anticlerical quotes

quotes from: ... and from the works of the authors (the translations are mine)

Lucretius (Titus Lucretius Carus, 96?-56 BC) from: "De rerum natura". Human life is poisoned by the weight of religion.

Seneca (ca. 5 B.C.E. to C.E. 65) Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.

Ferdinand Magellan (Fernão de Magalhães, 1480?-1521)
The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) Men of simple understanding, little inquisitive and little instructed, make good Christians.

Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616) Mistrust the ox in front, the mule in the back, the monk in both sides.

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) Baraba, in "The Jew of Malta, Prologue" I count religion but a childish toy, And hold there is no sin but innocence.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) from: "Pensees" (1670) Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) from: "The True-Born Englishman" Part II (1701) And of all the plagues with which mankind are cursed Ecclesiastic tyranny's the worst.

Charles de Montesquieu (1689-1755) from: "Lettres persanes " (1721) No kingdom has ever had as many civil wars as the kingdom of Christ.

Voltaire (François Marie Arouet, 1694-1778): "(...) every day, in the catholic countries, we see priests and monks who, coming out from their incestuous bed not having even washed their hands soiled by impurity, go and produce gods in hundreds, eat and drink their god, shit and piss their god. This superstition, hundred times more absurd and sacrilegious than all those of the Egyptians, availed to an Italian priest billions of unearned income and the domination of a country, and some people would feel like going, armed, to banish that priest who misappropriated the Caesars' palace." From "Philosophical Dictionary" (1764) item "Transubstantiation" quoted on "Il Vernacoliere" July 2001.
- Every judicious man, every reasonable man, must consider with repugnance the christian sect.
The superstitions derived from the paganism and adopted by the Hebraism invested the Catholic Church since its beginning. All the Fathers of the Church,without exception, believed in the power of magic. The church has always censured the magic, but always believed in it: the sorcerers and the witches were not excommunicated as mad and into error, but as persons being in communication with the devil.
Nothing can be more contrary to religion than reason and good sense.
- A clergyman is one who feels himself called upon to live without working at the expense of the rascals who work to live.
Whenever an important event, a revolution, or a calamity turns to the profit of the church, such is always signalised as the Finger of God. From "Philosophical Dictionary" (1764)
Of all religions the Christian is without doubt the one which should inspire tolerance most, although up to now the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.
If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.
The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning. From "Philosophical Dictionary" (1764)

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity.

James Madison (1751-1836) The religious enslavement puts in chain and weakens the spirit and makes it unable to noble enterprises.

William Blake (1757-1827) "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" (1790-3) As the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.

Anne Newport Royall (1769-1854) from: "Missionaries, Black Book", Volume III (1829) These bible people remind me of another calamity similar to this missionary scheme, when our people, or any christian power would go to Africa for the pious purpose of kidnapping negroes, the mother would cry out to her children "run, run, the christians are coming," so when ever you hear "bibles," run for your life, if you do not want your pockets picked, or to be insulted and slandered as I was.... and if you hear "hopeful conversions" or the "gospel," don't stop to look behind you.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
I am surrounded by priests who repeat incessantly that their kingdom is not of this world, and yet they lay their hands on everything they can get.
The religion is perfect to keep the common people quiet.
Every religion has been invented by the man.

Stendhal [Henri Beyle] (1783-1842) All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) from: "Parerga und Paralipomena" (1851) Religion is the masterpiece of the art of animal training, for it trains people as to how they shall think.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) from: "Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem" (1813)
And priests dare babble of a God of peace,
Even whilst their hands are red with guiltless blood,
Murdering the while, uprooting every germ
Of truth, exterminating, spoiling all,
Making the earth a slaughter-house!

Frances Wright (1795-1852) from: "Divisions of Knowledge" (1828) The hired preachers of all sects, creeds, and religions, never do, and never can, teach any thing but what is in conformity with the opinions of those who pay them.

Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) Italian general and patriot: "Memorie autobiografiche" (1932) Anyway a priest is an impostor, and I must devote myself to the holy worship of truth.

Richard Birnie (1808-1888) from: "Essays: Social, Moral And Political "(1879) How large a share of vanity must spur the piety of the missionary. There is something melodramatic in landing on some Fiji island, in baptising, debauching and ultimately murdering the unsuspecting savage; then in taking his land in the name of the Most High.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894)
The man who is always worrying about whether or not his soul would be damned generally has a soul that isn't worth a damn.
Men are idolaters, and want something to look at and kiss, or throw themselves down before; they always did, they always will; and if you don't make it of wood, you must make it of words. From: "The Poet at the Breakfast Table" (1872)

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) The pioneers and missionaries of religion have been the real cause of more trouble and war than all other classes of mankind.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) Missionaries are perfect nuisances and leave every place worse than they found it.

Sir James Paget (1814-1899) I know of no book which has been a source of brutality and sadistic conduct, both public and private, that can compare with the Bible.

George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans, 1819-1880) My childhood was full of deep sorrows - colic, whooping-cough, dread of ghosts, hell, Satan, and a Deity in the sky who was angry when I ate too much plumcake.

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910) from: "Letters from the Earth" (1909?; published in 1962)
(The Bible) It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.

- from: "A Horse's Tale, (1906; published in 2020)
Man is not always like that, Mongrel; he is kind enough when he is not excited by religion.

Émile Zola (1840-1902) Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest!

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) from "The Devil's Dictionary", 1911.
Clergyman, n. A man who undertakes the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of bettering his temporal ones.
Pray, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy.
Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.
Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) from: "The Antichrist" (1895)
Whatever a theologian regards as true must be false: there you have almost a criterion of truth.

Lemuel K. Washburn (1846-1927) from: "Is The Bible Worth Reading?"
If the factory pays taxes and the church does not, it follows that the church will some day own the factory.

Helen H. Gardener (1853-1925) from: "Men, Women and Gods" pag. 14.
The bible teaches that a father may sell his daughter for a slave [Ex. xxx, 7], that he may sacrifice her purity to a mob [Judges xix, 24; Gen. xix, 8], and that he may murder her, and still be a good father and a holy man. It teaches that a man may have any number of wives; that he may sell them, give them away, or swap them around, and still be a perfect gentleman, a good husband, a righteous man, and one of God's most intimate friends; and that is a pretty good position for a beginning. It teaches almost every infamy under the heavens for woman, and it does not recognize her as a self-directing, free human being. It classes her as property, just as it does a sheep: and it forbids her to think, talk, act, or exist, except under conditions and limits defined by some priest.

Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) Assure a man that he has a soul and then frighten him with old wives' tales as to what is to become of him afterward, and you have hooked a fish, a mental slave.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) from: "Has Religion Made Useful Contribution to Civilization?" My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) from: "A Mencken Chrestomathy - Sententiæ: Arcana Cælestia" (1949) Theology: An effort to explain the unknowable by putting it into terms of the not worth knowing.

Sir Julian Sorell Huxley (1887-1975) from: "The Creed of a Scientific Humanist " I recall the story of the philosopher and the theologian. The two were engaged in disputation and the theologian used the old quip about a philosopher resembling a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat -- which wasn't there. "That may be," said the philosopher: "but a theologian would have found it."

Joseph Lewis (1889-1968) from: "The Ten Commandments", pag. 66-67. Changing a rod into a serpent and the serpent back into a rod may be clever magic, but how does such a demonstration prove that Moses spoke to God? If the only thing necessary to prove the truth of an extraordinary claim were to demonstrate an ability to bewilder, there would be no more mysteries to solve.
If a person claims that he can bring the dead back to life, and in proof of that power pulls a rabbit out of a hat, that is hardly a demonstration of the truth of his claim; it is merely an example of his ability in the art of deception. If he claims that he can fly without wings and without the use of mechanical help of any kind, and in proof of his ability pulls another rabbit out of another hat, that is not proof of his ability to fly, but of his ability to lie, and he will without much hesitation be condemned as a faker. The demonstration of one thing has absolutely no bearing in proving the truth of the other, when there is no relationship between them

Henry Marie Joseph Millon de Montherlant (1895-1972) from "Carnets" Religion is the venereal disease of mankind.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) from "God in the Dock" Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) from "Le diable et le bon dieu" I know but one Church: it's the society of men.

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec (1909-1966) from: "Unkempt Thoughts" (1962) Let him who is without guild cast the first stone. A trap. Because then he will be no longer without guilt.

Francis Harry Compton Crick (1916-2004) If revealed religions have revealed anything it is that they are usually wrong.

John Updike (1932-2009) from: "Roger's Version" (1986) Whenever religion touches science, it gets burned. In the sixteen century astronomy, in the seventeenth microbiology, in the eighteenth geology and paleontology, in the nineteenth Darwin's biology all grotesquely extended the world-frame and sent churchmen scurrying for cover in ever smaller, more shadowy nooks, little gloomy ambiguous caves in the psyche where even now neurology is cruelly harrying them, gouging them out from the multifolded brain like wood lice from under the woodpile. Barth had been right: totaliter aliter. Only by placing God totally on the other side of the humanly understandable can any final safety for Him be secured.

George Carlin (1937-2008)
The Catholic Church is astonishing: they succeeded in persuading us that there is a merciful and charitable God, who created the heaven and the earth, who loves us, who wants us beside him, who is almighty and who needs money.
I would never want to be a member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood.
Religion is like a pair of shoes.....Find one that fits for you, but don't make me wear your shoes.
Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man - living in the sky - who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time! But He loves you. From: Politically Incorrect, May 29, 1997.

Frank Zappa (1940-1993) My best advice to anyone who wants to raise a happy, mentally healthy child is: Keep him or her as far away from a church as you can.

Isabel Allende (1942-) from "The House of the Spirits"
- He said that Christianity, like almost any other superstitions, made man weaker and resigned and that one shouldn't expect a reward in heaven but should instead fight for his rights on earth.

Annie Dillard (1945-), from: "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek "
An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest:
"If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"
"No," said the priest, "not if you did not know."
"Then why," asked the Inuit earnestly, "did you tell me?"

Dan Barker (1949-) from: "Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist"
- You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?
- The very concept of sin comes from the bible. Christianity offers to solve a problem of its own making! Would you be thankful to a person who cut you with a knife in order to sell you a bandage?

Dennis Miller (1953-) The 66% of the catholics make sex once a week. The number would be fewer, but they counted also the priests.

Dylan Brody (1964-) I'm willing to see prayer in our schools, if you're willing to find a place for algebra in our churches.

Giovanni Soriano (1969-) Points of view: believing that a black cat crossing your path brings you bad luck is deemed as superstition; believing that an “ever-virgin” woman had conceived the “son of god” thanks to the “holy spirit” is deemed as faith.

Francesco Vespa (1985-) How nice is religion! Yesterday I went to confession. I feel better, but now the priest asks 200 Euros to keep his mouth shut. (2009) Security package: the children of the illegal immigrants will be entrusted to the welfare services. Let's see the upside of the matter: once they would have been entrusted to the priests.

Simone Salis (?) Too many popes die at work. The public prosecutor starts inquiry. from: Lercio TG - StaiSerena, Rai Radio2, March 27th, 2015.


from "CONTRO IL CONCORDATO*" on "Cuore" n. 38 - September 24th 1990
(* "Against the Concordate". The Concordate is a covenant between Italy and Vatican State, signed in 1929 and renewed in 1984)

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321): sends to hell all the popes of his times, and so makes St. Peter speak against them:

"The one who usurps my place on earth,
my place, my vacant place
in the presence of the son of God,
made of my cemetery a sewer
of blood and stench, where the perverse
who tumbled down from here, appeases himself"
and defines the papal seat as:
"the place where all day Christ is sold and bought

Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375): all his Decameron, and particularly its first four short stories, are pealing of laicality. In the third the Jew Melchisedec tells about Rome: "Here it seemed to me there was no holiness, no piety, no good deed or example of life or other, in any clergyman; but instead it seemed to me to see in everyone plenty of lust, stinginess and greediness and things similar or worse (if somebody can have something worse of it), and I deem that a forge of acts diabolic rather than godly"
For these reasons he is converted to Christian religion, thinking that only the Holy Spirit can help him, such being the priests in Rome.

Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374): the meeker of the poets so reports of the papal court:

"May the flame from the heaven rain on your plaits
nest of tracheries, in which all the evil
which spreads on the world is hatched;
in which lust makes the last rehearsal.
In your rooms girls and old men
are dancing, and Beelzebub in the middle
with bellows, with fire and with mirrors

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519): in his "Prophecies" laughs at the "false mental sciences", like theology, and at the confessions and indulgences, and ironically stigmatizes the luxury of the church: "Many people will leave the exercises and the labour and poverty of life and goods, and will go and live in wealthy and sumptuous palaces, showing this be the right way to become a friend of God".

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527): his lay spirit is renowned:
Those peoples who are closer to Roman Church, leader of our religion, have less religion"
It's worth recalling who's the author of the sentence "
the end justifies the means", for which he was so blamed by the priests. In 1503 he wrote the Lord of Florence that cardinal Riario, nephew of pope Sistus IV, told him "in every thing men look the end instead of the means". And later on, in Mandragola, he makes the cynical friar Timoteo repeat: "Moreover, in every thing it must consider the end". Let's give Machiavelli what's Machiavelli's, and cardinals what cardinals'.

Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540): in his Memories he declares:
Three things I wish to see before my death, but I doubt, even if I could live a long life, not to see even one of them: first thing is living in an orderly republic in our city, then to see Italy set free from all the barbarians, and finally to see the world set free from the tyranny of these wicked priests".

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564): resumes Dante's diatribe against Vatican:

"Here the chalices are turned into helmets and swords
and Christ's blood is sold retail,
and cross and thorns become spears and rowels:
and even Christ loses his patience

Torquato Tasso (1544-1595): obsessed by religious fears and accused by the Holy Inquisition, complains:
that with quibbling artifices they made him keep, beyond all his intentions, some forbidden books: and besides he was conscious he had uttered with some other ... some really scandalous words, which could have questioned his faith". And adds: "The suppliant have been tightenent as a sinner of melancholic humour, and has been purged against his will".

Brother Paolo Sarpi (1552-1623): in his History of the Council of Trent, for which he was persecuted by the Jesuits, notes:
If there ever was a reason to allow the clergymen to marry, was ... that out of five hundreed catholic priests, you hardly find one who's not fornicator ..., and that it looks very much absurd not to admit married clergymen and tolerate the fornicators: and willing to remain ambiguous, means willing to be left without priests".

Giuseppe Parini (1729-1799): abbé, as a member of a board for the reform of the studes, declared:
The mediocrity, baseness and corruption in all kinds of schools formally settled or silently reduced under the direction of (Jesuit) friars ... and the drastic decay of the Universities (...) since nearly all of them dropped in the hands of the friars, they introduced the same vicious, false and factious spirit, which is found in their institutions, in their boarding school and in the school which anyhow came under their care".

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642): the history of his forced abjuration is renowned, but is less known his caustic spirit when speaking about priest and friar, in his chapter in blame of the cassock:

"And if you want to know some wicked
bad men, iniquitous and immoderate,
you should know priests and friars,
which are full of goodness and piety

Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639): another great victim of persecution, escaped the stake, but passed his life in jail. So he addressed Christ:

"Your followers, resembling more,
to those who crucified you, than to you crucified,
are today, oh good Jesus, drawing away at all
from the customs your wisdom prescribed.
Lusts, insults, betrayals and brawls...

Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803): inveighs this way against the State of Rome, territories without State and churches without religion:

"Empty unhealthy region who name
yourself a State: dry
untilled fields ...
rich patricians, and silly more than rich:
prince, made happy by the silliness of the others:
Cities, not citizens: august temples,
but no religion: unjust laws, which are
changed every lustre, getting worse;
Keys, which once were bought by the impious to open
heaven's door, now turned ancient by age:
Oh, are you, Rome, the seat of every vice?

Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827): the first one to interpret the history of literature out of the monkish frames, blaming the clergy "they hold the education of young people entirely in their hands", notes:
The education can be planned so it gives only mediocre skillnesses, and the Jesuits' boarding schools crowded Italy with versifiers, declaimers and poor authors, full of affectation and bad taste. And if that age gave some man deserving the admiration and gratefulness of the posterity, he found himself in a continuous and dangerous state of war against the Jesuits"

Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873): defender of the catholic moral and the church, having voted, as a senator of the Reign, for the proclamation of Rome as capital of Italy, incurred excommunication and therefore was buried in the cemetery of the non-Catholics, where still his body rests.

Luigi Settembrini (1813-1876): a religious and liberal spirit, suffered the Bourbon's jail, and he knew the reason why:
Between the most abominable priests the government chooses the most stupid and wicked, it nominate them bishops and delivers them the souls' care, the instruction, the diocese's police and the surveillance on everybody's conscience. Therefore the bishops are the mighty spies of police intendants".

Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872): most religious spirit and champion of democracy:
Freedom and Pope are in contradiction. Now, in the dispute between Pope and freedom, to whom the victory is due? ... In which of the two theories, represented by the Pope and the freedom, is there an hope? Let's speak to the priests in good faith. Let's lay down every stimulus of passion, every vanity of defense, and let's watch around ...".

Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882): "our beautiful native land will be great when it will be set free from the black scrofulous brood of Jesuits and Jesuitants ... I imagined with reason the time had come to make the pontifical hovel collapse and acquire to Italy his illustrious capital. ... Everything promised at last the downfall of the priest, enemy of human kind".

Francesco De Sanctis (1817-1863): "We want to teach the truth by means of the lie, and we inculcate on the others certain ideas, of which we make fun in the secret of our conscience, and we scream against the priests, and we wear the cap of the priest". And warns: "Nor the concordates strengthened faith, neither the constitutions strengthened freedoms".

Benedetto Croce (1866-1952): "All this ferment ... generated in 1846 a liberal pope , Pius IX. Something impossible, by logic and reality".

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937): "... the pseudo-historicist sophism according to which the non-religious (non-confessional) pedagogists, and in reality atheists, allow the teaching of the catholic religion because the religion is the philosophy of the childhood of the humanity which renews itself in every non-metaphoric childhood".
Maybe it should better investigate on by which pseudo-historicist sophisms we came today to extend that teaching from three to nineteen years of age.

Roman skeptics

Giuseppe Gioachino Belli (1791-1863) Sonetti, Mondadori, Milano, 1984. (edited by Pietro Gibellini)

THE EXAMPLE (April 30th 1834)
Considering how slothful are
These malicious and treacherous priests:
Observing how choleric,
And greedy, stingy, arrogant and fucker they are;

You take some breath and take some heart,
You fall asleep more peacefully and take your rest:
Since their worst vices
Can lighten the scrupulous ones.

It's the Clergy who teaches us to do the same,
It's the Clergy, who has forgotten the great precept
To love their neighbour as themselves.

While the priests offend the decorum
And God's law is dead in their heart,
Who would want to respect their law?

THE POPE'S LAUGHTERS (November 17th 1834)
The Pope laughs? That's bad, friend! It's a sign
That soon his people is going to cry.
The sniggers of this good stepfather
For us the step-sons
* always come together.

These sinister faces wearing the triple crown
They all resemble the chestnuts:
They're fine outside, and then, by god made of wood,
They're rotten inside, and full of defects.

The Pope sneers? There's trouble in the air:
All the more so as his laughing in these times
Doesn't look to me as a necessary thing.

My dear sons, take good care:
Merry sovereigns are bad examples,
What a man who laughs does? He shows his teeth.

* Footnotes by the author: Our Roman is right. In fact we are sons of Jesus Christ and of the Church, his bride, who, once dead her first husband, turned to other weddings, and doesn't stop, in spite of her decrepitude.

I wish I could read in their heart
How many of them believe in God.

Giggi Zanazzo (1860-1911) Tradizioni popolari romane. Novelle, favole e leggende romanesche. Edizioni La Bancarella Romana. Roma, 1994 (reprint of the original edition of 1907-1910). Vol. II, pag.350-351.

One day the Pope heard the news, which already spread all over the city, that there was a crucifix who - you don't say! - sweated blood.
The whole city went to see that sort of miracle, and the hermit who owned the crucifix was gaining a lot of money.
The pope Sistus the Fifth wasn't a fool, and he didn't want the others passed off as fools. So one day, getting into the coach, he said to the coachman:
"Let's go and see that Christ who pisses blood".
As he got there, he said to the hermit:
"Give me that crucifix".
Then he borrowed a hatchet from a joiner who worked near by, and saying:
"I worship you as Christ, and I split you as wood"
he hitted it with the hatchet and he splitted it in hundreed pieces.
Guess what? Inside there was a kind of device made with a sponge soaked in a red dye so that, as a string was pulled, the sponge wrung and the red dye strained out from some small holes and trickled on the crucifix.
You can guess how disappointed was the people to see what kind of swindle against them had been found out!
But the hermit was even more disappointed when, by order of the Pope, was catched by the cops, then brought to trial and sent to the Inquisition.

It rains or it does not, the pope eats.
Giuliano Malizia - Proverbi romaneschi - Newton Compton editori, Roma, 1994.

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quotes on non-religious paranormal

page last updated: May 26th, 2022