John Adams on religion

This would be the best of all possible Worlds, if there were no Religion in it.“

– John Adams, to Thomas Jefferson

EDIT: As noted by commenter “Steve T.,” I’ve taken the quote out of context. Here’s the full context:

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 should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company—I mean hell.

Even the great ones make mistakes from time to time…my apologies for the error!


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8 thoughts on “John Adams on religion

  1. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    From an actual document that was important to our nation’s history, not some random quote Adams (a very pious man) might have said to Jefferson in passing.

  2. Zach, first, you call yourself a Catholic and you are taking John Adams quote out of context!

    Before you copy and paste, educate yourself!

  3. “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

  4. Again, that letter was never an official document of the United States government the way the Federalist Papers, Declaration of Independence, or the US Constitution are. Using Jeferson’s words in a letter he wrote as a way to interpret the First Amendment is highly perverse.

    The letter you are referring to bars the establishment of an official government church, akin to the Church of England (Episcopalian). It never bars an official government endorsement of religion.

  5. Zach when talking of a man’s personal belief, understand the man, not just display words that he penned in a different time and place. That is called perspective, something you clearly don’t have. Also, please note that words, phrases, and meanings do change and must also be put into perspective and context. Just think of Gay as in happy for an example.

    Zack, read up and just keep trying! Keep reaching for the stars and maybe someday you will arrive at been a Conservative.

  6. Actually, it’s not about laws establishing a state church, read it again, that is a conservative twist on the meaning.
    Jefferson was quite clear, no laws respecting an establishment of religion…ie, tax free, etc, etc

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