In his youth John Adams (1735-1826) thought to become a minister, but soon realized that his independent opinions would create much difficulty. At the age of twenty-one, therefore, he resolved to become a lawyer, noting that in following law rather than divinity, "I shall have liberty to think for myself without molesting others or being molested myself."
"God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world."
- to John Adams, Apr. 11, 1823
"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot.... they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind" - March 17, 1814
"What is it the New Testament teaches us? To believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith."
"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."
"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."
-letter to Wm. Bradford, April 1, 1774
". . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."
"I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did."
- letter to his father, 1738
"Gouverneur Morris had often told me that General Washington believed no more of that system (Christianity) than did he himself."
-Thomas Jefferson, in his private journal, Feb. 1800
"I never tire of reading Paine." - Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)
"The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."