process in motion, but the conclusions I reached at the end of that process—there are no gods, religion is man-made, faith can be a force for good or evil—improved my life. I’m grateful that my sexuality prompted me to think critically about faith. Pushed out? No. I walked out.”
“I am an atheist. (I have recently realized this.) I don't believe the arc of the universe bends towards justice. I don't even believe in an arc. I believe in chaos. I believe powerful people who think they can make Utopia out of chaos should be watched closely. I don't know that it all ends badly. But I think it probably does.”
“ . . . family, friends and well-wishers from around the world assured me that prayers and my faith in God would comfort me. I tried to pray but I didn't feel any better, nor did I make any kind of connection with God.”
“For tens of thousands of years, humans have stared up into the heavens and wondered about the origin of the universe. Up until now every culture, society, and religion has had nothing else to turn to except its creation myths, fables, or religious scriptures. Today, by contrast, we have the extraordinary privilege of being the first generation of our species to have access to a scientific theory of the universe that explains its origin and evolution.”
“Skepticism is my nature, freethought is my methodology, agnosticism is my conclusion after 25 years of being in the ministry, and atheism is my opinion.”
"We can only proceed, individually and collectively, to make whatever improvements are possible in our respective areas of concern, sustained by the hope that others are doing the same.”
"If I was promised that we could sit with Marx in some great Deli Haus in the hereafter, I might believe in it! Sure, I find inspiration in Jewish stories of hope, also in the Christian pacifism of the Berrigans, also in Taoism and Buddhism. I identify as a Jew, but not on religious grounds. Yes, I believe, as Pascal said, 'The heart has its reasons which reason cannot know.' There are limits to reason. There is mystery, there is passion, there is something spiritual in the arts—but it is not connected to Judaism or any other religion."
“[The Catholic church] remains rooted in the past, an autocratic structure through which the pope and bishops make all decisions, and their constituents follow them without question.”
“[Vern Bullough] will be sorely missed as one of the leading secular humanists in North America and the world.”
"Much of human progress has been in defiance of religion or of the apparent natural order. The defiance of religious and secular authority has led to democracy, human rights, and the protection of the environment. Humanists make no apologies for this. Humanists twist no biblical doctrine to justify such actions."
“As an atheist, I think all preferences are moot once you kill someone. The injury is entirely to the surviving community.”
"I receive too many emails from women in the Islamic world, telling me: 'Go ahead, we are behind you,' but unfortunately they're afraid for their lives."
"We are lucky enough to be living in a country that not only guarantees the freedom to practice religion as we see fit, but also freedom FROM religious zealots who would persecute and prosecute and even physically harm those of us who do not believe as they do. . . . If you refuse to salute the flag and say God in your pledge, you're actually judged un-American. But that's not the way America is supposed to be. That's the way Iran is. . . . Predicating patriotism on a citizen's belief in God is as anti-American as judging him on the color of his skin. It is wrong. It is useless. It is unconstitutional."
"The amazing thing is that every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded, because the elements —the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution— weren't created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way they could get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode.
So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today."
"If a doctor has a certain philosophic principle, religion or otherwise, that limits what he or she can do or say for the benefit of the patient, then he's not a full doctor. . . . A real doctor could divorce professional life from spiritual life."
“The fact is that more people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, that, my friends, that is true perversion!”
“I leaf through [the bible] quite often--if only to shake my head in disgust. I quote Leviticus to people who think that every word in the Bible is absolutely gospel and you need to obey every word. In Leviticus it says you must kill a bull if you’re going to really love God. And you must kill it in a certain way, or else you will be killed.”
“It should seem that Negroes, of all Americans, would be found in the Free-thought fold, since they have suffered more than any other class of Americans from the dubious blessings of Christianity.”
“The greatest difference between the Humanist ethic and that of Christianity and the traditional religions is that it is entirely based on happiness in this one and only life and not concerned with a realm of supernatural immortality and the glory of God. Humanism denies the philosophical and psychological dualism of soul and body and contends that a human being is a oneness of mind, personality, and physical organism. Christian insistence on the resurrection of the body and personal immortality has often cut the nerve of effective action here and now, and has led to the neglect of present human welfare and happiness.”
“In Canada, you have fewer religious fanatics, there is much less violence in Canada and it's a much more tolerant society.''
“I'm an agnostic. A non-believer, a heretic, an infidel. Well, you say, an agnostic stands somewhere between belief in God and non-belief. I stand closer to non-belief. When I think about my own religious nature, about spiritual matters, I never include the Sky God in my picture. I'm a humanist, which is like being a spiritualized atheist.”
"Religious people often say that religion offers absolute certainty about right and wrong; 'god tells them' what it is. Even supposing that the aforementioned gods exist, and that the believers really know what the gods think, that still does not provide certainty, because any being no matter how powerful can still be wrong. Whether gods exist or not, there is no way to get absolute certainty about ethics. Without absolute certainty, what do we do? We do the best we can. Injustice is happening now; suffering is happening now. We have choices to make now. To insist on absolute certainty before starting to apply ethics to life decisions is a way of choosing to be amoral."
Gardner “was an activist atheist, a proselytizing atheist. He thought that not saying you were an atheist hurt the cause of reality.”
“The object of Christ was to teach his followers how to die, rather than to instruct them how to live. . . . In Spain religion is cruel oppression, in Scotland it is a gloomy nightmare, in Rome it is priestly dominion, while in England it is simply emotional pastime. All these different phases of Christianity indicate that theological opinions depend on surrounding circumstances, and cannot therefore be the cause of the civilisation of the world.”
"At age fourteen I was asking questions. When the answers failed to satisfy me, I searched elsewhere for different answers and found wisdom in atheism. And I am far from alone in that experience."
“To me [Christianity] was all nonsense, based on that profane compilation of fables called the Bible.”
"If you think you've got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics."