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Title: Men, Women, and Gods - And Other Lectures
Author: Gardener, Helen H. (Helen Hamilton), 1853-1925
Language: English
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By Helen H. Gardener.

With An Introduction By Robert G. Ingersoll.

Twelfth Edition.

New York:

The Truth Seeker Company,

28 Lafayette Place.

Copyright, By Helen H. Gardener,
















     AS WIVES.


Nothing gives me more pleasure, nothing gives greater promise for the
future, than the fact that woman is achieving intellectual and physical
liberty. It is refreshing to know that here, in our country, there are
thousands of women who think and express their own thoughts--who are
thoroughly free and thoroughly conscientious--who have neither been
narrowed nor corrupted by a heartless creed--who do not worship a being
in heaven whom they would shudderingly loathe on earth. Women who do
not stand before the altar of a cruel faith with downcast eyes of timid
acquiescence, and pay to impudent authority the tribute of a thoughtless
yes. They are no longer satisfied with being told. They examine for
themselves. They have ceased to be the prisoners of society--the
satisfied serfs of husbands or the echoes of priests. They demand the
rights that naturally belong to intelligent human beings. If wives, they
wish to be the equals of husbands--if mothers, they wish to rear their
children in the atmosphere of love, liberty and philosophy. They believe
that woman can discharge all her duties without the aid of superstition,
and preserve all that is true, pure and tender without sacrificing in
the temple of absurdity the convictions of the soul.

Woman is not the intellectual inferior of man. She has lacked--not
mind--but opportunity. In the long night of barbarism physical strength,
and the cruelty to use it, were the badges of superiority. Muscle was
more than mind. In the ignorant age of Faith the loving nature of woman
was abused, her conscience was rendered morbid and diseased. It might
almost be said that she was betrayed by her own virtues. At best, she
secured, not opportunity, but flattery, the preface to degradation. She
was deprived of liberty and without that nothing is worth the having.
She was taught to obey without question, and to believe without thought.
There were universities for men before the alphabet had been taught
to woman. At the intellectual feast there were no places for wives and
mothers. Even now they sit at the second table and eat the crusts and
crumbs. The schools for women, at the present time, are just far
enough behind those for men to fall heirs to the discarded. On the same
principle, when a doctrine becomes too absurd for the pulpit, it is
given to the Sunday School. The ages of muscle and miracle--of fists and
faith--are passing away. Minerva occupies at last a higher niche than
Hercules. Now, a word is stronger than a blow.

At last we see women who depend upon themselves--who stand self poised
the shocks of this sad world without leaning for support against a
church--who do not go to the literature of barbarism for consolation,
nor use the falsehoods and mistakes of the past for the foundation of
their hope--women brave enough and tender enough to meet and bear the
facts and fortunes of this world.

The men who declare that woman is the intellectual inferior of man, do
not, and cannot, by offering themselves in evidence, substantiate their

Yet, I must admit that there are thousands of wives who still have
faith in the saving power of superstition--who still insist on attending
church while husbands prefer the shores, the woods, or the fields. In
this way families are divided. Parents grow apart, and unconsciously
the pearl of greatest price is thrown away. The wife ceases to be
the intellectual companion of the husband. She reads the "Christian
Register," sermons in the Monday papers, and a little gossip about
folks and fashions, while he studies the works of Darwin, Haeckel and
Humboldt. Their sympathies become estranged. They are no longer mental
friends. The husband smiles at the follies of the wife and she weeps for
the supposed sins of the husband. Such wives should read this book.
They should not be satisfied to remain forever in the cradle of thought,
amused with the toys of superstition.

The parasite of woman is the priest.

It must also be admitted that there are thousands of men who believe
that superstition is good for women and children--who regard falsehood
as the fortress of virtue, and feel indebted to ignorance for the purity
of daughters and the fidelity of wives. These men think of priests
as detectives in disguise, and regard God as a policeman who prevents
elopements. Their opinions about religion are as correct as their
estimate of woman.

The church furnishes but little food for the mind. People of
intelligence are growing tired of the platitudes of the pulpit--the
iterations of the itinerants. The average sermon is "as tedious as a
twice-told tale vexing the ears of a drowsy man."

One Sunday a gentleman who is a great inventor called at my house. Only
a few words had passed between us, when he arose, saying that he must
go as it was time for church. Wondering that a man of his mental wealth
could enjoy the intellectual poverty of the pulpit, I asked for an
explanation, and he gave me the following: "You know that I am an
inventor. Well, the moment my mind becomes absorbed in some difficult
problem, I am afraid that something may happen to distract my attention.
Now, I know that I can sit in church for an hour without the slightest
danger of having the current of my thought disturbed."

Most women cling to the Bible because they have been taught that to give
up that book is to give up all hope of another life--of ever meeting
again the loved and lost. They have also been taught that the Bible is
their friend, their defender, and the real civilizer of man.

Now if they will only read this book--these three lectures, without
fear, and then read the Bible, they will see that the truth or falsity
of the dogma of inspiration has nothing to do with the question of
immortality. Certainly the Old Testament does not teach us that there is
another life, and upon that question, even the New is obscure and vague.
The hunger of the heart finds only a few small and scattered crumbs.
There is nothing definite, solid, and satisfying. United with the idea
of immortality we find the absurdity of the resurrection. A prophecy
that depends for its fulfillment upon an impossibility, cannot satisfy
the brain or heart.

There are but few who do not long for a dawn beyond the night. And
this longing is born of, and nourished by, the heart. Love wrapped
in shadow--bending with tear-filled eyes above its dead, convulsively
clasps the outstretched hand of hope.

I had the pleasure of introducing Helen H. Gardener to her first
audience, and in that introduction said a few words that I will repeat,

"We do not know, we can not say whether death is a wall or a door, the
beginning or end of a day, the spreading of pinions to soar, or the
folding forever of wings. The rise or the set of a sun, of an endless
life that brings rapture and love to every one.

"Under the seven-hued arch of hope let the dead sleep."

They will also discover, as they read the "Sacred Volume," that it is
not the friend of woman. They will find that the writers of that book,
for the most part, speak of woman as a poor beast of burden--a serf, a
drudge, a kind of necessary evil--as mere property. Surely a book that
upholds polygamy is not the friend of wife and mother.

Even Christ did not place woman on an equality with man. He said not
one word about the sacredness of home, the duties of the husband to the
wife--nothing calculated to lighten the hearts of those who bear the
saddest burdens of this life.

They will also find that the Bible has not civilized mankind. A book
that establishes and defends slavery and wanton war is not calculated to
soften the hearts of those who believe implicitly that it is the work of
God. A book that not only permits, but commands religious persecution,
has not in my judgment developed the affectional nature of man. Its
influence has been bad and bad only. It has filled the world with
bitterness, revenge, and crime, and retarded in countless ways the
progress of our race.

The writer of this little volume has read the Bible with open eyes. The
mist of sentimentality has not clouded her vision.

She has had the courage to tell the result of her investigations. She
has been quick to discover contradictions. She appreciates the humorous
side of the stupidly solemn. Her heart protests against the cruel, and
her brain rejects the childish, the unnatural, and absurd. There is no
misunderstanding between her head and heart. She says what she thinks,
and feels what she says.

No human being can answer her arguments. There is no answer. All the
priests in the world cannot explain away her objections. There is no
explanation. They should remain dumb, unless they can show that the
impossible is the probable--that slavery is better than freedom--that
polygamy is the friend of woman--that the innocent can justly suffer for
the guilty, and that to persecute for opinion's sake is an act of love
and worship.

Wives who cease to learn--who simply forget and believe, will fill the
evening of their lives with barren sighs and bitter tears. The mind
should outlast youth.

If, when beauty fades, Thought, the deft and unseen sculptor, hath not
left his subtle lines upon the face, then all is lost. No charm is left.
The light is out. There is no flame within to glorify the wrinkled clay.


Hoffman House,

New York, July 22, 1885.


IT is thought strange and particularly shocking by some persons for a
woman to question the absolute correctness of the Bible. She is supposed
to be able to go through this world with her eyes shut, and her mouth
open wide enough to swallow Jonah and the Garden of Eden without making
a wry face. It is usually recounted as one of her most beautiful traits
of character that she has faith sufficient to float the Ark without
inspecting the animals.

So it is thought strange that a woman should object to any of the
teachings of the Patriarchs. I claim, however, that if she honestly
thinks there is anything wrong about them, she has a right to say so. I
claim that I have a right to offer my objections to the Bible from the
standpoint of a woman. I think that it is fair, at least, to put the
case before you as it looks to me, using the Bible itself as my chief
witness. That Book I think degrades and belittles women, and I claim
the right to say why I think so. The opposite opinion has been stated by
hundreds of people, hundreds of times, for hundreds of years, so that it
is only fair that I be allowed to bring in a minority report.

Women have for a long time been asking for the right to an education,
for the right to live on an equal footing with their brothers, and
for the right to earn money honestly; while at the same time they have
supported a book and a religion which hold them as the inferiors of
their sons and as objects of contempt and degradation with Jehovah. They
have sustained a so-called "revelation" which holds them as inferior
and unclean things. Now it has always seemed to me that these women are
trying to stand on both sides of the fence at the same time--and that
neither foot touches.

I think they are making a mistake. I think they are making a mistake to
sustain any religion which is based upon faith. Even though a religion
claim a superhuman origin--and I believe they all claim that--it must
be tested by human reason, and if our highest moral sentiments revolt at
any of its dictates, its dictates must go. For the only good thing about
any religion is its morality, and morality has nothing to do with faith.
The one has to do with right actions in this world; the other with
unknown quantities in the next. The one is a necessity of Time; the
other a dream of Eternity. Morality depends upon universal evolution;
Faith upon special "revelation;" and no woman can afford to accept any
"revelation" that has yet been offered to this world.

That Moses or Confucius, Mohammed or Paul, Abraham or Brigham Young
asserts that his particular dogma came directly from God, and that
it was a personal communication to either or all of these favored
individuals, is a fact that can have no power over us unless their
teachings are in harmony with our highest thought, our noblest purpose,
and our purest conception of life. Which of them can bear the test?
Not one "revelation" known to man to-day can look in the face of
the nineteenth century and say, "I am parallel with your richest
development; I still lead your highest thought; none of my teachings
shock your sense of justice." Not one.

It is faith in "revelation" that makes a mother tear from her arms a
tender, helpless child and throw it in the Ganges--to appease the gods!
It is a religion of faith that teaches the despicable principle of
caste--and that religion was invented by those who profited by caste. It
was our religion of faith that sustained the institution of slavery--and
it had for its originators dealers in human flesh. It is the Mormon's
religion of faith, his belief in the Bible and in the wisdom of Solomon
and David, that enables the monster of polygamy to flaunt its power and
its filth in the face of the morality of the nineteenth century, which
has outgrown the Jehovah of the Jews.

Every religion must be tried at the bar of human justice, and stand or
fall by the verdict there. It has no right to crouch behind the theory
of "inspiration" and demand immunity from criticism; and yet that is
just what every one of them does. They all claim that we have no right
to use our reason on their inventions. But evil cannot be made good by
revelation, and good cannot be made evil by persecution.

A "revelation" that teaches us to trample on purity, or bids us despise
beauty--that gives power to vice or crushes the weak--is an evil. The
dogma that leads us to ignore our humanity, that asks us to throw away
our pleasures, that tells us to be miserable here in order that we may
be happy hereafter, is a doctrine built upon a false philosophy, cruel
in its premises and false in its promises. And the religion that teaches
us that believing Vice is holier than unbelieving Virtue is a grievous
wrong. Credulity is not a substitute for morality. Belief is not a
question of right or wrong, it is a question of mental organization. Man
cannot believe what he will, he must believe what he must. If his brain
tells him one thing and his catechism tells him another, his brain ought
to win. You don't leave your umbrella at home during a storm, simply
because the almanac calls for a clear day.

A religion that teaches a mother that she can be happy in heaven, with
her children in hell--in everlasting torment--strikes at the very roots
of family affection. It makes the human heart a stone. Love that means
no more than that, is not love at all. No heart that has ever loved can
see the object of its affection in pain and itself be happy. The thing
is impossible. Any religion that can make that possible is more to be
dreaded than war or famine or pestilence or death. It would eat out all
that is great and beautiful and good in this life. It would make life a
mockery and love a curse.

I once knew a case myself, where an eldest son who was an unbeliever
died. He had been a kind son and a good man. He had shielded his widowed
mother from every hardship. He had tried to lighten her pain and relieve
her loneliness. He had worked early and late to keep her comfortable and
happy. When he died she was heartbroken. It seemed to her more than
she could bear. As she sat and gazed at his dear face in a transport of
grief, the door opened and her preacher came in to bring her the comfort
of religion. He talked with her of her loss, and finally he said, "But
it would not be so hard for you to bear if he had been a Christian. If
he had accepted what was freely offered him you would one day see him
again. But he chose his path, he denied his Lord, and he is lost. And
now, dear madam, place your affections on your living son, who is,
thank God, saved." That was the comfort he brought her. That was the
consolation of his religion. I am telling you of an actual occurrence.
This is all a fact. Well, a few years later that dear old lady died in
her son's house, where she had gone on a visit. He broke her will--this
son who was saved--and brought in a bill against her estate for her
board and nursing while she was ill! Which one of those boys do you
think would be the best company for her in the next world?

It has always seemed to me that I would rather go to hell with a good
son than to heaven with a good Christian. I may be wrong, but with
my present light that is the way it looks to me; and for the sake of
humanity I am glad that it looks that way.


A church member said to me some time ago that even though the Bible were
not "the word of God," even though it were not necessary to believe in
the creed in order to go to heaven, it could not do any harm to believe
it; and he thought it was "best to be on the safe side, for," said he,
"suppose after all it should happen to be true!"

So he carries a church-membership as a sort of accident insurance

I do not believe we have a right to work upon that basis. It is not
honest. I do not believe that any "suppose it should be" gives us the
right to teach "I know that it is." I do not believe in the honesty
and right of any cause that has to prop up its backbone with faith, and
splinter its legs with ignorance. I do not believe in the harmlessness
of any teaching that is not based upon reason, justice, and truth. I do
not believe that it is harmless to uphold any religion that is not noble
and elevating in itself. I do not believe that it is "just as well" to
spread any dogma that stultifies reason and ignores common-sense. I
do not believe that it is ever well to compromise with dishonesty and
pretence. And I cannot admit that it "can do no harm" to teach a belief
in the goodness of a God who sends an Emerson or a Darwin to hell
because Eve was fond of fruit, and who offers a reserved seat in heaven
to Christine Cox because a mob murdered Jesus Christ. It does not seem to
me good morals, and it is certainly poor logic.

And speaking of logic, I heard a funny story the other day about one of
those absurdly literal little girls who, when she heard people say they
"wanted to be an angel," did not know it was a joke.. She thought it was
all honor-bright. She was standing by the window killing flies, and
her mother called her and said, "My child, don't you know that is very
wicked? Don't you know that God made those dear little flies, and that
he loves them?" (Just imagine an infinite God in love with a blue-bottle
fly!) Well, the little girl thought that was queer taste, but she was
sorry, and said that she would not do it any more. By and by, however,
a great lazy fly was too tempting, and her plump little finger began to
follow him around slowly on the glass, and she said, "Oh you nice big
fly, did dod made you? And does dod love you? And does you love dod?"
(Down came the finger.) "_Well, you shall see him_."

Yet we all know Christians who love God better than anything else--"with
all their hearts and soul and strength"--who prefer to postpone seeing
him till the very last minute. They say it is because they have not
"fulfilled their allotted time." Why not be honest and say it is because
they like to live? They "long to put on immortality;" but their sleep is
sounder if they live next door to a good doctor.

People say that men are infidels because it is easier--to rid themselves
of responsibility. But it seems to me that anyone who advances the
doctrine of "morality and works" instead of that of "repentance and
faith," on the ground that it is easier, is laboring under a mistake. I
don't see how any one could ask for an easier way of getting rid of his
sins than the plan that simply unloads them on to another man. I fail to
see anything hard about that--except for the man who catches the load;
and I am unable to see anything commendable about it either. But it is
not always easy for a man to be brave enough to be responsible for his
own mistakes or faults. It is not always easy for a man to say "I did
it, and I will suffer the penalty." That is not always easy, but it is
always just. No one but a coward or a knave needs to shift his personal
responsibility on to the shoulders of the dead. Honest men and women
do not need to put "Providence" up between themselves and their own

A short time ago the wife of a very devout man apparently died, but her
body remained so lifelike and her color so natural that her relatives
decided that she could not be dead, and they summoned a physician. The
husband, however, refused to have him administer any restoratives. He
said that if the Lord had permitted her to go into a trance and was
anxious to bring her out alive he would do it. Meanwhile he did not
intend to meddle with Providence. His maxim was, "Whatever else you do,
don't interfere with Providence. Give Providence a good chance and if it
doesn't come round all right for Betsy, I think I can bear it--and she
will have to."

If we take care of our motives toward each other, "Providence" will take
care of itself.

Did you ever know a pious man do a real mean thing--that succeeded--who
did not claim that Providence had a finger in it? The smaller the trick,
the bigger the finger. He is perfectly honest in his belief too. He is
the sort of man that never has a doubt about hell--and that most people
go there. Thinks they all deserve it. Has entire confidence that God is
responsible for every word in the Bible, and that all other Bibles and
all other religions are the direct work of the devil. Probably prays for
people who don't believe that way. He is perfectly honest in it. That is
simply his size, and he usually pities anybody who wears a larger hat.


But they say this is not a matter of reason. This is outside of reason,
it is all a matter of faith. But whenever a superstition claims to be
so holy that you must not use your reason about it, there is something
wrong some place. Truth is not afraid of reason, nor reason of truth.

I am going to say something to-night about why I do not believe in a
religion of faith. I am going to tell you some of the reasons why I do
not believe that the Bible is "inspired;" why I, as a woman, don't
want to think it is the word of God; why I think that women, above all
others, should not believe that it is. And since women are the bulwarks
of the churches to-day, it seems to me they have the right, and that it
is a part of their duty, to ask themselves why. Since about seven-tenths
of all church-members are women, surely the churches should not deny
them the right to use their reason (or whatever serves them in that
capacity) in regard to their own work.

I saw some ladies begging the other day for money to pay off the debt of
a $200,000 church, on the corner-stone of which were cut the words,
"My kingdom is not of this world;" and I wondered at the time what the
property would have been like if the kingdom had been of this world. It
seemed to me that a few hundred such untaxed houses would be a pretty
fair property almost anywhere.

One of our prominent bishops, when speaking recently of
church-membership, said, "The Church must recruit her ranks hereafter
almost entirely with children;" and he added, "the time has passed
when she can recruit her ranks with grown men." Good! And the New York
_Evangelist_ (one of the strongest church papers) says, "Four-fifths of
the earnest young men of this country are sceptics, distrust the clergy,
and are disgusted with evangelical Christianity." Good again.

The Congregational Club of Boston has recently been discussing the
question how to win young men to Christianity. The Rev. R. R. Meredith
said: "The churches to-day do not get the best and sharpest young
men. They get the goody-goody ones easily enough; but those who do the
thinking are not brought into the church in great numbers. You cannot
reach them by the Bible. How many did Moody touch in this city during
his revival days? You can count them on your fingers. The man who wants
them cannot get them with the Bible under his arm. He must be like them,
sharp. They cannot be gathered by sentimentality. If you say to them,
'Come to Jesus,' very likely they will reply, ''Go to thunder.' [In
Boston!] The thing to be done with such a man is to first get into his
heart, and then lead him into salvation before he knows it."

I don't know how good this recipe is, but I should infer that it is a
double-back-action affair of some sort that could get into a man's heart
and lead him into salvation before he knew it, and that if the Church
can just get a patent on that she is all right; otherwise I suspect that
the goody-goody ones are likely to be about all she will get in large

Do I need any stronger, plainer evidence than this to show that the
thought of the world is against it, and that it is time for women to ask
themselves whether a faith that can hold its own only by its grasp
upon the ignorance and credulity of children, a faith that has
made four-fifths of the earnest men sceptics, a faith that has this
deplorable effect upon Boston manners, is one that does honor to the
intellect and judgment of the women of to-day?

We hear women express indignation that the law classes them with idiots
and children; but from these orthodox statements it would seem that in
the Church they voluntarily accept about this classification themselves.
If only these church-people go to heaven, what a queer kindergarten
it will be, to be sure, with only a few male voices to join in the
choruses--and most of those tenor.

This religion and the Bible require of woman everything, and give her
nothing. They ask her support and her love, and repay her with contempt
and oppression. No wonder that four-fifths of the earnest men are
against it, for it is not manly and it is not just; and such men are
willing to free women from the ecclesiastical bondage that makes her
responsible for all the ills of life, for all the pains of deed and
creed, while it allows her no choice in their formation, no property in
their fruition. Such men are outgrowing the petty jealousies and musty
superstitions of narrow-minded dogmatists sufficiently to look upon the
question not as one of personal preference, but as one of human justice.
They do not ask, "Would _I_ like to see woman do thus or thus?"
but, "Have _I_ a right to dictate the limit of her efforts or her
energy?"--not, "Am I benefited by her ecclesiastical bondage and
credulity? Does it give me unlimited power over her?" but, "Have I
a right to keep in ignorance, have I a right to degrade, any human
intellect?" And they have answered with equal dignity and impersonal
judgment that it is the birthright of no human being to dominate or
enslave another; that it is the just lot of no human being to be born
subject to the arbitrary will or dictates of any living soul; and that
it is, after all, as great an injustice to a _man_ to make him a tyrant
as it is to make him a slave.

Whenever a man rises high enough to leave his own personality out of
the question, he has gone beyond the stage of silly platitudes. His own
dignity is too secure, his title to respect too far beyond question,
for him to need such little subterfuges to guard his position, either
as husband, as household-king, or as public benefactor. His home life is
not founded upon compulsory obedience; but is filled with the perfume of
perfect trust, the fragrance of loving admiration and respect. It is the
domestic tyrant, the egotistic mediocre, and the superstitious Church
that are afraid for women to think, that fear to lose her as worshipper
and serf.

You need go only a very little way back in history to learn that the
Church decided that a woman who learned the alphabet overstepped all
bounds of propriety, and that she would be wholly lost to shame who
should so far forget her modesty as to become acquainted with the
multiplication table.

And to-day, if she offers her opinion and her logic for what they are
worth, the clergy preach doleful sermons about her losing her beautiful
home character, about her innocence being gone, about their idea of her
glorious exaltation as wife and mother being destroyed. Then they grow
florid and exclaim that "man is after all subject to her, that he is
born for the rugged path and she for the couch of flowers!"*

     * "A pertinacious adversary, pushed to extremities, may say
     that husbands indeed are willing to be reasonable, and to
     make fair concessions to their partners without being
     compelled to it, but that wives are not; that if allowed any
     rights of their own, they will acknowledge no rights at all
     in any one else, and never will yield in anything, unless
     they can be compelled, by the man's mere authority, to yield
     in everything. This would have been said by many persons
     some generations ago, when satires on women were in vogue,
     and men thought it a clever thing to insult women for being
     what men made them.   But it will be said by no one now who
     is worth replying to. It is not the doctrine of the present
     day that women are less susceptible of good feeling and
     consideration for those with whom they are united by the
     strongest ties, than men are. On the contrary, we are
     perpetually told that women are better than men by those who
     are totally opposed to treating them as if they were as
     good; so that the saying has passed into a piece of tiresome
     cant, intended to put a complimentary face upon an injury."
     --John Stuart Mill.

You recognize it all, I see. You seem to have heard it somewhere before.
I recall one occasion when I heard it from a country clergyman, who knew
so much about heaven and hell that he hardly had time to know enough
about this world to enable him to keep out of the fire unless he was
tied to a chair. It was in the summer of 1876, and I remember the
conversation began by his asking a lady in the room about the Centennial
display, from which she had just returned. He asked her if she would
advise him to take his daughter. She said she thought it would be a very
nice thing for the girl, and she added, "It will be good for you. You
will see so much that is new and wonderful. It will be of use to you in
your work, I am sure." He said, "Well, I don't know about that. There
won't be anything much that is new to me. I've seen it all. _I was
in Philadelphia in 1840_." Then he gave us quite a talk on "woman's
sphere." He could tell you in five minutes just what it was; and the
amount of information that man possessed about the next world was simply
astonishing. He knew pretty nearly everything. I think he could tell
you, within a fraction or two, just how much material it took to make
wings for John the Baptist, and whether Paul sings bass or tenor. His
presbytery says he is a most remarkable theologian--and I don't doubt
it. According to the law of compensation, however, what he does not know
about this world would make a very comprehensive encyclopedia.

But seriously, did it ever occur to you to ask any of these divine
oracles why, if all these recent compliments are true about the superior
beauty and virtue and truth and power resting with women--why it is that
they always desire as heirs sons rather than daughters? You would think
their whole desire would be for girls, and that, like Oliver Twist,
their chief regret would be that they hadn't "more." But the Bible (and
the clergy, until quite recently) pronounces it twice as great a crime
to be the mother of a girl as to be the mother of a boy. A crime to be
the mother of a little child--a double crime if the child should be a

     * See Appendix K.

It is often urged that women are better off under the Christian than
under any other religion; that our Bible is more just to her than
other Bibles are. For the time we will grant this, and respectfully
inquire--what does it prove? If it proves anything it is this--that
all "divine revelations" are an indignity to women, and that they had
better stick to nature. Nature may be exacting, but she is not partial.
If it proves anything, it is that all religions have been made by men
for men and through men. I do not contend for the superiority of other
Bibles, I simply protest against the wrong in ours. One wrong cannot
excuse another. That murder is worse than arson does not make a hero of
the rascal who fires our homes. If Allah were more cruel than Jehovah,
that would be no palliation of the awful crimes of the Old Testament.
That slaves have better clothes than savages cannot make noble traffic
in human blood. A choice of evils is often necessary, but it does not
make either of them a good. But there is no book which tells of a more
infamous monster than the Old Testament, with its Jehovah of murder and
cruelty and revenge, unless it be the New Testament, which arms its God
with hell, and extends his outrages throughout all eternity!


Another argument is that if orthodox Christianity were not good for
women they would not support and cling to it; if it did not comfort them
they would discard it. In reply to that I need only recall to you the
fact that it is the same in all religions. Women have ever been the
stanchest defenders of the faith, the most bitter haters of an infidel,
the most certain that their form of faith is the only truth.* Yet I do
not hear this fact advanced to prove the divinity of the Koran or the
book of Mormon. If it is a valid argument in the one case it is valid in
the others. The trouble with it is it proves too much. It takes in the
whole field. It does not leave a weed, from the first incantation of the
first aborigine to the last shout of the last convert to Mormonism, out
of its range; and it does, and always has done, just as good service
for any one of the other religions as it does for ours. It is a
free-for-all, go-as-you-please argument; but it is the sort of chaff
they feed theological students on--and they sift it over for women. It
is pretty light diet when it gets to them--but it is filling.

     * See Appendix G.

Recently I heard a clergyman give the following as his reason for
opposing medical, or scientific training of any sort, for women: "Now
her whole energy and force of action (outside of the family) must be
expended upon religion. If she were allowed other fields of action
or thought, her energy, like that of man, would be withdrawn from and
_fatally cripple the Church_."

To me, however, it seems that any organization that finds it necessary
to cripple its adherents in order to keep them has a screw loose

And it also seems to me that it is time for women to try to find out
where the trouble is. They will not want for aid from the men
who think--the men who hold self vastly inferior to principle and
justice--the rare noblemen of nature, honorable, fair, just, tender,
and thoughtful men--men who love to see the weakest share with them the
benefits of freedom--men who know that they are not the less men because
they are tender, that women are not the less women because they are
strong; and no land under the sky holds so many such as ours.


It seemed to me that the time had come when women should know for
themselves what the Bible teaches for them and what the pulpit has
upheld; so I have looked it up a little, and although I cannot soil my
lips nor your ears with much of it, there is enough, I think, that I may
use to make any self-respecting, pure woman blush that she has sustained
it by word or act.

The Bible teaches that a father may sell his daughter for a slave,* that
he may sacrifice her purity to a mob,** 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 change
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.

     * Ex. xxi. 7.

     ** Judges xix. 24; Gen. xix. 8

If the Bible were strictly followed, women and negroes would still be
publicly bought and sold in America. If it were believed in as it once
was, if the Church had the power she once had, I should never see the
light of another day, and your lives would be made a hell for sitting
here to-night. The iron grasp of superstition would hold you and your
children forever over the bottomless pit of religious persecution, and
cover your fair fame with infamous slander, because you dared to sit
here and hear me strike a blow at infinite injustice.

Every injustice that has ever been fastened upon women in a Christian
country has been "authorized by the Bible" and riveted and perpetuated
by the pulpit. That seems strong language, no doubt; but I shall give
you an opportunity to decide as to its truth. I will now bring my
witnesses. They are from the "inspired word" itself, and therefore
must be all that could be desired. I will read you a short passage from
Exodus xx. 22; xxi. 7-8:

     22  And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto
     the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I talked with you
     from heaven. ********

     7  _And if a man sell his daughter_ to be a maid-servant,
     she shall not go out as the men-servants do.

     8  If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to
     himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her
     unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath
     dealt deceitfully with her.

The Lord doesn't object to a man selling his daughter, but if any one
thing makes him angrier than another it is to have her go about as the
men-servants do after she is sold. On a little point like that he is
absolutely fastidious. You may here notice that God took the trouble
to come down from heaven to tell the girl what not to do after she was
sold. He forgot to suggest to her father that it might be as well not
to sell her at all. He forgot that. But in an important conversation one
often overlooks little details. The next is Joshua xv. 16-17:

     16   And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and
     taketh it to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.

     17   And Othniel the brother of Caleb [and consequently the
     girl's uncle] took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter
     to wife.

Please to remember that the said Caleb was one of God's intimates--a
favorite with the Almighty. The girl was not consulted; the father paid
off his warriors in female scrip. The next is Gen. xix. 5-8:

     5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where _are_
     the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out
     unto us that we may know them,

     6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door
     after him,

     7  And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.

     8  Behold now, I have two daughters        * * * * * let me,
     I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is
     good in your eyes; only unto these men do nothing; for
     therefore came they under the shadow of my root

These men had come under the shadow of Lot's roof for protection, it
seems, and Lot felt that his honor demanded that he should shield them
even at the cost of the purity and safety of his own daughters! Do you
know I have always had a mild curiosity to know what his daughters were
under the shadow of his roof for. It could not have been for protection,
I judge, since Lot was one of God's best friends. He was on all sorts of
intimate terms with the Deity--knew things were going to happen before
they came--was the only man good enough to save from a doomed city--the
only one whose acts pleased God; and this act seems to have been
particularly satisfactory. These men were "angels of God" who required
this infamy for their protection! If it takes all the honor out of a man
when he gets to be an angel, they may use my wings for a feather-duster.

Now here is a little property law. Num. xxvii.:

     6 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

     8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying,
     If a man die, _and have no son_, then ye shall cause his
     inheritance to pass unto his daughter.

And our law works a little that way yet; being the result of
ecclesiastical law it naturally would.*

     * See Appendix N. 5 and P. 5.

Next we have Num. xxxvi.:

     8  And every daughter that possesseth an inheritance in any
     tribe of the children of Israel,  _shall be wife_ unto one
     of the family of the tribe of her father, _that the children
     of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his

     9 Neither shall the inheritance remove from _one_ tribe to
     another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children
     of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.

     10 _Even as the Lord commanded Moses, so did the daughters
     of Zelophehad_.

That is all the women were for--articles of conveyance for property.
Save the land, no matter about the girls. Now these silly women actually
believed that God told Moses whom they had to marry just because Moses
said so! I tell you, ladies and gentlemen, it is not safe to take
heavenly communications at second-hand. Second-hand articles are likely
to be varnished over, and have to be taken at a discount. And it seems
to me that, if the Lord is at all particular as to whom a girl should
marry, she is the one for him to discuss the matter with. Moses didn't
have to live with the _sons_ of Zelophehad, and consequently wasn't the
one to talk the matter over with. But, you see, it won't do to question
what Moses said God told him, because upon his veracity the whole
structure is built. He had more personal interviews with the Deity than
any other man--he and Solomon--and hence they are the best authority.

I have here the 31st chapter of Numbers, but it is unfit to read. It
tells a story of shame and crime unequalled in atrocity. It tells
that God commanded Moses and Eleazar, the priest, to produce vice and
perpetrate crime on an unparalleled scale. _It tells us that they obeyed
the order, and that 16,000 helpless girls were dragged in the mire of
infamy and divided amongst the victorious soldiers_. They were made
dissolute by force, and by direct command of God!

This one chapter stamps as false, forever, the claim of inspiration for
the Bible. That one chapter would settle it for me. Do you believe that
God told Moses that? Do you believe there is a God who is a thief, a
murderer, and a defiler of innocent girls? Do you believe it? Yet this
religion is built upon Moses' word, and woman's position was established
by him. It seems to me time for women to retire Moses from active
life. Coax him to resign on account of his health. Return him to his
constituency. He has been on the supreme bench long enough. Don't
let your children believe in such a God. Better let them believe in
annihilation. Better let them think that the sleep of death is the end
of all! Better, much better, let them believe that the tender kiss
at parting is the last of all consciousness for them, and after that
eternal rest! Don't let their hearts be seared, their lives clouded,
their intellects dwarfed by the cruel dread of the God of Moses! Better,
thrice better, let the cold earth close over the loved and loving dust
forever, than that it should enter the portals of infinite tyranny.

Next we will take Deut. xx. 10-16:

     10  When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it,
     then proclaim peace unto it.   [Good scheme!]

     11  And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and
     open unto thee, then it shall be, _that_ all the people
     _that_ is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and
     they shall serve thee.

     12  And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make
     war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:

     13  _And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thy
     hands_, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of
     the sword:

     14   But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and
     all that is in the city, _even_ all the spoil thereof,
     _shalt thou take unto thyself_; and thou shalt eat the spoil
     of thy enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.

     15  Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very
     far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these

     16  But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy
     God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive
     nothing that breatheth.

The injunction to proclaim peace unto a city about to be attacked and
plundered strikes me as a particularly brilliant idea. When you go
to rob and murder a man, just tell him to keep cool and behave like a
gentleman and you won't do a thing to him but steal all his property and
cut his throat and retire in good order, God always seemed to fight on
the side of the man who would murder most of his fellow-men and degrade
the greatest number of women. He seemed, in fact, to rather insist on
this point if he was particular about nothing else. And, by the way,
if you had happened to live in one of those cities, what opinion do you
think you would have had of Jehovah? Would he have impressed you as a
loving Father? Here we have 2 Samuel v. 10, 12-13:

     10 And David went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of
     hosts was with him.

     12  And David perceived that the Lord had established him
     king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for
     his people Israel's sake.

     13  And David took him more concubines and wives out of
     Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet
     sons and daughters born to David.

The nearer he got to God--the more God was "with him," the more wives he
wanted. Next we have 2 Samuel xx. 3:

     3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem, and the king
     took the ten women, his concubines, whom he had left to keep
     the house, and put them in ward, and fed them * * * * * So
     they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in

Now what did David do that for? I don't know. It was such a trifling
little matter that it was not thought necessary to give any reason.
Perhaps he had eaten too much pie and felt cross; and what else were
those women for but to be made stand around on such occasions? Weren't
they his property? Didn't those ten women belong to David? Hadn't he a
perfect right to shut them up and feed them if he wanted to? Don't you
think it was kind of him to feed them? I wonder if he sang any of his
psalms to them through the key-hole. His son Absalom had just been
killed, and he felt miserable about that. He had just delivered himself
of that touching apostrophe we often hear repeated from the pulpit
to-day, to awaken sympathy for God's afflicted prophet: "O my son
Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O
Absalom, my son, my son!" And I haven't a doubt that there were at least
ten women who echoed that wish most heartily. It must have been carried
in the family without a dissenting vote.

To this God of the Bible a woman may not go unless her father or husband
consents. She can't even promise to be good without asking permission.
This God holds no communication with women unless their male relations
approve. He wants to be on the safe side, I suppose. I'll read you
about that. It is in one of the chapters that are not commonly cited as
evidence that God is no respecter of persons, and that the Bible holds
woman as man's equal; nevertheless it is as worthy of belief as any
of the rest of it, and its "Thus saith the Lord" and "as the Lord
commanded Moses" are "frequent and painful and free," as Mr. Bret Harte
might say. The chapter is Numbers xxx.:

     And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the
     children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the Lord
     hath commanded.

     2  If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to
     bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he
     shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

     3  If a woman also vow a vow unto the Lord, and bind herself
     by a bond, being in her father's house in her youth;

     4  And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she
     hath; bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at
     her; then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith
     she hath bound her soul shall stand.

     5  But if her father disallow her in the day that he
     heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she
     hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the Lord shall forgive
     her, because her father disallowed her.

     6  And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or
     uttered aught out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul;

     7  And her husband heard _it_, and held his peace at her in
     the day that he heard _it_; then her vows shall stand, and
     her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand.

     8  But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he
     heard _it_; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and
     that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound
     her soul, of none effect: and the Lord shall forgive her.

     9  But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced,
     wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against

     10  And if she vowed in her husband's house, or bound her
     soul by a bond with an oath;

     11  And her husband heard _it_, and held his peace at her,
     _and_ disallowed her not; then all her vows shall stand, and
     every bond wherewith she hound her soul shall stand.

     12  But if her husband hath utterly made them void on the
     day he heard _them_; then whatsoever proceeded out of her
     lips concerning her vows, or concerning the bond of her
     soul, shall not stand: her husband hath made them void; and
     the Lord shall forgive her.

     13  Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul,
     her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it

     14  But if the husband altogether hold his peace at her from
     day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her
     bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he
     held his peace at her in the day that he heard them.

     15  But if he shall any ways make them void after that he
     hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity.

     16  These are the statutes, which the Lord commanded Moses,
     between a man and his wife, between the father and his
     daughter, _being yet_ in her youth in her father's house.

Between man and his God they tell us there is no one but a Redeemer; but
between woman and man's God there seems to be all her male relations,
which, I should think, would prevent any very close intimacy. And by the
time the divine commands to woman were filtered through the entire
male population, from Moses to the last gentleman who, in the confusion
natural to the occasion, misquotes "with all _thy_ worldly goods I _me_
endow," I should think it not impossible that some slight errors may
have crept in, and the Church should not feel offended if I were to aid
her in their detection.

Here we have two or three passages that are said to be the words of
Jesus. I hope that is not true. But I, believing him to have been a man,
can understand how they might have been the words of even a very good
man in that age and with his surroundings; but the words of a perfect
being--never! Of course I know that we have no positive knowledge of any
of the words of Jesus, since no one pretends that they were ever
written down until long after his death; but I am dealing now with the
theological creation upon the theologian's own grounds. My own idea of
Jesus places him far above the myth that bears his name.

     3  And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto
     him, They have no wine.

     4 Jesus saith unto her, _Woman, what have I to do with

     --John ii, 3-4.

I hope that Christ did not say that--for his manhood I hope so. I would
rather believe that this is the mistake of some "uninspired" writer than
think that one who in much had so gentle and tender a nature, was
unkind and brutal to his mother. No one would attempt, in this age, to
apologize for such a reply to so simple a remark made by a mother to her
son. But they say "he was divine." They also tell us he was a perfect
example; but with this evidence before me, I am glad our men are human.
Still I cannot pretend to say that this is not divine--never having made
any divine acquaintances. I can only say, humanity is better.

Then again he is reported to have said a most cruel thing to the
broken-hearted mother of a dying child, and I would rather believe the
Bible uninspired and keep my respect for Jesus, the man. It will be
better for this world to believe in Jesus, the brave, earnest man, than
in Jesus, the cruel God.

     21  Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of
     Tyre and Sidon.

     22  And behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same
     coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O
     Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed
     with a devil.

     23  But he answered her not a word.

     25 Then came she and worshiped him, saying, Lord, help me.

     26  But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the
     children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

     27  And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the
     crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

     --Matt. xv.

Do you think that was kind? Do you think it was godlike? What would
you think of a physician, if a woman came to him distressed and said,
"Doctor, come to my daughter; she is very ill. She has lost her reason,
and she is all I have!" What would you think of the doctor who would not
reply at all at first, and then, when she fell at his feet and worshiped
him, answered that he did not spend his time doctoring dogs? Would you
like him as a family physician? Do you think that, even if he were to
cure the child then, he would have done a noble thing? Is it evidence of
a perfect character to accompany a service with an insult? Do you think
a man who could offer such an indignity to a sorrowing mother has a
perfect character, is an ideal God? I do not. And I hope that Jesus
never said it. I prefer to believe that that story is a libel.

It won't do. We have either to give up the "inspiration" theory of the
Bible, and acknowledge that it is the work of men of a crude and brutal
age, and like any other book of legend and myth of any other people; or
else to give up the claim that God is any better than the rest of us.
You can take your choice.

Whenever a theologian undertakes to explain matters so as to keep the
Bible and the divine character both intact, I am always reminded of
the story of the Irishman who was given a bed in the second story of
a lodging-house the first night he spent in New York. In the night the
fire-engines ran past with their frightful noise. Aroused from a deep
sleep and utterly terrified, Mike's first thought was to get out of
the house. He hastily jerked on the most important part of his costume,
unfortunately wrong side before, and jumped out of the window. His friend
ran to the window and exclaimed, "Are ye kilt, Mike?" Picking himself up
and looking himself over by the light of the street lamp, he replied,
"No, not kilt, Pat, but I fear I am_ fatally twishted_."

Next we have God's opinion (on Bible authority) as to the use of wives.
They were to be forcibly changed around _as a punishment to their
husbands_ and for offences committed by the latter.

     11 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against
     thee out of thy own house, and I will take thy wives before
     thy eyes and give them unto thy neighbor.

     --2 Sam. xii.

The latter part of the verse is omitted as being unfit to read. Don't
understand that I think any of it is exactly choice literature; but that
cover has been used to silence objection long enough. If it is fit to
teach as the word and will of God for women, it ought to be fit to read
in a theatre--but it is not.

What do you think of a religion that upholds such morals and such
justice as that just quoted? What do you think of women supporting the
Bible in the face of that as the will of God? Of all human beings a
woman should spurn the Bible first. She, above all others, should try
to destroy its influence; and I mean to do what little I can in that
direction. The morals of the nineteenth century have outgrown the Bible.
Jehovah stands condemned before the bar of every noble soul. What Moses
and David and Samuel taught as the word and will of God, we, who are
fortunate enough to live in the same age with Charles Darwin, know to
be the expression of a low social condition untempered by the light of
science. Their "thus saith the Lord," read in the light of to-day, is
"thus saith ignorance and fear"--no more, no less.

If you will read the 12th chapter of Leviticus, which is unfit to read
here, you will see that the Bible esteems it twice as great a crime to
be the mother of a girl as to be the mother of a boy; so highly esteemed
was woman by the priesthood; so great a favorite was she of Jehovah.*

     * See Appendix K.

And do you know there is a law in the Bible* which "the Lord spake unto
Moses" that says if a man is jealous of his wife, "whether he have cause
or not," he is to take her to a priest, and take a little barley meal
(if you ever want to try it, remember it must be barley meal; I don't
suppose the priest could tell whether she was guilty or not if you were
to take corn meal or hominy grits) and put it in the wife's hands. And
the priest is to take some "holy" water and scrape up the dirt off the
floor of the Tabernacle, and put the dirt in the water and make the
wife drink it. Now just imagine an infinite God getting up a scheme like
that! Then the priest curses her and says if she is guilty she shall
rot.... "and she shall say Amen." That is her defence! Then the priest
takes the stuff she has in her hands--this barley-meal "jealousy
offering"--and "waves it before the Lord." (I suppose you all know what
that part is done for. If you don't, ask some theological student with
a number six hat-band; he'll tell you.) And then he burns a pinch of it
(that is probably for luck), and at this point it is time to make the
woman drink some more of the filthy water (which he does with great
alacrity), and "if she be guilty the water will turn bitter within
her,"... "and she shall be accursed among her people." (You doubtless
perceive that her defence has been most elaborate throughout.) Do you
think that water would be bitter to the priest?

     *See Numbers v. 11-31.

But if she does not complain that the water is bitter, and if her "Amen"
is perfectly satisfactory all round, and she be pronounced innocent,
what then? Is the husband in any way reproved for his brutality? Did the
Lord "reveal" to Moses that he should drink the rest of that holy water
and dirt? No! That wasn't in Moses' line. Neither he nor the husband
drink the rest of that water--priest doesn't either; they don't even
take a pinch of the barley. But after she is subjected to this, and the
show is over, "if she be innocent, then shall she go free!" Oh, ye
gods! what magnificent generosity! I should have thought they would have
hanged her then for being innocent.

"And then shall the man be guiltless of iniquity, and the woman shall
bear her iniquity."

_If she is innocent she shall bear her iniquity_. You all see how that
is done I suppose. If you don't, ask your little number six theological
student, and he will tell you all about it, and he will also prove to
you, without being asked, that he and God are capable of regulating the
entire universe without the aid of General Butler.

But I am told that I ought to respect and love the Bible; that all women
ought to take an active part in teaching it to the heathen, to show
them how good Jehovah is to his daughters. But if he is, he has been
unusually unfortunate in his choice of executors.

Nor is it only in the Old Testament that such morals and such justice
are taught. The clergy put that part off by saying--"Oh, that was
a different dispensation, and God, the Unchangeable, has changed his
mind." That is the sole excuse they give for all the "holy" men, who
used to talk personally with God, practicing polygamy and all the
other immoralities. They maintain that it was God's best man who upheld
polygamy then, and that it is the Devil's best man who does it now.
Odd idea, isn't it? Simply a question of time and place; and as Col.
Ingersoll says, you have got to look on a map to see whether you are
damned or not. But it does seem to me that a God that did not always
know better than that, is not a safe chief magistrate. He might take to
those views again, They say history is likely to repeat itself. Anyhow,
I would rather be on the safe side and just fix the laws so that he
couldn't. It would be just as well.

But now we have come to "St." Paul and his ideas on the woman question.
He worked the whole problem by simple proportion and found that man
stands in the same relation to woman as God stands to man. That is, man
is to woman as God is to man--and only a slight remainder. I'm not going
to misrepresent this gifted saint. I shall let him speak for himself. He
does it pretty well for a saint, and much more plainly than they usually

     33  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, _as
     unto the Lord,_

     33 For the husband is the head of the wife, _even as Christ
     is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the

     --Ephesians v.

The husband is the saviour of the wife! Pretty slim hold on heaven for
most women, isn't it? And then suppose she hasn't any husband? Her case
is fatal.

     34  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let
     the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

     --Ephesians v.

Paul was a modest person in his requirements.

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel,
with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or
pearls, or costly array.

--1 Timothy ii.

It does seem as if anybody would know that braided hair was wicked; and
as to "gold and pearls and costly array," all you have to do to prove
the infallibility of Paul--and what absolute faith Christians have in
it!--is to go into any fashionable church and observe the absence of all
such sinfulness:

     10  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with
     good works.

     11  _Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection_.

     12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority
     over the man, but to be in silence.

     13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

     14 And _Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived_
     was in the transgression.

     --1 Timothy ii.

According to the reasoning of verse 13 man should be subject to all the
lower animals, because they were first formed, and then Adam. Verse 14
tells us that Adam sinned knowingly; Eve was deceived, so she deserves
punishment. Now I like that. If you commit a crime understandingly it is
all right. If you are deceived into doing it you ought to be damned. The
law says, "The criminality of an act resides in the intent;" but more
than likely St. Paul was not up in Blackstone and did not use Coke.

This next is St. Peter, and I believe this is one of the few topics
upon which the infallible Peter and the equally infallible Paul did not

     Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands;
     that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the
     word be won by the conversation of the wives;

     2  While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with

     --1 Peter iii.

I should think that would be a winning card. If the conversation of a
wife, coupled with a good deal of fear, would not convert a man, he is a
hopeless case.

But here is Paul again, in all his mathematical glory, and mortally
afraid that women won't do themselves honor.

     3  But I would have you know, that the head of every man is
     Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head
     of Christ is God.

     4  Every man praying or prophesying, having his head
     covered, dishonoreth his head.

     5  But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head
     uncovered, dishonoreth her head; for that is even all one as
     if she were shaven.

     6  For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn:
     but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let
     her be covered.

     7  For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch
     as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the
     glory of the man:

     8  For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the

     9  Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman
     for the man.
     --1 Cor. xi.

And that settles it, I suppose. But what on earth was man created for? I
should not think it could have been just for fun.

     34 Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is
     not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to
     be under obedience, as also saith the law.

     35  And if they will learn anything, let them ask their
     husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in
     the church.

     --1 Cor. xiv.

That is a principle that should entitle St. Paul to the profound
admiration of women. And yet, when I come to think of it, I don't know
which one gets the worst of that either. Whenever you want to know
anything, ask your husband, at home! No wonder most husbands don't have
time to stay at home much. No wonder they have to see a man so often.
It would unseat any man's reason if he lived in constant fear that he
might, any minute, be required to explain to a woman of sense, how death
could have been brought into this world by Eve, when every one knows
that long before man could have lived upon this earth animals lived and
died. It would make any man remember that he had to "catch a car" if he
were asked suddenly to explain the doctrine of the Trinity. I would not
blame the most sturdy theologian for remembering that it was club night,
if his wife were to ask him, unexpectedly, how Nebuchadnezzar, with his
inexperience, could digest grass with only one stomach, when it takes
four for the oxen that are used to it. That may account, however, for
his hair turning to feathers.

I don't believe St. Paul could have realized what a diabolical position
he was placing husbands in, when he told wives to ask them every time
they wanted to know anything--unless he wanted to make marriage
unpopular. There is one thing certain, he was careful not to try it
himself, which looks much as if he had some realizing sense of what he
had cut out for husbands to do, and felt that there were some men who
would rather be drafted--and then send a substitute.

But why are his commands not followed to-day? Why are not the words,
sister, mother, daughter, wife, only names for degradation And dishonor?

Because men have grown more honorable than their religion, and
the strong arm of the law, supported by the stronger arm of public
sentiment, demands greater justice than St. Paul ever dreamed of.
Because men are growing grand enough to recognize the fact that right
is not masculine only, and that justice knows no sex. And because the
Church no longer makes the laws. Saints have been retired from the legal
profession. I can't recall the name of a single one who is practicing
law now. Have any of you ever met a saint at the bar?

Women are indebted to-day for their emancipation from a position of
hopeless degradation, not to their religion nor to Jehovah, but to the
justice and honor of the men who have defied his commands. That she does
not crouch to-day where Saint Paul tried to bind her, she owes to the
men who are grand and brave enough to ignore St. Paul, and rise superior
to his God.

And remember that I have not read you the worst stories of the Bible.
The greater number of those which refer to women are wholly unfit to
read here. Are you willing to think they are the word of God? I am not.
Believe in a God if you will, but do not degrade him by accepting an
interpretation of him that would do injustice to Mephistopheles! Have
a religion if you desire, but demand that it be free from impurity and
lies, and that it be just. Exercise faith if you must, but temper it
wisely with reason. Do not allow ministers to tell you stories that are
sillier than fairy tales, more brutal than barbaric warfare, and too
unclean to be read, and then assure you that they are the word of God.
Use your reason; and when you are told that God came down and talked to
Moses behind a bush, and told him to murder several thousand innocent
people; when you are told that he created a vast universe and filled it
with people upon all of whom he placed a never-ending curse because of a
trivial disobedience of one; give him the benefit of a reasonable doubt
and save your reputation for slander.

Now just stop and think about it. Don't you think that if a God had come
down and talked to Moses he would have had something more important to
discuss than the arrangement of window curtains and the cooking of a
sheep? Since Moses was the leader of God's people, their lawgiver,
the guardian of their morals, don't you think that the few minutes of
conversation could have been better spent in calling attention to some
of the little moral delinquencies of Moses himself? Don't you think
it would have been more natural for an infinite and just ruler to have
mentioned the impropriety of murdering so many men, and degrading so
many young girls to a life worse than that of the vilest quarter of any
infamous dive, than to have occupied the time in trivial details about
a trumpery jewel-box? Since God elected such a man as Moses to guide
and govern his people, does it not seem natural that he would have given
more thought to the moral worth and practices of his representative on
earth, than to the particular age at which to kill a calf? If he were
going to take the trouble to say anything, would it not seem more
natural that he should say something important?

In his numerous chats with Solomon, don't you think he could have added
somewhat to that gentleman's phenomenal wisdom by just hinting to him
that he had a few more wives than were absolutely necessary? He had a
thousand we are told, which leaves Brigham Young away behind. Yet there
are Christians to-day who teach their children that Solomon was the
wisest man who ever lived, and that Brigham Young was very close to the
biggest fool. It is not strange that some of these children infer that
the trouble with Brigham was that he had not wives enough, and that
if he had only married the whole state of Massachusetts he and Solomon
would now occupy adjoining seats on the other shore, and use the same

Do you believe for one moment that a God ever talked with any man and
told him to murder a whole nation of men, to steal their property, to
butcher in cold blood the mothers, and to give the young girls to a camp
of brutal soldiers--_and that he helped to do it?_ Do you believe any
God ever told a man to give so many of those girls to one tribe, so
many to another, and to burn so many as an offering to himself? Do you
believe it? I don't. Would you worship him if he had? I would not.

And yet it is true that he did help in such work, or else the word
of Moses is not worth a nickel. God did this, or else our religion is
founded upon a fraud. He did it, or orthodoxy is a mistake. He did it,
or the Bible is an imposition. If it is true, no woman should submit to
such a fiend for an hour; if it is false, let her unclasp the clutches
of the superstition which is built upon her dishonor and nourished by
her hand.

They say it is a shame for a woman to attack the Bible. I say she is
the one who should do it. It is she who has everything to gain by its
overthrow. It is she who has everything to lose by its support. They
tell me it is the word and will of God. I do not, I cannot, believe
it! And it does seem to me that nothing but lack of moral perception
or mental capacity could enable any human being who was honest (and not
scared) to either respect or believe in such a God.

As a collection of ingenious stories, as a record of folly and
wickedness, as a curious and valuable old literary work, keep the Bible
in the library. But put it on the top shelf--or just behind it, and
don't let the children see it until they are old enough to read it
with discrimination. As a mythological work it is no worse than several
others. As a divine revelation it is simply monstrous.

Among your other tales you might tell the children some from it. You
might tell them that at one time a man got mad at another man, and
caught three hundred foxes, and set fire to their tails (they standing
still the while), and then turned them loose into the other man's corn,
and burned it all up. If they don't know much about foxes, and have
never experimented in burning live hair, they may think it is a pretty
good story. But I would not tell them that the man who got up that
torch-light procession was a good man. I would not tell them that he was
one of God's most intimate friends; because even if they think he had a
right to burn his enemy's crops, I don't believe that any right-minded
child would think it was fair to the foxes.


Some time ago I went to hear a noted minister, who preached a sermon
about the "fruit of the tree of knowledge" to a congregation composed,
as most congregations are, chiefly of women. Yet his sermon was a
monument of insult, bigotry, and dogmatic intolerance that would have
done honor to a witch-hunter several centuries ago. That women will
subject themselves to such insults week after week, and that there are
still men who will condescend to offer them, is a sad commentary upon
their self-respect as well as upon the degrading influence of their

Why will they listen to such nonsense? Perhaps woman was made of a rib
and so should be held as flesh and blood only, devoid of intellect. But
I don't know that she was; I was not there to see, and, in fact, none of
my family were; and since they tell us that the only gentleman present
upon that interesting occasion was asleep, I don't know who could have
told the story in the first place.

It is always a surprise to me that women will sit, year after year, and
be told that, because of a story as silly and childish as it is unjust,
she is responsible for all the ills of life; that because, forsooth,
some thousands of years ago a woman was so horribly wicked as to eat an
apple, she must and should occupy a humble and penitent position, and
remain forever subject to the dictates of ecclesiastical pretenders. It
is so silly, so childish, that for people of sense to accept it seems
almost incredible.

According to the story, she was deceived. According to the story, she
believed that she was doing a thing which would give greater knowledge
and a broader life, and she had the courage to try for it. According to
the story, she first evinced the desire to be more and wiser than a mere
brute, and incidentally gave her husband an opportunity to invent the
first human lie (a privilege still dear to the heart), a field which up
to that time had been exclusively worked by the reptiles. But they never
got a chance at it again. From the time that Adam entered the lists,
competition was too lively for any of the lower animals to stand a ghost
of a chance at it, and that may account for the fact that, from that
time to this, nobody has ever heard a snake tell a lie or volunteer
information to a woman. The Church has had a monopoly of these
profitable perquisites ever since. The serpent never tried it again. He
turned woman over to the clergy, and from that time to this they have
been the instructors who have told her which apple to bite, and how big
a bite to take. She has never had a chance since to change her diet.
From that day to this she has had apple pie, stewed apple, dried apple,
baked apple, apple-jack, and cider; and this clergyman that I heard,
started out fresh on apple-sauce. He seemed to think--"anything for a
change." You would have thought, to hear him, that the very worst
thing that ever happened to this world was the birth of the desire
for knowledge, and that such desire in woman had been the curse of all

But it seems to me that if in this day of intelligence a minister
preaches or acts upon such dogmas, women should scorn him both as a
teacher and as a man. If a creed or Church upholds such doctrines they
should shun it as they would a pest-house. If any system or any book
of religion teaches such principles they should exert every effort to
utterly destroy its influence. I want to do what I can to show women
that the mercury of self-respect must fall several degrees at the church
door, and that the light of reason must go out.

In this sermon that I speak of, we were warned "not to be wise above
that which is written." As if a man should bind his thoughts and
knowledge down to what was known, believed, or written in ages past!
As though a man should fear and tremble, should hesitate to reach out
after, to labor to know, all that his intellect and energy can compass.
As though to be good he must accept situations, sentiments, ideas
ready-made, and dwarf his intellect and bind his mental ability by the
capacity of somebody else.

"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

"He that hath eyes to see, let him see."

And he that hath a brain to think, let him think. What is his intellect
for? Why is his mind one vast interrogation point? Why should not Eve
have grasped with eagerness the fruit of the tree of knowledge?

A taste of the fruit of the tree of knowledge does drive man from the
paradise of ignorance, does send him forth a laborer in the vast fields
of speculation and thought, where there is no rest, and no possibility
of the cessation of labor so long as his energies and his love of truth
remain to impel him to the conquest of the infinite domain that lies
unexplored beyond.

But would any man sell what is gained in liberty, in strength, in
breadth, in conscious superiority, for the delights which every brute
has left him in his stagnant paradise of ignorance and rest? What man
in this nineteenth century can unblushingly say he would not choose the
labor with all its pain, the effort with all its failure, the struggle
with all its exhaustion? Why try to bind the human mind by the silly
theory that a God requires man to crush out or subject the intellect he
has given him? Whatever religion may have gained by such a course, think
what morality and progress have lost by it!

What has not woman lost by that silly fable which made her responsible
for transgression? Honor her for it! Honor her the more if it was she
who first dared the struggle rather than lose her freedom or crush her
reason. _If_ she learned first that the price of ignorance and slavery
was too great to pay for the luxury of idleness--honor her for it. The
acceptance of such contemptible stories, as told by the clergy _in
all ages and in all religions_ as the "word of God," has done more to
enslave and injure women's intellects, and to brutalize men, than has
been done by any other influence; and our boasted superior civilization
is not the result of the Christian religion, but has been won step
by step in despite of it.* For the Church has fought progress with a
vindictive bitterness and power found in no other antagonist--from the
time, long ago, when it crushed Galileo for daring to know more than its
"inspired" leaders could ever learn, down to yesterday, when it raised a
wild howl against Prof. Tyndall for making a simple statement, in itself
absolutely incontrovertible.

     * See Lecture 3, "Theological Fictions."

It had to yield to Galileo as the people grew beyond its power to blind
them to his truth. It is yielding every hour to-day to Tyndall from the
same dire necessity; while its nimble devotees vie with each other in
proclaiming that they thought that way all the time; had neglected
to say so (through an oversight); but that it was one of their very
strongest holds from the beginning. They have recently told us that
modern scientific doctrines (evolution included) are "plainly indicated
in the Bible," and that Science has at last worked up towards the
comprehension of scriptural truths.

It used to be the fashion to burn the man who got up a new theory or
discovered a new law of nature that interfered with the "revelation"
theory; but the style now is to go into the mental gymnastic business
and "reconcile" the old dogma with the new truth. The only kind of
reconciling the Church ever thought of in the days of her power, was to
become reconciled to the death of the scientist or thinker. To-day she
can take evolution and revelation, shake them up in a theological bag,
and then bring them forth so marvellously alike in appearance that their
own father would not know them apart. And the rest of us can't recognize
them at all.

To-morrow, when she has to yield her whole field to science, she will
hasten to assure us that it was only a few mistaken souls who ever
objected to Col. Ingersoll's style of theology; and that if we would
only interpret the Bible aright (and understood Hebrew) we should at
once discover that Col. Ingersoll was the "biggest card" they had had

You may not live until that to-morrow; I may not live until that
to-morrow; but it is as sure to come as it is certain that the old
tenets have yielded one by one before the irresistible march of an age
of intelligence and freedom, in which a priest or a Church can no longer
be judge, jury, and counsel.

Not long ago I heard two gentlemen--one a very devout Christian--talking
about what use the Church could make of Col. Ingersoll's teachings. One
said he was such a moral man, and always insisted so strongly upon right
action in this world, that it was a pity he did not have more faith. He
said, "What a power he would be in the Church! What a preacher he would
make! He would be a second St. Paul--I have been praying for years for
his conversion." "Well," said the other, "you needn't waste your time
any longer; softening of the brain doesn't run in Robert's family."


Let man rid himself of the pernicious idea that knowledge is a crime,
and then let only the man who is afraid to enter the world of thought go
back to his native paradise of ignorance and rest. Let him cling to his
old ideas. Humanity can do better without such a man, and humanity will
be better without him. The time is past when his type is needed, and let
us hope that it is nearly past when it can be found. He may have been
abreast of the time in 1840, but his grave was dug, his epitaph written,
in 1841. Science did not wait for him, and the world forgot his name!

Do you think the world has any farther use for the man who can gravely
tell those stories about Samson, for instance, as truth--as the word of
God? Do you think they do honor to the most attenuated intellect? Now
just stop and think of it. Just think of one thousand able-bodied men
(1,000 is a good many men) quietly standing around waiting for Sampson
to knock them on the head with a bone! And how does the durability of
that bone strike you?

If prowess with arms were estimated, I should say that was about the
most effective piece of generalship on record. If the gentleman who
conducted that neat little skirmish were living to-day there would not
be a question as to his eligibility for a third term, unit rule or no
unit rule. If we could provide our generals with a bone like that, we
might reduce the standing army sufficiently to reassure the most timid
congressman of the whole lot. It would not take more than four or five
generals and a captain to guard the whole frontier. Then we might keep
a private to keep the peace at the polls, and that would give us
sufficient force to readily murder several thousand people any morning
before breakfast, and I don't see how you could ask for anything better
than that. Two live men and one dead mule could raise a siege in a
quarter of an hour. Now, if there is anybody who wants to start "a
brilliant foreign policy," here is his chance. He could at the same time
make a record for economy, for it would be an enormous saving to this
country in arms and ammunition alone. For durability, cheapness, and
certainty not to miss fire there is simply no comparison at all.

It may be objected that our soldiers are not so strong as Samson; but
I am told by those who are intimately acquainted with mules, that they
have not deteriorated. They have simply transferred their superior
strength and durability from their jaw-bones to their heels--and they
engineer them themselves. So if our men can stand his voice and aim him
right, they won't have to wear long hair.

But seriously, if it is necessary to believe such stories as that in
order to go to heaven, don't you think the admission fee is a trifle
high? It is entirely beyond my means, and that is not one of the big
stories either.

The one that comes right after it is just as absurd. It is the second
scene of the same performance, and Samson only went out between acts for
a drink, and then he playfully walked off with a building about the size
of the capitol at Washington.

They say we must believe these tales or be damned; and that a woman has
not even a right to say, "I object." But it always did seem to me that
anybody who could believe them would not have brains enough to know
whether he was damned or not. They say we must not laugh at such very
solemn things as that. They also say that even if we don't believe them
ourselves we should show respect for those who do.

That is a very good theory, but I should like to know how any human
being with a sense of humor could sit and look solemn, and feel very
respectful, with that sort of chaff rattling down his back. It can't
be done unless he is scared. Fear will convince a man the quickest of
anything on earth. Even a shadow is provocative of solemnity if the
night is dark enough and the man is sufficiently scared.

Ignorance and Fear made the Garden of Eden, they created Jehovah, gave
Samson his wonderful strength, and Solomon his wisdom; they divided the
Red Sea, and raised Lazarus from the dead. It is not strange, therefore,
that they have compelled women to cling to the Church, and slaves to
cling to slavery. There were many black men in the South who voluntarily
went back and offered to remain in bondage. And that is one of the
strongest arguments against the institution of slavery--that it can so
far degrade its victims that they lose even the ambition to be free!*

     * "It was quite an ordinary fact in Greece and Rome for
     slaves to submit to death by torture rather than betray
     their masters. Yet we know how cruelly many Romans treated
     their slaves. But in truth these intense individual feelings
     nowhere rise to such a luxuriant height as under the most
     atrocious institutions. It is part of the irony of life,
     that the strongest feelings of devoted gratitude of which
     human nature seems susceptible, are called forth in human
     beings toward those who, having the power entirely to crush
     their earthly existence, voluntarily refrain from using that
     power. How great a place in most men this sentiment fills,
     even in religious devotion, it would be cruel to inquire. We
     daily see how much their gratitude to Heaven appears to be
     stimulated by the _contemplation of fellow-creatures to whom
     God has not been so merciful as he has to themselves_."

The time is not far distant when a bondage of the intellect to the
Church will receive no more respectful consideration than a bondage
of the body to a master. This nineteenth century cannot much longer
be bound by the ignorance and intolerance of an age when might was the
highest law and force the only appeal. We need to recognize that the
broadest possible liberty is the greatest possible good; and that the
liberty to think is the highest good of all. So don't let people make
you afraid to think, or to laugh at nonsense wherever you see it.

Solomon saying it cannot make a silly thing wise, nor Moses doing it a
cruel thing kind. David cannot make brutality gentle, nor Paul injustice
just; and that the Bible sustains a wrong can never make it right.

Don't you know that if the leading men of the Old Testament were living
to-day, they would be known as liars, thieves, and murderers--some
indeed as monsters to whom even these terms would be base flattery.
Despoilers of those who had not injured them; infamous liars in the name
of God; murderers of men; butchers of children; debauchers of women;
if they were living in the nineteenth century they would be unanimously
elected to the gallows--that is if they escaped Judge Lynch long enough.
And yet they are held up to us, who have outgrown their morals, as
authorities on the subject of God's will to man, as Prophets, Saints,

Do you want your children taught to believe in the purity and honor
of such men? Do you want your children taught to worship a God who
sanctioned, commanded, and gloried (and usually participated) in their
worst crimes? Do you want them to believe that at any time, in any age,
a God was the director in the most heinous crimes, in the vilest
plots, in the most cruel, vulgar, cowardly acts of vice that were ever
recorded? Either he was or else Moses' word is not worth a copper, and
theology is the invention of ignorance. He did these hideous things
or the Bible is mistaken about it. There is to-day that kind of a God
somewhere in space waiting around to pounce on anybody who doesn't
admire him, or else the Church is founded upon the ignorance and fear of
its dupes, and teaches them what is not true.

They say it is wicked to inquire into the facts. I say it is wrong not
to. It seems to me that in a matter like this the most important thing
is to be honest all round, and that if the claims of the Church are true
no inquiry can injure them. They say, "Oh, well, drop all the bad part,
and only take the good. There is a great deal of good in it too." But if
I don't know what is good myself I won't go to Moses and that class of
men to find out. I'll go to somebody who has got a clean record. I won't
go to men who robbed and murdered in the name of God; I won't go to men
who bought and sold their fellow-men; I won't go to men who gave their
own daughters over to the hate and lust of others, even bargaining for
them with sons and brothers. Such men cannot tell me what is good.
Such men cannot make a religion for me to live by, or a God that I can

I am sometimes told that intelligent ministers nowadays do not believe
in the inspiration of the Bible, and do not teach it. Yet every minister
who, like the Rev. R. Heber Newton, dares to suggest mildly that even
the apple story is a fable, is silenced by his bishop or hounded down
for "heresy." And still they go right on telling little children that it
is the "word of God" and the only guide of life. For truth, better give
them AEsop's Fables or the Arabian Nights; for purity the Decameron or
Don Juan; for examples of justice the story of Blue-Beard or the life of
Henry the Eighth.

I wish you would read the Bible carefully _just as you would any other
book_, and see what you think of its morals. I am debarred from touching
the parts of it that are the greatest insult to purity and the most
infamous travesties of justice. I can only say to you, read it, and if
you are lovers of purity you will find that it teaches respect for a God
who taught the most degrading impurity and defended those who forced it
upon others. If you believe in the sacredness of human life, he gave the
largest license to murder. It does not matter that Moses said he
told him _to tell somebody else_ "Thou shalt not kill;"* for the same
gentleman remarked upon several other occasions that God told him not
only to kill, but to steal, to lie, to commit arson, to break pretty
much all the other commandments--and to be a professional tramp besides.
(I am told that he followed this latter occupation for forty years,
which I should think would give him the belt.) So you see we have the
same gentleman's word for all of it; and at times, I must confess, it
does not seem to me absolutely reliable authority. There is one thing
certain, if the returns are correct, and that is that Moses did not take
his own medicine in the little matter of keeping the commandments. They
were for his enemies and his slaves.

     * See Lecture 3, "Theological Fictions."

If you love liberty remember that the Bible teaches slavery in every
form, not only the buying of slaves, but the stealing them into bondage.
How any man or woman who censured slavery in our Southern States
can permit their children to be taught that the Bible is a book of
authority, and think they are consistent, I cannot understand. Every
slave-whip had for its lash the Bible. Every slave-holder had its
teachings for his guide. Every slave-driver found his authority there.
When the sword of the North severed the thongs of the black man, it
destroyed the absolute control of the Bible in America; and gave a fatal
blow to Jehovah the God of oppression. Only in the South is it that the
Bible still holds its own. Freedom has outgrown it; and the young South
is reading it, for the first time, with an eraser!

If you respect your mother, if you wish your children to respect theirs,
you will find that the Bible teaches not only disrespect for her, but
abject slavery and the most oppressive degradation. If you love your
young sister, your beautiful pure daughter, remember that Jehovah taught
that, whenever men could do so, they were to abuse, ruin, degrade
them; and remember, further, that his "prophets"--_the men who made our
religion--did these things and gloried in the work_.

It is for this reason that I say it is right and peculiarly fitting that
women should object to his teaching. After you have read the 31st ch.
of Numbers, with its "thus saith the Lord," think then if you want to
follow such teachings. Decide then whether or not the words, the acts,
the commands, or the religion of such men is good enough for you. Think
then whether or not you want your daughters, your sons, to believe that
the Bible has one grain of authority, or is in any sense a "revelation
of the divine will."

Don't allow ministers to palm off platitudes on you for "revelation;"
and don't let them make you believe that anything that Moses or David or
Solomon said was the command of God to women. Neither one of those men
was fit to speak of a respectable woman. With the superior morals of our
time neither one of them would be considered fit to live outside of a

And don't let them tell you what "Saint" Paul said either. What did he
know about women anyway? He was a brilliant but erratic old bachelor
who fought on whichever side he happened to find himself on. He could
accommodate himself to circumstances and accept the situation almost
as gracefully as that other biblical gentleman who quietly went to
housekeeping inside of a whale, and held the fort for three days.


Did it ever occur to you that those absurd tales have as much claim to
be called the "word of God" as any of the rest of it? How can people
say they believe such nonsense? And how can they think it is evidence of
goodness to believe it? They say it takes a horribly wicked man to doubt
one of those yarns; and to come right out and say honestly, "I don't
believe it," will elect you, on the first ballot, to a permanent seat
in the lower house. Mr. Talmage says four out of five Christians "try to
explain away" these tales by giving them another meaning, and he urges
them not to do it. He says, stick to the original story in all its
literal bearings. The advice is certainly honest, but it would take
a brave man to follow it. And four out of five of even professed
Christians is a pretty heavy balance on the side of intellectual
integrity; and even Mr. Tal-mage's mammoth credulity fails to tip the

They simply can't believe these biblical stones, so they try to explain
the marvellous part entirely away. It has about come to this, in this
day of thought and intelligence, that when a thinking man claims to
believe these tales, and says it is an evidence of righteousness to
believe them, there are just two things to examine, his intellect and
his integrity. If one is all right the other is pretty sure to be out
of repair. Defective intellect or doubtful integrity is what he suffers
from. He has got one of them sure, and he may have both.

Now I should just like to ask you one honest question. Why should any
book bind us to sentiments that we would not tolerate if they came from
any other source? And why tolerate them coming from it? Do you know who
compiled the Bible? Do you know it was settled by vote which manuscripts
God did and which he did not write? The ballot is a very good thing to
have; but I decline to have it extend its power into eternity, and bind
my brain by the capacity of a ballot-box held by caste and saturated
with blood.

There can be but slow progress while we are weighted down by the
superstitions of ages past. The brain of the nineteenth century should
not be bound down to the capacity of the third, nor its moral sentiment
dwarfed to fit Jehovah.

But so long as the theories of revelation and vicarious atonement are
taught, we shall not need to be surprised that every murderer who is
hanged to-day says that he is going, with bloody hands, directly into
companionship with the deity of revelation. He has had ample time in
prison to re-read in the Bible (what he had previously been taught
in Sunday school), of many worse crimes than his which his spiritual
adviser assures him (to the edification and encouragement of all his
kind outside) were not only forgiven, but were actually ordered and
participated in, by the God he is going to.

That is what orthodoxy tells him! Just think of it! Do you think that is
a safe doctrine to teach to the criminal classes? Aside from its being
dishonest, is it safe? Does it not put a premium on crime? I maintain
that it is always a dangerous religion where faith in a given dogma, and
not continuous uprightness of life, is the standard of excellence. It is
a cruel religion where force is king and immorality God. It is an unjust
religion which seeks to make women serfs and men tyrants. It is an
unreasonable religion where credulity usurps the place of intellect and
judgment. It is an immoral religion where vice is deified and virtue
strangled. It is a cowardly religion where an innocent man, who was
murdered 1,800 years ago, is asked to bear the burden of your wrong acts
to-day. Aside from its impossibility that is cowardly.

Man should be taught that for every wrong he does, he must himself be
responsible--not that some one else stands between him and absolute
personal responsibility--not that Eve caused him to sin, nor that Christ
stands between him and full accountability for his every act.

And he should be taught that for every noble deed, for every act of
justice or mercy, he deserves the credit himself; that Christ does not
need it; that Christ cannot want it; and that Christ does not deserve

And you will not want to "wash your hands in the blood of Christ," nor
to shed that of any other innocent man, if your motives are pure and
your lives clean.



IN an art collection in Boston there is a god--a redeemer--the best
illustration I have ever seen of the vicarious atonement theory. It is
a perfect representation of the agony endured by a helpless and innocent
being in order to relieve the guilty of their guilt. This god was
captured in Central Africa before his mission was complete, and there is
still suffering-space upon his body unused.

It is a wooden image of some frightful beast, and it is represented as
suffering the most intense physical agony. Nails are driven into its
head, body, legs, and feet. Each wrongdoer who wanted to relieve himself
of his own guilt drove a nail, a tack, a brad, or a spike into the flesh
of his god. The god suffered the pain; the man escaped the punishment.
He cast his burdens on his god, and went on his way rejoicing. Here is
vicarious atonement in all its pristine glory. The god is writhing
and distorted with pain; the criminal has relieved himself of further
responsibility, and his faith has made him whole. His sins are forgiven,
and his god will assume his load.

It is curious to examine the various illustrations of human nature as
represented by the size and shape of the nails. A sensitive man had
committed a trifling offence, and he drove a great spike into the head
of the god. A thick-skinned criminal inserted a small tack where it
would do the least harm--in the hoof. An honest, or an egotistic
penitent drove his nail in where it stands out prominently; while the
secretive devotee placed his among a mass of others of long standing and
inconspicuous location.

One day I stood with a friend looking at this god. My friend, who was a
devout believer in the vicarious theory of justification and punishment
as explained _away_ by the ethical divines of Boston, was unable to see
anything but the most horrible brutality and willingness to inflict
pain on the part of these African devotees, and was equally unable to
recognize the same principle when applied to orthodoxy. She said, "Is it
not horrible, the ignorance and superstition of these poor people? What
a vast field of labor our missionaries have."

To her the idea of justification by faith in a suffering god meant only
superstition and brutality when plainly illustrated in somebody else's
religion; but the same idea, the same morality, the same justice, she
thought beautiful when applied to Christianity.

I said, "There is the whole vicarious theory in wood and iron. That
is exactly the same as the Christian idea; and the same human
characteristics are plainly traceable in the size and location of these

"A Presbyterian or a Methodist drives his nail in the most conspicuous
spot, where the flesh is tender and the suffering plainly visible. The
Episcopalian or Catholic uses a small tack, and drives it as much out of
sight as possible, covering it over with stained glass, and distracting
the attention with music; but the bald, cruel, unjust, immoral,
degrading, and dishonest principle is there just the same.

"Faith in blind acts of devotion; the suffering of innocence for guilt;
transferring of crime; comfort and safety purchased for self by the
infliction of pain and unmerited torture upon another; premiums offered
for ignorance and credulity; punishments guaranteed for honest doubt and
earnest protest--all these beautiful provisions of the vicarious theory
are as essential to our missionary's belief as to that of his African
converts; and it seems to me simply a choice between thumbs up and
thumbs down."

While we were talking my friend's pastor joined us, and she told him
what I had said, and asked him what was the difference between the
Christian and the heathen idea of a suffering god. He said he could
explain it in five minutes some morning when he had time. He said
that the one was the true and living faith, and the other was blind
superstition. He also said that he could easily make us see which was
which. Then he gracefully withdrew with the air of one who says: "In six
days God made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day _he_
and _I_ rested." He has not called since to explain. While he stayed,
however, his manner was deeply, solemnly, awfully impressive; and of
course I resigned on the spot.

The theory of vicarious atonement is the child of cowardice and fear.
It arranges for a man to be a criminal and to escape the consequences
of his crime. It destroys personal responsibility, the most essential
element of moral character. It is contrary to every moral principle.

The Church never has been and never will be able to explain why a god
should be forced to resort to such injustice to rectify a mistake of his
own. To earnest questions and honest thoughts it has always replied with
threats. It has always silenced inquiry and persecuted thought. Past
authority is its god, present investigation its devil. With it brains
are below par, and ignorance is at a premium. It has never learned that
the most valuable capital in this world is the brain of a scholar.


Every earnest thought, like every earnest thinker, adds something to
the wealth of the world. Blind belief in the thought of another produces
only hopeless mediocrity. Individual effort, not mere acceptance, marks
the growth of the mind. The most fatal blow to progress is slavery of
the intellect. The most sacred right of humanity is the right to think,
and next to the right to think is the right to express that thought
without fear.

Fear is the nearest approach to the ball and chain that this age will
permit, and it should be the glorious aim of the thinkers of to-day that
so refined and cruel a form of tyranny shall not be left for those who
come after us. We owe physical freedom to the intellectual giants of the
past; let us leave mental freedom to the intellectual children of the

Fear scatters the blossoms of genius to the winds, and superstition
buries truth beneath the incrustation of inherited mediocrity. Fear
puts the fetters of religious stagnation on every child of the brain. It
covers the form of purity and truth with the contagion of contumely and
distrust. It warps and dwarfs every character that it touches. It is the
father, mother, and nurse of hypocrisy. It is the one great disgrace
of our day, the one incalculable curse of our time; and its nurse and
hot-bed is the Church.

Because I, a woman, have dared to speak publicly against the
dictatorship of the Church, the Church, with its usual force and honor,
answers argument with personal abuse. One reply it gives. It is this. If
a woman did not find comfort and happiness in the Church, she would not
cling to it. If it were not good for her, she in her purity and truth
would not uphold it in the face of the undeniable fact that the present
generation of thinking men have left it utterly.

You will find, however, that in every land, under every form of faith,
in each phase of credulity, it is the woman who clings closest and
longest to the religion she has been taught; yet no Christian will
maintain that this fact establishes the truth of any other belief.*

     * "Exactly the same thing may be said of the women in the
     harem of an Oriental They do not complain.... They think
     our women insufferably unfeminine."

They will not argue from this that women know more of and have a
clearer insight into the divine will! If she knows more about it, if she
understands it all better than men, why does she not occupy the pulpit?
Why does she not hold the official positions in the Churches? Why has
she not received even recognition in our system of religion? Who ever
heard of a minister being surprised that God did not reveal any of the
forms of belief through a woman? If she knows and does the will of God
so much better than man, why did he not reveal himself to her and place
his earthly kingdom in her hands?

That argument won't do! As long as creed and Church held absolute
power there was no question but that woman was a curse, that she was an
inferior being, an after-thought. No Church but the Roman Catholic has
the decency to recognize even the so-called mother of God! The Church
has never offered women equality or justice. Its test of excellence
is force. The closer a Church or creed clings to its spirit, the more
surely does it assume to dictate to and control woman and to degrade
her. The more liberal the creed the nearer does it come to offering
individual justice and liberty.

The testimony of our own missionaries, as well as that of many others,
assures us that it is not the Turk but his wives who hold fastest
to their faith. The women of the harem, whom we pity because of the
injustice of their religious training, are the last to relinquish
their god, the most bitter opponents of the infidel or sceptic in their
Church, the most devout and constant believers of the faith, and the
most content with its requirements. They are the ones who cling to the
form even when the substance has departed--and it is so with us!

Among the "heathen" it is the women who are most shocked and offended
by the attacks made upon their superstitions by the missionaries whom we
pay to go to them and blaspheme their gods and destroy their idols.

Go where you will, read history as you may, and you will find that it
is the men who invented religion, and the women who believed in it.
They are the last to give it up. _The physically weak dread change_.
Inexperience fears the unknown. Ignorance shuns thought or development.
The dependent cannot be brave.

We are all prepared to admit, I think, that, with but few marked
exceptions here and there, the women of most countries are physically
and mentally undeveloped. They have had fear and dependence, the dread
enemies of progress and growth, constantly to retard them. Fear of
physical harm, fear of social ostracism, fear of eternal damnation. With
rare exceptions a child with a weak body, or any other dependent, will
do as he is told; and women have believed to order. They have done so
not only in Christianity but in Buddhism, Mohammedanism, Mormonism,
and Fetichism--in each and all of them. Each and all of these religions
being matter of faith, religion was the one subject in which every
Church alike claimed ignorance as a virtue; and the women understood
that the men understood it as little as they did. It was a field
where credulity and a solemn countenance placed all on an intellectual
level--and the altitude of the level was immaterial.

Women have never been expected to understand anything; hence jargon
about the "testimony of the spirit," the "three in one" absurdity, the
"horns of the altar," or the widow's oil miracle was not more empty or
unmeaning to her than a conversation about Bonds and Stocks, Political
Economy, or Medical Science. She swallowed her religion just as she did
her pills, because the doctor told her to, and said there was something
wrong with her head--and usually there was.


The past education of woman gave her an outlook which simply embraced a
husband or nothing at all, which was often only a choice between two of
a kind.

There are a great many women to-day who think that orthodoxy is as great
nonsense as I do, but who are afraid to say so.

They whisper it to each other. They are afraid of the slander of the

I want to help make it so that they will dare to speak. I want to do
what I can to make it so that a mother won't have to evade the questions
of her children about the Bible.


I am sometimes asked, "What do you propose to give in place of this
comforting faith? It makes people so happy. You take away all this
blessing and you give no other in its place. What is your creed?"

It has never seemed to me that a creed was the staff of life. Man cannot
live by creeds alone. I should not object, however, to one that should
read something like this:

I believe in honesty.

I believe that a Church has no right to teach what it does not know.

I believe that a clean life and a tender heart are worth more to this
world than all the faith and all the gods of Time.

I believe that this world needs all our best efforts and earnest
endeavors twenty-four hours every day.

I believe that if our labors were needed in another world we should be
in another world; so long as we are in this one I believe in making the
best and the most of the materials we have on hand.

I believe that fear of a god cripples men's intellects more than any
other influence. I believe that Humanity needs and should have all our
time, efforts, love, worship, and tenderness.

I believe that one world is all we can deal with at a time.

I believe that, if there is a future life, the best possible preparation
for it is to do the very best we can here and now.

I believe that love for our fellow-men is infinitely nobler, better, and
more necessary than love for God.

I believe that men, women, and children need our best thoughts, our
tenderest consideration, and our earnest sympathy.

I believe that God can get on just as well without any of these as with
them. If he wants anything he can get it without our assistance. It
is people with limitations, not gods without limitations, who need and
should have our aid.

I believe that it is better to build one happy home here than to invest
in a thousand churches which deal with a hereafter.

If a life that embraces this line of action does not fit a man for
heaven, and if faith in vicarious atonement will, then such a heaven is
not worth going to, and its god would be unworthy to make a good man's

But suppose that faith in a myth is destroyed and another mysticism be
not set up in its place, what then? If a mother takes her child away
from the fire, which it finds beautiful, and believes to be a nice toy,
is it necessary for her to give it a kerosene lamp in its place?
She destroys a pleasant delusion--a faith and a delightful hope and
confidence--because she knows its danger and recognizes its false
foundation. It is surely not necessary that she should give to the child
another delusion equally dangerous and false. She gives it something
she knows to be safe; something she understands will not burn; something
which, though not so bright and attractive to the child at first, gives
pleasure without pain, occupation without disaster. Is she cruel or
only sensible? If I were to pretend to a knowledge of a divine creed, a
superhuman system, I should be guilty of the same dishonesty, the same
deception of which I complain in the Church.

I do not know of any divine commands. I do know of most important human
ones. I do not know the needs of a god or of another world. I do not
know anything about "a land that is fairer than day." I do know that
women make shirts for seventy cents a dozen in this one. I do know that
the needs of humanity and this world are infinite, unending, constant,
and immediate. They will take all our time, our strength, our love, and
our thoughts; and our work here will be only then begun.

Why not, if you believe in a God at all, give him credit for placing you
where he wanted you? Why not give him credit for giving you brains and
sympathies, as well as the courage to use them. Even if Eve did eat that
apple, why should _we_ insist upon having the colic?


I want to see the time come when mothers won't have to explain to their
children that God has changed his mind about goodness and right since he
used to incite murder; that eighteen hundred years ago he was a criminal
with bloody hands and vile, polluted breath; that less than three
hundred years ago his greatest pleasure was derived from witnessing the
agony of pure young girls burning alive, whose only crime was beauty of
face or honesty of thought.*

     * See Gage, "History of Woman Suffrage," p. 766.

I want it so that she won't allow her children to hear and believe such
a statement as Bishop Fallows made not long ago. He said, in effect,
that sins of omission are as heinous as those of commission: that Saul
committed two sins in his life, and that one of them was a refusal to
commit a coldblooded murder! He spared the life of a conquered enemy!
Out of a whole nation he saved one life--and that was a crime, a
sin! Bishop Fallows said that God expressly commanded Saul to utterly
exterminate that whole nation, and not only the nation but its flocks;
and that God took Saul's kingdom from him because he saved the life of
one fallen enemy.

That story, I think, is a libel; and I believe that if there is a God he
was never such a fiend! And I want it so that no mother will allow her
child to hear such an infamous travesty of the character of a Deity who
is called good, I want it so that all the lessons of the week, all
the careful training of a wise father or a good mother, will not be
antagonized on Sunday by such a statement as the Rev. Mr. Williamson
made at a large church convention recently. Speaking of prayer, he said:
"We should offer to God, by prayer, our virtue, our purity, and our
pious aspirations" (so far I do not object, for if it means anything I
fail to grasp it), "for by not doing so we claim self-control, which is
displeasing to God!"

I object! The lesson of self-control is precisely what we need. And when
we control ourselves and regulate our lives on principles of right and
truth, instead of allowing a Church to regulate them through a fear of
hell, we shall be a better people, and character will have a chance to

Then this same gentleman added: "We should also give him our vices, our
worry, our temper, and our passions, so that he may dispose of them."

Dispose of them yourselves! Don't try to shift your responsibilities
on to somebody else. Don't drive your tack into the brain of justice,
expecting to save your own soft skull. Don't enervate your strength
to do light by accepting the fatal doctrine of vicarious atonement. It
weakens every character that it touches.


The doctrine of vicarious atonement is found in some form in most
religions, and it is the body and soul of ours. The idea is not a
Christian invention. It caused the Carthaginians to put to death their
handsomest prisoners if a battle were won, the most promising children
of their own nobility if it were lost. They were offerings to appease
the gods.

In old times there were peoples who believed that if a chief was guilty
of a misdemeanor it was just to punish or enslave any one of his tribe.
That was their idea of liberty and justice. If a father committed
a crime it could be expiated by the murder of his son. That was the
doctrine of vicarious atonement in all its pristine glory. So they
adopted that style of justice in our religion, and condemned the
whole lot of us to the eternal wrath of God on account of that little
indiscretion attributed to Eve. It seems a very little thing for anybody
to get so angry at us all about and stay angry so long! It doesn't seem
to me that if one of you were to eat every apple I had in my orchard, I
should want to murder and eternally damn all the folks that live in Asia
Minor. Do you think you would?

In the 11th verse of the 12th chapter of the second book of Samuel it is
claimed that God said he was going to be revenged for the crimes of some
men by a vile punishment of their wives.

Only a short time ago a man tried that same style of justice in one of
our Western towns. He claimed that Smith had alienated the affections of
his wife, so he went over to Smith's house and _whipped Mrs. Smith!_ And
do you know that the judge who tried that case (not being a good Bible
student) actually sent that good, pious man to the house of correction
--that man who not only believed in his Bible, but lived by it! And just
as likely as not that judge will be elected again. Truly we have fallen
on degenerate times!

Legal minds outgrew the idea of vicarious punishment long ago. Physical
liberty came to have a new meaning, and punishment was awarded more
nearly where it was due. But the religious mind never outgrows anything.
It is born as big as it ever gets. Development is its terror. It abhors
a change. It forces you to sin by proxy, to be redeemed by proxy; and
the only thing it does permit you to receive at first hand is Hell. That
is the only one thing you can't delegate to somebody else.

If you commit no sin, you are responsible for the sins of other people
--dead people, too, that you can't look after. If you are good and true
and noble--even if you are a Christian--you don't get any credit for it.
If there is any one thing above another that God detests it is to have
a man try to be grand and noble and true, and then get the credit of
it. "To Christ belongs all the honor, the praise, and the glory--world
without end, Amen."

But when it comes to the punishment, the vicarious notion doesn't seem
to work. There is the one point where you are welcome to your own, and
no discount allowed to heavy takers. Hell is always at par and no bail
permitted. Even ignorance of the requirements is no excuse. If you did
not know any better, somebody else did, and you've got to pay for it.

Now if the vicarious principle is not big enough to go clear round, I'll
leave my share off at the other end. If the Church wants to take my hell
(vicariously) it is welcome to it. I will let it go cheap.

Awhile ago a man stayed some time at a hotel in New York, and when
the time came for him to pay his bill he hadn't the money. Well, the
proprietor felt sorry for him and said, "I tell you what I'll do about
that bill, I'll throw off half." His guest was overwhelmed by this
liberality, and with tears of gratitude said, "I cannot permit you to
outdo me in generosity; I'll throw off the other half and we'll call it

So if the Church desires all the credit, it is also welcome to all the
blame. I cannot permit it to outdo me in generosity. But I'd rather be
responsible for just my own sins, and then I can regulate them better,
and I can take care of my own reward when I get it. I shall not want
to deposit it with the clergy. A profit and loss system that is chiefly
loss will not pay me.

The doctrines of vicarious atonement and original or inherited sin are
the most infamously unjust dogmas that ever clouded the brain of man.


They are twin monsters inherited from intellectual pigmies.

Let me read you a little prayer based upon this idea of right. I heard
it offered as a thanksgiving tribute. "Oh, God, we do thank thee that
thou didst give thy only son to die for us! _We thank thee that the
innocent has suffered for the guilty_, and that through the suffering
and death of thy most holy son our sins are blotted out!"

Monstrous! How would that work in a court of justice? What would you
think of a person who coolly thanked a judge who had knowingly allowed
the wrong man to be hung? What do you think of a code of morals that
offers as one of its beautiful provisions the murder of the innocent
instead of the punishment of the guilty?

People ask what good I expect to come of an attack on Christianity. They
ask me if I think Christianity does any direct harm. Yes! _It makes
a man unjust to believe in unjust doctrines_. Any man who honestly
believes in the righteousness of a system of vicarious rewards and
punishments is ripe for any form of tyranny. And the more honestly he
believes in it the less will he be a good man from principle.

I want men and women to be good and true because it is right towards
each other, and not because they are afraid of Hell. Honor towards
people in this world, not fear of a fiend in the next--that is my
doctrine. That is the way to make men and women strong and brave and
noble. Stop telling them they can't be good themselves; teach them that
they must do right themselves. Make them self-dependent. Teach them to
stand alone. Honor towards others, kindness, and love--these are what
make a man a good husband, a noble father--king in his household.

Fear never made any man a gentleman. Fear never made any woman a true
wife or a good mother. Fear never covered the pitfalls of vice with
anything stronger than the gloss of hypocrisy.

When Reason's torch burned low, Faith led her victims by chains of
ignorance into the land of hopeless superstition, and built her temple


A religion of faith is simply a question in geography. Keep your
locality in mind and you are all right. On the banks of the Red Sea
murder and slavery were a religious duty. On the Ganges infanticide is a
virtue. In Rome you may steal or lie; you may deceive an innocent young
girl and blast her life forever; you may stab your friend in the dark,
and you are all right: but if you eat a piece of fried pork on Friday
you are a lost man! China arranges her prayers in a machine, and turns
her obligations to Deity off with a crank. There is usually more or less
intimate relationship between prayer and a crank. Our God loved human
sacrifice in Galilee, and rewarded Abraham for it. He abhors it
in Pocasset, America, and his followers threaten to hang the only
consistent follower of Jehovah who has come amongst them.

If you live in Utah, or had lived in Jerusalem, your most certain
hope of salvation would have been the possession of numerous wives. In
England or New York more than one is sure damnation.

Lose your bearings and you are a lost man! Make a mistake in your
county and your soul is not worth a copper. A traveler is not safe five
minutes, and I doubt if an accident policy would cover his case.

God and the Devil have been held accountable for about every crime that
ever has been committed, and it has been very largely a geographical
question which of the two was responsible. If it was longitude 35° 14'
east it was the Lord! If you shifted to longitude 70° 58' west it was
the devil.

When locality becomes the all-important question, we do not wonder at
the old lady who felt relieved when the new survey threw her house just
across the state line into Ohio, after she had been under the impression
that she lived in Indiana. "Well," said she, "I am glad we don't live
in Indiana; I always did say it was a very unhealthy state. Now, our
doctor's bills won't be so high."

Pocasset, Mass., is in the devil's country, and murder is not safe;
it is a crime. Abraham and Saul lived in a healthier climate--in God's
congressional district, where murder was above par and decency was out
of fashion. Take it all in all, and the devil seems to make the best

Now it seems to me that Sunday-schools should teach nothing so much as
geography, so that a man may not be in doubt as to who is his Secretary
of State, and when an order comes from head-quarters he may fairly be
expected to know whether it is safe to obey--whether obedience means
glorification on earth and a home in heaven, or a sprained neck and a
bright fire. It seems now that Pocasset is over the line and out of the
Lord's clearing.


Now this God either did or he did not believe in and command murder and
rapine in the days when he used to sit around evenings and chat with
Abraham and Moses and the rest of them. His especial plans and desires
were "revealed" or they were not. The ideas of justice and right were
higher in those days than they are now, or else we are wiser and better
than God, or else the Bible is not his revealed will. You can take your
choice. My choice is to keep my respect for divine justice and honor,
and let the Bible bear the burden of its own mistakes.

If religion is a revelation, then it is not a growth, and it would have
been most perfect in design and plan when it was nearest its birth.
Now accepting the Bible theory of Jehovah, we find that when the
communications of God were immediate and personal there could have been
no mistake as to his will. To deal with it as a growth or evolution
toward better things is to abandon the whole tenet of a revealed law
of God. But to deal with it as a revelation is to make God a being too
repulsive and brutal to contemplate for one moment with respect.

He either did or did not tell those men those things. Which will you

He divided men into two classes. Of one he made tyrants and butchers;
of the other, victims. He made woman weak in order that she might be the
more easily overcome by vice; helpless, in order that she might the more
easily be made the victim of brutal lust! He made children to be the
beasts of burden, the human sacrifices, the defenceless property of
criminals and fiends. He did these things, or the prophets romanced
about it, or some one else romanced about them. Which?

If I accept the former alternative. I can have nothing but loathing and
contempt for the Diety and his followers. If the latter, it clouds the
character of no one. It simply places the ignorance of the past on the
same plane with the ignorance of the present. It rescues the reputation
of the Infinite at the trifling expense of a few musty fables.

I choose the latter! I prefer to believe either that a few men were
themselves deceived, or that they tried to deceive others--it does
not much matter which. I prefer to adopt this belief, and so keep the
character of even a supposititious God above reproach.

If we accept a God at all let us accept an honest one.


We are asked to be as fair toward the evidence of Bible witnesses as we
are toward other evidence. We are told that we believe a great deal that
we have never seen, and that we accept it on the word of others; that we
have never seen a man hung, but that we believe that men have been hung;
we never saw Napoleon's great feats of generalship, but we believe in
them because history records them. Why not believe in the Bible as well
as in other history? Why not, on the testimony of witnesses, believe
that Christ turned water into wine, as readily as that a man was hung?
Why not accept the miracle of the loaves and fishes on evidence, as
readily as the victories of Napoleon?

Now that line of argument, although it is the one used by and for
theological students, is entirely illogical. It will not work with
people who think. The cases are not parallel.

We believe the facts of history and the occurrences of to-day not
solely on the testimony of others, but because they are in accord with
common-sense and experience and judgment; because they fall within the
range of possibility, and do not antagonize the laws of nature. We know
a man can be hung. We know one general may defeat another. We are asked
to believe nothing outside of reasonable bounds. Here then the only
thing to examine is the credibility of the witnesses.

If, however, our witnesses told us that whenever Napoleon wanted to know
the strength of an enemy he flew up over their camp and counted their
men; or that when he found too many he prayed down fire from heaven and
burned them up, we should dismiss their testimony at once as unworthy
of farther notice. We should know that they were deceived, or that they
were trying to deceive us. We should know that Napoleon's real means
of estimating the strength of his enemy were of a different nature,
and that he did not resort to the upper air and flit about at will. We
should know that no fire was prayed down, and that although soldiers
might be told to put their trust in God, the little addition--"and keep
your powder dry"--would be the really important part of the command.

So when we are told that wine was made out of water, and bread and fish
out of nothing in large quantities, we know that we are listening to
statements that simply go out of the field of credible testimony into
the realm of supreme credulity. Such assertions require you to believe
not only what you have not seen, but what all experience and reason tell
you you never can see. They ask you not only to believe in a past
event, but in a past event outside of all reason, beyond all experience,
incapable of demonstration, unsupported by nature, opposed to all
natural laws--beneath the realm of reason, out of the light of
experience, under the shadow of superstition!

The great electric light of the intellect is turned off at the church
door. On one day out of every seven the human lamps enter in utter
darkness a field of superstition. During six days the light is turned
full on the world of commerce, science, art, and literature, and these
glow and grow and are examined by its rays. When, however, the signal
tolls from the steeple on the seventh day, the light is turned off for
that day, and for that topic alone; and then there is brought out once
more the old tallow candle of ignorance that hides in shadow the cobwebs
of undeveloped thought!

Use your noblest powers of thought freely in the bank; strain and
develop your ability to improve and control in the engine-room; train
and exert your judgment in literature and art; push and brighten and
sharpen your reason in science or political economy.

In the practical affairs of life faith will not help you. It is childish
and insecure. It will not honor your cheque; it will not prevent the
broken engine from hurling its human companion into eternity. It will
not prove the rotundity of the earth, nor establish a sound financial
basis for a nation. In all such matters it leads to nothing but
ignorance and disaster. In theology it is the one element of light.

As a test and an aid in this world, it is puerile and trifling; but the
depths of the Great Beyond it fathoms to a nicety. It gives no grasp
upon the truths of Time; but it is the all-sufficient hold on Eternity.
It leads to the discovery of no important principle here; but it holds
the keys to the secret chambers of divinity! It is an attribute of
childish development now. It is to indicate infinite mental superiority

It is a strange philosophy which asserts that a faculty which is a
hindrance to superiority in this world is the one thing needful for the
soul of man!

Give me the brain that dares to think! Give me the mind that grasps
with herculean power the rocks that crush the treasures of intellectual
growth, and tears them from their foundation! Give me the mind that
dares to step from the fallen stones, that leaps from rock to rock past
the dark rift torn in the superstitions of ages past, and that, standing
on the farthest crag, waits and watches for the breaking light! He can
trust his future whose present scorns stagnation!


In olden times--in the times of the Bible--men believed that animals
sometimes used human language, and that beasts were wiser than their
masters. I'm not now going to question that belief, but still I don't
think that nowadays one-half of us would take the word of a horse on any
important subject. You must remember, however, that it took an ass to
know an angel at first sight in Balaam's time. Balaam never suspected
that there was an angel in his path until that ass told him! In those
days, on a little matter like that, the word of any beast seemed to be
taken as good evidence.

But let a mule jam his rider's foot against a wall, nowadays, and then
lie down under him, and there is not one man in ten who would associate
that fact in his mind with the presence of an angel. I suppose, however,
there wasn't as much known about mules then as there is now; and most
asses were of a more pious turn of mind.

I don't suppose there is one intelligent man in this city who believes
that story, and yet he is not a good Christian if he questions it.

Show me a locality where actual belief--where old time orthodoxy--is
looked upon as a requisite of good citizenship and standing in society,
and you will show me a place where intellectual development and rapid
progress have died or gone to sleep!

The most ignorant and backward parts of this great country, the
localities where Congress is asking for better and more secular schools
to be established as a means of safety to the state, are situated in the
very States where orthodoxy holds absolute sway. In those states a
man is looked upon as a very dangerous character if he questions the
accuracy of that story about those three hot-house plants, Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego. Yes, the people of that pious region would be
afraid of a man who was wicked enough to laugh at that yarn; and yet do
you believe there is a man in this city who could make you believe it?
And you don't look dangerous either; and I don't think that I do.

It seems that when they used to run ashore for big scare-stories, they
just poked up the fire and went into the blastfurnace business--here and
hereafter. But--seeing that a furnace--a real one--heated seven times
hotter than it takes to melt iron, did not injure those three tropical
innocents--did not even singe their eye-brows--it does look a little as
if we should stand a pretty fair show with the spiritual fuel they now
promise us hereafter. Still I must say I don't believe I should like the

Speaking of Bible arguments, I must tell you of a new one I heard
recently. A gentleman acquaintance of mine asked a colored woman, who
had applied to him for money to help build a colored people's church,
whether she thought God was black or white. She replied that the Bible
implied that he was black--that it said, "And His wool shall be whiter
than snow;" and that _white men don't have wool!_


Show me a grade of society that buckles its little belt of belief and
faith around its members, and you will show me a collection of hopeless
mediocres. The thinkers move out or die out. They object to being
fossilized. They decline to go down to history as physical members of
the nineteenth century, and mental members of the third.

I would rather have the right to put on my monument, "She was abreast of
her time," than have all the sounding texts and all the feathered tribes
chiseled upon it. I would prefer that it be said of me, "She was a good
woman because she had a pure heart," than to have this record: "She was
a Christian. She was afraid of hell. She cast her burdens on the Lord,
and went to heaven."

You have been told, "Blessed are they who die in the Lord." Rather let
us say, "Blessed are they who live clean lives."

But the Church does not allow you to regulate your lives by what you
believe to be right. It always did and it always will hate a thinker. It
proposes to do the mental labor for great minds by means of brains large
enough to hold nothing but Faith. It says, "I cannot, and you shall not
outgrow the past. The measure of my capacity shall be the limit of your

The laws of a nation presume to regulate only what you may do. The
Church is kind enough to say what you may think. It proposes to control
the mental condition of every man and woman for time and eternity, and
its first command is that we shall not grow.

It seems to me rather a queer admission to make, but the Church says
that a child or a fool knows quite enough for its purpose--and it does
not seem to be my place to question that fact. Now that may be all very
well for the child and the fool, but it is rather binding on the rest of

Once in a while a minister outgrows the doctrines that were big enough
for him in his youth; but that minister, though his life be as pure and
his character as sweet as a flower, would be safer to be cast into
the sea than that this instrument of torture, this court of injustice,
should discover that he had laid aside the outfit of his undeveloped
years. His mind may have grown to be a giant in strength, but it must be
compressed into the nut-shell of superstition--dwarfed to the capacity
of intellectual pigmies.

Christ was a thinker, a man of progress, an infidel, a man who outgrew
the Church of his time; and the Church of his time crucified him. Those
who oppose the spirit of religious stagnation to-day meet the same
spirit in the Church that Christ met, and receive the same treatment so
far as the law will permit.

It is a sentiment as true as it is beautiful that asks us to reverence
the great men, the thinkers of the past; but it is no mark of respect
to them to rest forever over their graves. We show our respect and our
appreciation better by a spirit of research that reaches beyond them,
than by a simple admiration which takes their gifts and dies. The
lessons they left were not alone lessons of memory and acceptance, but
examples of effort and progress.

A pupil who stops content with his teacher's last words is no great
credit either to himself or to his master. If he has learned only
to accept, his lesson is only begun; and until he knows that he must
investigate, his education is that of a child, his development that of a

It is no compliment to Christ, the man of progress 1800 years ago, that
his followers clip the wings of thought. He struck for freedom from
ecclesiastical bondage. He added a new link to the chain of intellectual
growth, and his followers have riveted it back to the immovable rock of
superstition. He offered a key to open the door of individual liberty.
They have wrapped it in the folds of ignorance and laid it in the closet
of fear. He said in effect, "When you have outgrown the Church, leave it
and bless the world." They say, "Leave it and be damned." For what is a
Christian to-day without his hell? The chief objection I hear offered to
the last arrangements made for us by the revisers is that they left out
some of the hell, and gave the part they kept a poetical name.


When the day comes when offences against the intellect are deemed as
great crimes as offences against the person, intellectual gag-law
will meet with no more respect than lynch-law does to-day, and will
be recognized as the expression of an undeveloped moral and social
condition. Choking an opinion into or out of a man's mind is no more
respectable than the same argument applied to his body.

Any form of faith, any religion, that has the vicarious element in it,
is an insult to the intellect. It is based upon the idea of a God of
revenge, a ruler infamously unjust. It is a system utterly ineffectual
without the wanton sacrifice of helpless innocence under fangs of
beastly cruelty--a revenge that has no thought of the redress of wrong
by its punishment--a revenge that simply requires a victim--and blood!

Even with those two elements of the plan it is still impotent until
it has appealed to the basest element in every human breast--the
willingness to accept happiness that is bought by the agony of another!
It is too abjectly selfish and groveling to command the least respect
from a noble character or a great, tender soul. It severs the ties of
affection without compunction. It destroys all loyalty. It says, "No
matter what becomes of my loved ones--those who would die to help me--I
must save my soul." Without the use of the microscope, however, such a
soul would never know whether it was saved or not.

What sort of a soul would it be that could have a heaven apart from
those it loved? It would not be big enough to save, and its heaven would
not be good enough to have.

I prefer the philosophy, the dignified loyalty and love for the dead of
the old Goth, the captive warrior whom the Christians persuaded to be
baptized. As he stood by the font he asked the bishop, "Where are
the souls of my heathen ancestors?" The bishop, with great alacrity,
replied, "In hell."

The brave old warrior, the loyal Goth, drew his skins about him and
said, "I would prefer, if you do not object, to go to my people;" and he
left unbaptized.

That was heathen philosophy; but I think I prefer it to the Christianity
of a devout man, a Sunday-school superintendent, whom I know. He is
a great light in a Christian church today. He worships the beautiful
provisions of vicarious atonement. He refused his mother her dying wish,
and on the following Sunday atoned for the inhuman act by singing with
unusual unction, "How gentle God's commands," and reading with devout
fervor, "The Lord is my shepherd, _I_ shall not want." His mother, who
had the same shepherd, had wanted for much. She even wanted for a stone
to mark her grave, because the money she had left for that purpose
her holy son thought best to use, vicariously, upon himself. That man
believes in the Bible absolutely. He is a good Christian, and he abhors
an infidel! He knows he is going to heaven because he has faith in
Christ, and Christ had an extra stab on his account. He is willing to
take his heavenly home through the blood of Christ, and his earthly one
out of the pockets of a dead mother. The blood of the murdered Nazarene
obliterates the infamy of his acts over her dishonored grave.

And this is perfectly consistent! A religion of faith, a religion that
gets its good vicariously and shifts its sins and responsibilities on
to the past, is a religion that can never elevate character; _it simply
makes a man more intensely what he was before_. It is all self,
self, self. Think of the infinitesimal smallness, the irredeemable
worthlessness, the unutterable meanness of a soul that could forsake
those it had loved, and be happy believing that they were suffering and
eternally lost!

Yet who does not know men who go tramping about the country, living
on the charity of their dupes, and declaring that "the Lord is their
Shepherd, _they_ shall not want," whose families want for almost every
comfort of life? And this is true orthodox doctrine. "Ye shall forsake
father, mother, wife, and children," for what?--to "follow me!" Think of
the infamy of it!

If that is the kind of souls that go to heaven, I shall do all I can to
keep mine amongst more respectable spirits. I will go with the Goth. I
could suffer in hell (if there were such a place) with those I love, and
keep my self-respect.

If I believed I could be happy in heaven with my loved ones in agony
below--if I believed it of myself--there is no vile, slime-covered
reptile on earth that I would so loathe! Forsake father, mother,
husband, children to save my soul! Never! I will go with my people!


This idea of vicarious atonement has encouraged injustice and crime
of every kind. Out of eighty-four men who have been hanged recently,
seventy-one have gone directly to heaven. They asked the assembled
spectators to be as good as they conveniently could, and meet them
on the other shore. Their spiritual advisers administered the holy
sacrament, and assured them that they were "lambs of the fold," and that
a robe and a harp awaited them at the right hand of God.

Just imagine a lamb in a robe, playing on a harp! A lamb with wings, a
harp, a long white robe, and golden slippers seems to me an object to
arouse the sympathy of a demon. Poor lamb! He would wish himself a goat
every hour of the day.

There is an implied crime in the very word vicarious. If it means
anything it means the suffering of innocence to atone for guilt.
It means that one crime is condoned by the commission of another--a
deliberate one. It means that truth must die in order that dishonor may
live. It substitutes vengeance for justice. It does not seek to protect
society by checking villany; it seeks the safety of the criminal by a
shifting of responsibility. If the framers of human laws were no wiser
that the revealers of divine law, no nation could live, no family would
be secure, no justice possible.

     [See Appendix S.]

Not long ago the New York _Independent_ contained an article against
Sarah Bernhart, calling her "a lewd woman," and against her play because
it did not contain good morals. The same paper contained an article
against George Eliot's works, and said that the Mormon Congressman is a
disgrace to all America because he is a polygamist. All these things
by a man who swallows David and Lot whole, and has Solomon pose as the
summit of all wisdom! All this by a man who builds his life on the word
of Moses, and denies to others the right to object to his code of morals
or his version of heavenly wisdom and divine direction!

I should like a little consistency. The Christian who rails against
polygamy, and at the same time poses in morals with a bible in his hand,
is a man who saws his own legs from under him, and still expects us to
believe that he has legs, which we might possibly do if only our sight
were aided by faith. As long as my eyes hold out, I'll stick to unaided
vision; after that, spectacles or faith according to circumstances.

When goodness and virtue are measured, not by a book, but by our own
acts toward each other; when a man's character is judged by the amount
of joy he gives to his household; when a happy laugh from his children
and a bright smile from his wife greet him as often as he comes home;
when these are taken as the evidence of a good man, deacons will go out
of fashion. Meek, tired, persecuted-looking wives will not listen to a
canting husband and believe that he is a holy man, when they know that
he is a bad husband and a tyrannical father.

There is not any way that I know of to make a home happy vicariously. No
confession of faith can take pain out of a mother's heart. No "testimony
of the spirit" can make love and beauty in a home where "the heathen"
hold the first place, and foreign missions get tangled up in the
children's hair. No man accustomed to a high intellectual temperature
can keep warm by theological fires. No man whose brain is king can ever
again recognize the authority of this mere undisciplined sentiment.


As a system Christianity has had its day. Long ago it may have served a
good purpose, but after eighteen hundred years it is worn threadbare and
useless. If some of its milder tenets still cling to and fit our vast
mediocrity, it is equally certain that the intellectual giants have
moulted it as the birds moult their plumage in a dying year, and have
taken on the bright new garments of higher thought, the spring plumage
of intellectual liberty.

When I heard that the Bible was going to be revised I felt very glad,
because I thought there was a wide field of usefulness open to somebody
right there; and I concluded to do all I could to help it along. I
understood that they wanted the substance retained as it was, with the
language made more as we use language now.

So I began my revision in this way: "Good morning, Moses, I hear that
you have some gods in this country. Do you know anything about it?"

"Oh, yes, I'm the head god's head man." "You are?"

"Yes, I had a talk with the head god--the top one of the three (we are
down to three here now), and he told me to tell people what a good god
he is, and that they must all praise him up for it."

"He did! Well is that all he said?"

"Oh, no, he told me to tell them that he is the only God, and is the
kind father of all, and loves all alike, and that they must all just
trust in him and he will take good care of them."

"I thought you said a while ago that there were three of these gods; now
this one says he is the only one. Is there trouble in the cabinet?"

"No, there are three, but there is one. See?"

"Well, no, I can't say that I do. But no matter, the rest of that about
the father business was pretty good. That was the best I ever heard. But
do you know that the very last man I talked with said that this god was
partial to some folks and treated some others pretty shabbily."

"Oh, that is not so; my god is no respecter of persons; that's his very
strongest hold. He treats rich and poor just alike, only if anything he
leans a little toward the poor."

"That is pretty clever. But what else did he tell you in that talk?"

"Well, he told me to tell the people, 'Thou shalt not kill;' and
afterwards, at another time, he told me to take a lot of my men, and
go over there to that town just across, and kill all the men and boys I
could find, and if they fought hard for their homes, and I seemed to be
getting the worst of it for a little while, not to be afraid, he'd be
with me, and he'd see that I came out all right. Oh, he's the gayest old
god you ever saw to help in a fight."

"Well, yes, that was pretty clever to you; but isn't he the god of that
village too!"

"Oh, yes; but you see one of the men that lives over there went and
worshipped another god one day, and this one didn't like it."

"I see; but if he treats them all that way, don't you think it is rather
natural that they should go and hunt up another god to admire?"

Well, while I was waiting for Moses to answer this question, I heard
another man say that only a day or two previously this very fellow had
burned up their homes, and murdered a good many people who had never
injured him; and that he had dashed out the brains of the innocent
children, and had actually sold the sweet, pure young girls to his
brutal soldiers. Since I heard that, my mind has been so occupied with
some other little matters that my revision has not gone any farther, and
somebody else has got one out; so I don't know that I shall ever finish
mine. It does not seem to be very encouraging work any way; and I am
afraid that people would find fault with its scholarship if it should be
finished. Theological scholarship and common-sense always did disagree.
A man who is well vaccinated with either will never catch the other.


The Church used to keep a box about four feet long and two feet wide
which it called the sacred ark of God. It was certain death for any man
not a priest to touch that box. It is supposed that they kept in it gold
and jewels which they extorted from their dupes, and that for fear of
robbery they made superstition their banker. Well, they had to move
that jewelry-box once for some reason, and it is not said that anything
happened to the men who put it on the cart; but as the man who drove
the oxen--in one place it says that they were oxen, in another that they
were cows with young calves, and you will be damned if you don't believe
both--anyhow, as the driver walked along in horrid fear lest something
should happen to that ark of God, the oxen shied, and the ark toppled,
and instinctively the driver put out his hand to steady the sacred
thing. Well, you would think that any sane man, any reasonable being,
would have commended him for it; but no! Jehovah struck him dead for his
pains. Why? Because that box was so supremely sacred. Supreme nonsense!
Suppose he had not touched it and it had fallen? What then? Most likely
Jehovah would then have struck him dead for not touching it. It strikes
me that the only reasonable, sensible being connected with that whole
story was the driver, the man they abuse, the man the priests murdered,
I suspect because he discovered what was in that ark, and threatened to
expose the humbug.

Whenever any man uses judgment and common-sense the Church calls him
wicked and dangerous. They say he "touches with unholy hands holy
things;" and when he dies, whether his death was expedited or otherwise,
they say God killed him.

Now, if God did kill that man for touching the ark to save it from
falling, what do you think of him--as a God? I can tell you what you
would think of him as a man. You would think he was a ruffian and a
murderer--that is what you would think of him as a man.

Truly gods are made of poor stuff. If I can't have a god that is nobler
and better and truer and kinder than the very best man I ever saw, then
I don't want any god at all. And candor forbids me to state that I ever
saw, heard, or read of any such a god. All the gods I ever read or heard
of have fallen infinitely below a few men I know.

Jehovah, it seems to me, is hardly an average god, even as gods go. He
believed in polygamy. He believed in slavery. He was a murderer--killed
52,000 people once because somebody looked into that four-by-two box
that he thought so much of. Human life was not worth a copper in his
neighborhood. He was always in a rage about something, and you never
knew when he would "get the drop on you" because somebody else had
ruffled his temper. "Any man was liable," as the Irishman said, "to wake
up any morning and find himself burned to ashes in his bed," because one
of his neighbors had been wicked enough to lend a five-dollar greenback
to one of the Philistines, or had eaten a gum-drop in the dark of the
moon, or committed some other awful crime like-that.


In its day the Bible was all very well, no doubt. It was the expression
of the best that the Jewish people then knew in morals. In his time
Christ was a great reformer and a brave man. His philosophy was then an
onward spring, and he detested the shams of the Church.

But with the knowledge we have to-day we should call that man a lunatic
who tried to bind medical science by the teachings of that age, and
maintained that when a man was sick he had a devil, and that if he got
worse he had a whole flock of them. Yet Christ thought that. We should
call the man utterly insane who insisted that Joshua gave us the last
light that is ever to be thrown on astronomy. We should simply look
with pity on one who should try to convince us that the legal profession
ought to be bound by the laws of Moses; and we know that any nation
that attempted to act under his guidance would be soon convinced by the
unerring voice of foreign cannon that somebody had made a mistake.

Science has grown. Philosophy has developed. International law has
sprung up. In religion alone we are asked to accept the standard of
morality and honor of ages that are dead--to take as the last word of
wisdom the reformer's code of eighteen hundred years ago. We may grow in
all else; in this we must stand still. We may use a text-book on
Nature, Medicine, Law, or Mechanics, until by its aid we pass beyond its
knowledge to a higher; but in morals and religion the book that was a
light to the ages of ignorance and superstition, and the production of
its brain, must still be the sole illuminator of a world made wise and
critical and thoughtful by science and deep experience. The fisherman's
lantern, although useful in its day, cannot guide us while we stand
in the glare of electricity. Why stand persistently with our faces
westward, and gaze at the declining light, crying out impotently and
hopelessly as we see it grow dim and vanish?

Our wise men have kept steadily onward, guided by the light of the
breaking dawn; and with their faces to the East their star has never
set. The fishermen's light has sunk below the horizon, leaving behind it
the glow of honest labor and earnest effort to keep their memory bright.
The scientist's star has risen, and with no claim that it is even yet
the highest light--the final promise, it throws its rays of knowledge,
its beams of hope, far into the future, and bids us follow, leaving
the cold embers of the dead past for the warmth and light of the living

The hope of the past is the despair of the future. Stagnation is death.
In movement and thought alone is progress. The wealth of the world is
the brain of the scholar.

The past is dead; peace to its ashes. The future is ours to form on new
models; models deformed by past superstitions, or models though faulty,
instinct with true freedom. You are the jury, what is the verdict?




IT is one of the glittering fictions of the Church that to her
civilization is due,* and that it is to her benign influence and
direction alone that woman has been advanced to her present position in
the social scale; that without the Bible and the Church the status of
woman in Christian countries would be lower and her lot harder.

     * See Appendix T,

1st. To prove this claim she directs attention to the status of woman
in several non-Christian countries, and compares the degradation and
hardship she there endures to the position of woman to-day in America,
England, and France.

2d. The Church claims the credit of originating and sustaining the
various steps of progress by which woman has been elevated. She claims
to have originated and to sustain the idea that woman is man's equal,
and to recognize her as such in the Church.

3d. She points with pride to the superior education and intelligence
of the women of Christian countries, and contrasts this intellectual
altitude with that of women elsewhere. She says that women owe their
superior opportunities of education and advancement to their religion.

4th. But above all the clergy attempt to silence those who ask
questions, by calling attention to the superior _legal_ status of woman
in Christian countries, and asserting that the Church secured this, _and
that it made marriage honorable and home a possibility_.

5th. The clergy claim that the Bible is woman's best friend and
staunchest defender, and that it is the originator of morality.


     "The moment there is fixation, petrification and death
     ensue." "Profound sincerity is the only basis of


We are told that our superior civilization and high moral tone are due
to Christianity. I think that this is not true. The whole, or at
least much the larger and foundation part of the question of
civilization--where it shall grow and where only live, where it shall
drag and where scarcely exist--seems to me to be decided primarily by
environment, the basis of which is climate and soil.

Where the climate and soil are most favorable to the highest
development; where the environment is neither too hard nor too
indulgent; where man is neither enervated by heat and the absence
of necessity to labor, nor stunted by cold and hardship and the
ever-present necessity to search or labor for food and warmth; there
will be the highest types and forms of civilization.*

     * See Appendix A*

If the Buddhist religion had chanced to be the one that in the process
of events took root in the climate and soil where the Hebrew Bible and
the Christian belief hold sway; and if, on the other hand, the Hebrew
and Christian religions had been the ones developed in India or China,
the civilization of the various countries would still, in the main, be
what they are to-day.

If our superior civilization were the result of our religion, then
the most civilized countries would be the most intensely Christian
countries. We all know that this is not the case. Compare the intense
Christianity of Spain or Russia, and their backward civilization, with
the easy-going religious or irreligious condition of France or America,
and their recognition of Liberty and Humanity, equalled nowhere else on

I admit unreservedly that a religion; by its inelasticity, may do much
to retard progress, or by its greater elasticity may permit a more rapid
development than a more nearly petrified or incoherent system would
allow; but what I hold is this, that the primary and controlling causes
of the various stages of civilization are climate and soil.

There are, of course, many other things which modify the social
development or civilization in any country, as its religion, its laws,
and what we may call "accidents of international or civil contest," such
as the religious or other wars--our own war in which the blacks were
freed, arbitration, and immigration. All of these, and many others, are
modifying influences; but no one of them can claim the primary place.

Soil, climate, and location determine the occupation of a nation, as
whether it shall be militant, commercial, or agricultural. In turn
occupation determines what the character of a people and their laws
shall be, whether they shall be warlike or peaceful, inventive or
receptive, stationary or roving; and these, in turn, are the matters
which determine the civil scale to which a people shall rise.

True, the religion of a people will make itself felt strongly; but
whenever a nation has found it expedient or desirable to accomplish a
feat which was in opposition to its religion, it has invariably modified
the religion to fit the case, or waived it in favor of that particular

     * "The popular religion in this, as in other cases, was
     made to bend to the new vice."--Lecky's History of European
     Morals, vol. il, page 311.

In keeping with this fact it is found that in those countries where the
greatest changes and modifications of government and occupation have
occurred, there have the religions undergone the greatest modification
_to fit the new order of things_. If it were the religion that
determined the matter, civilization and morals would be immovable, and
legislation would revolve around, the guidance of the Church.

According to the very theory of Divine revelation a religion would be
most perfect at its beginning. It would be without flaw when born.
It would be incapable of improvement or growth. In a word it would be
immovable. It would possess the fixation of which Emerson speaks. It
would not have to readjust itself to the changed and improved conditions
of man, and its word would be always a higher light on every movement of
progress. It would be to the Church and not to the State that the great
principles of progress, of liberty, and of justice would look for the
highest guidance and the last light. How far this is from the real
state of things in any country or in any religion all readers of history

     * See Appendix B.

It is the State or Science which has proposed and made the steps of
progress, and the Church has (often after the most bitter fight and
denunciation) readjusted her creed to the new code, and then claimed
that she had that light and knew that principle before, although neither
she nor any one else had ever suspected it.

This has been the case with almost every important discovery that
Science has ever made. The Church has retarded the acceptance of the new
light, and has set her seal of "divine disapproval and damnation" on the
brow of the thinkers who strove to bless mankind. It has been the rule
in State reforms as well. It was so in the struggle to separate Church
and State. It is so in the effort to sustain the belief in the "divine
right of kings." The Church fought individual liberty and representative
government, and she still contests the questions of individual
conscience and universal equality and independence.*

     * See reports of the last General Conference of the
     Methodist Church held in Philadelphia, where, during a
     heated debate, one member said that he was in favor of using
     common-sense and the principle of justice in deciding
     questions of right and wrong and of liberty of conscience;
     whereupon a large majority voted him a dangerous man, and
     decided that common-sense and justice had nothing to do with
     religion. One member naively remarked that the whole career
     and life of a good preacher fully disproved that any such
     heretical doctrines obtained in the Church as that the use
     of common-sense was admissible; and since the majority voted
     with him it does not seem to be my place to question that

In these matters the Church has invariably been on the side that
ultimately had to go to the wall, and she has become a party to the
progress only after the principle has become an established fact.

Now it is the efforts of Science and Law towards the elevation of man
and the bettering of his condition in this world--the procuring for him
of greater personal advantages, dignity, and liberty--that have marked
the progress of civilization.

The climate and soil decided man's occupation; his occupation determined
what his higher needs should be; and his higher needs and the gained
results of his occupations enabled him to strive for the bettering of
his condition and surroundings. The man who lived in a climate favorable
to mental and physical activity, and in a country with a rich and
varied soil, was enabled to accomplish his ends as his less fortunate
brother-lacking such support and stimulus and motive--has been unable to

If such a thing had been possible, thirty years ago, as that all
knowledge of our religion had been utterly wiped out of America, and
a thorough knowledge of Buddhism or Mohammedanism instilled into every
Yankee brain in its stead, the Yankee brain would have simply adjusted
its religion to its surroundings and not its surroundings to its
religion; and America would have gone right on in the front rank of
liberty and toleration and progress. There would have been social
and political and religious contests over "caste" or "harems" or
"Tripitaka," instead of over slavery as a divine institution, the right
of a mother to her own offspring, or the inspiration of the Bible. The
wheels of progress would have been blocked some days by devotees who
preached damnation for those who believed in the "Trinity" instead of
for those who did not. Hell would have been as freely promised to the
man who suggested that Newton knew more than Mohammed, as it is to-day
to any one who makes the same odious comparison between Darwin and
Moses. The timid would have been terrified by sermons to prove the
lost condition of a man who touched one of lower rank, in place of
the edification our clergy offer in the shape of eternal damnation
for unbaptized infants. And there would have been so little difference
between the arguments for the divinity of the Tripitaka and the Bible,
and for the miracles of each, that if any devout Presbyterian had by
accident left his barrel of sermons on the latter subject behind him,
his Buddhist brother could have utilized them without the change of an
argument. But the wheel would turn and the devotee would either go
down or change his creed, and it would depend chiefly upon his age and
consequent flexibility which course he would adopt.

No known religion could transfer the conditions of civilization in China
to America or England or France, and no amount of christianizing (if
such a thing were possible) could transform China into a like condition
with us, so long as her climate, her soil, and her population remain
what they are to-day. You may make the Arab or the Jap digest the whole
Westminster catechism, but he will, he _must_, be an Arab or a Jap
still--if he lives through it all. If his constitution is good, and he
gets over it, his condition and grade of civilization will continue to
conform to his environment; and the trifling difference involved between
turning-off prayers on a wheel and counting them off on beads will be
simply the difference between tweedledee and tweedledum.

Notwithstanding this as a primary fact, the religion of a country has a
modifying influence on the rapidity of its progress, and the more fixed
a religion--the more certainly it claims perfection, the greater claim
it lays to holding the final word; _and the more fully this claim is
accepted by the people_, the greater influence will it have, the greater
check will it be to the development of any new thought, discovery,
invention, or principle that arises in the process of evolution toward
a freer atmosphere and a broader understanding of individual liberty and
dignity and life. William Kingdon Clifford, F. R. S., in his delightful
book on the "Scientific Basis of Morals," says:

"It is sometimes said that moral questions have been authoritatively
settled by other methods; that we ought to accept this decision, and
not to question it by any method of scientific inquiry; and that reason
should give way to revelation on such matters.

"I hope before I have done to show just cause why we should pronounce on
such teaching as this no light _sentence of moral condemnation_: first,
because it is our duty to form those beliefs which are to guide our
actions by the two scientific modes of inference, and by these alone;
and, secondly, because the proposed mode of settling ethical questions
by authority is contrary to the very nature of right and wrong.

"The worship of a deity who is represented as unfair or unfriendly to
any portion of the community is a wrong thing, however great may be
the threats and promises by which it is commended. And still worse, the
reference of right and wrong to his arbitrary will as a standard, _the
diversion of the allegiance of the moral sense from the community to
him, is the most insidious and fatal of social diseases_.

"_The first principle of natural ethics is the sole and supreme
allegiance of conscience to the community_.

"Secondly, veracity to the community depends upon faith in man. Surely I
ought to be talking platitudes when I say that it is not English to
tell a man a lie, or to suggest a lie by your silence or your actions,
because you are afraid that he is not prepared for the truth, because
you don't quite know what he will do when he knows it, because perhaps
after all this lie is a better thing _for him_ than the truth would be,
this same man being all the time an honest fellow-citizen whom you have
every reason to trust. Surely I have heard that this craven crookedness
is the object of our national detestation. _And yet it is constantly
whispered that it would be dangerous to divulge certain truths to the
masses_. 'I know the whole thing is untrue: but then it is so useful for
the people; you don't know what harm you might do by shaking their faith
in it.' Crooked ways are none the less crooked because they are meant
to deceive great masses of people instead of individuals. If a thing is
true, let us all believe it, rich and poor, men, women, and children. If
a thing is untrue, let us all disbelieve it, rich and poor, men, women,
and children. Truth is a thing to be shouted from the housetops, not to
be whispered over rose-water after dinner when the ladies are gone away.

"Even in those whom I would most reverence, who would shrink with horror
from such actual deception as I have just mentioned, I find traces of
a want of faith in man. Even that noble thinker, to whom we of this
generation owe more than I can tell, seemed to say in one of his
posthumous essays that in regard to questions of great public importance
we might encourage a hope in excess of the evidence (which would
infallibly grow into a belief and defy evidence) if we found that life
was made easier by it. _As if we should not lose infinitely more by
nourishing a tendency to falsehood than we could gain by the delusion of
a pleasing fancy_. Life must first of all be made straight and true;
it may get easier through the help this brings to the commonwealth. And
Lange, the great historian of materialism, says that the amount of false
belief necessary to morality in a given society is a matter of taste. _I
cannot believe that any falsehood whatever is necessary to morality_. It
cannot be true of my race and yours that to keep ourselves from becoming
scoundrels we must needs believe a lie. _The sense of right grew up
among healthy men and was fixed by the practice of comradeship. It has
never had help from phantoms and falsehoods, and it never can want any_.
By faith in man and piety toward men we have taught each other the right
hitherto; with faith in man and piety toward men we shall never more
depart from it."

If religion decided and produced the civilization of a people, what sort
of civilization would exist to-day among the Jews? All Jews would be
bigamists, and murder would be their pastime. No people would be free
from their rapine, no woman safe from their lust. But fortunately they
have followed their scientific and political leaders instead of their
Prophets, and the consequence is that they are so far above and
superior to their religion and their Bible, that only in its trivial and
immaterial dictates is it their guide and law to-day.

And we, building upon the same foundation, with an added story to our
edifice, modify, to suit legislation and a higher public sentiment and a
broader conception of justice, both the foundation and the roof whenever
a new principle is born or some great soul floods the world with light.

And so the world moves on, those nations in advance that possess the
climate to stimulate and the soil to support to the best advantage their
citizens--philosophers and scientists who grope towards perfection and
stumble on the way over real and imaginary obstacles, but still bring
each generation nearer the goal, and freer to brush aside the cobwebs
of superstition and ignorance, and to look fairly out on the light that
breaks in the East.

There is another feature of the subject that will bear looking at.
Christians are the last to give credit to other religions for the
development and advance of civilization in the countries possessing
them. What Christian will admit that it is the religion of the Chinese
that makes them the most orderly, law-abiding, mob-avoiding people on
the globe? Will any Christian admit that it is the inferior moral tone
of Christ and his teachings which enables the followers of Confucius
and Buddha to offer this superior showing? Is he prepared to say that
Mohammedanism is superior to Christianity because its followers outdo
the Christians in honesty?* Is it owing to the superior blessings of the
Mormon faith that its followers are more thrifty, and that paupers are
few or unknown among them?

     * Travelers tell us that a native can leave an order
     together with a bag of uncounted gold at the shop of a
     dealer, and upon the return of the buyer his order will be
     exactly filled, his gold properly and honestly divided, and
     all where he had left them, even though the shop be open to
     the street and unattended and unguarded.

Is it because their religion is superior to ours that the Lapp women
are better treated; that their comparative status is higher, and their
family life purer than with ourselves?*

     * "Though Norway with Ladies." By W. Mattieu Williams.
     F.R.A.S., F.C.S.

The claim that superiority of civilization is due to Christianity,
and that to it we owe the good things of the nations where it is the
prevailing religion, proves too much. _It will work just as well for
any other religion as for our own_. Its reach is too extended, its
conclusion too comprehensive for its purpose. Christianity could not be
made its sole terminus. It reminds one of the story of the brakeman who
was persuaded to go to church. When he came out his friend asked him
how he liked the preacher. He said, "Very well, on the main line. He
had good wheels, his track was straight and level, and he carried a good
head of steam, but he seemed to _lack terminal facilities_."

Horace Seaver recently wrote the following:


     "It is a very common argument with Christians, that only
     those nations which have had the Bible were refined,
     civilized, and learned. A Christian paper, now before us,
     exultingly says:

     "'Take the map of the world, draw a line around those
     countries that have enjoyed the highest degree of
     refinement, and you will encircle just those nations that
     have received the Bible as their authority in religion.'

     "From this language the plain inference is, that those
     nations have been indebted to the influence of the Bible for
     the positions to which they have attained. Let us follow out
     a little this line of argument and see where it will lead.

     "The ancient Egyptians stood as far in advance of their
     contemporaries as do the nations of Christendom at the
     present day, as the remains of Egyptian cities and temples
     fully attest. And if the argument is good, they were
     indebted for that superiority to their worship of cats,
     crocodiles, and onions!

     "The ancient Greek might have exclaimed, as he beheld the
     proud position to which Greece had attained--'See what we
     owe to a belief in our glorious mythology; we have reached
     the highest point of enlightenment the world has ever
     witnessed; we stand unequalled in power, wealth, the
     cultivation of the arts, and all that makes a nation
     refined, polished, and great!'"


It is a fact that in some Christian countries the actual status of woman
is higher than it is to-day in any other country; but it is also true
that her _comparative_ status is often lower.*

     * See Appendix C, 1-6.

If we compare the actual status of woman in Russia or Spain (the two
most intensely Christian countries to-day) with that of the Chinese or
Hindoo woman, the showing may be somewhat in favor of the former; but on
the other hand, her _comparative_ position (when taken with that of the
men of her country) does not gain but loses by the contrast.

     "How immeasurably would his faith in the elevating tendency
     of his religion have been increased, could he have looked
     with prophetic eye into the distant ages of the future, and
     beheld the enlightened and Christianized nations of the
     nineteenth century adopting the remains of Grecian
     architecture, sculpture, painting, oratory, music, and
     literature as their models!

     "Pagan Rome, too, once mistress of the world and arbitress
     of nations--the home of philosophers and sages--the land in
     which the title, 'I am a Roman citizen,' was the proudest
     that a mortal could wear--Rome, by the above Christian
     argument, should have ascribed all her honor, praise, and
     glory to her mythology.

     "The Turk and the Saracen, likewise, have had their day of
     power and renown. Bagdad was the seat of science and
     learning at a time when the nations of Europe were sunk in
     darkness and superstition. The Turk and Saracen should have
     pointed to the Koran as the source of their refinement.

     "Thus we see that the Christian argument we are noticing, if
     it proves anything, proves too much. If the nations of
     Christendom are indebted to the Bible for their
     enlightenment, likewise were the Egyptians indebted to their
     cat and crocodile and onion worship, the Greeks and Romans
     to their mythology, and the Turks and Saracens to their

It is a significant fact that of all the Christian countries, in those
where the Church stands highest and has most power women rank lowest
and have fewest rights accorded them, whether of personal liberty
or proprietary interest. In the countries named above, and in other
countries where the Church still has a strong grip upon the throat
of the State, woman's position is degraded indeed; while in the three
so-called Christian countries where the Church has _least_ power, where
law is not wholly or in so large part canonical, woman's position is
more free, more independent, and less degraded, when compared with the
position of the men of those countries.

That tells the whole story. If it were to the Church or to her religion
that she owed her advancement, it would be in the most strictly
Christian countries that her elevation and advantages would be greatest.
Under the canon law her status would be higher than under the common
law. On the contrary, however, it is under the least religious, freest,
and most purely secular forms of government that she has attained most
full recognition and secured the greatest advancement.

Compare the position of woman in Christian Spain with her position in
Infidel France. Compare her condition in Russia, with the flag of the
Church and the seal of the Cross for her protection, with that of her
sister under the stars and stripes of America, with a constitution
written by the infidels Jefferson and Paine.

Compare them and decide whether it is to the Church and the Cross, with
their wars and persecutions, or to Liberty and Scepticism that women owe
their loyal love and their earnest support. Compare them and determine
then whether it is to Christianity or to Science that she should fly for
protection, and where it is that she will be most certain of justice.
Compare them and answer whether it is to the Fathers of the Church or
to the Founders of Republics that women should be most grateful. Compare
them, and be thankful, oh women of America, that the Church never had
her hand on the throat of the Constitution of the United States, and
that she is losing her grip on the Supreme Bench! *

In our pride of race we forget that it is less than three hundred short
years since Christianity by both legal and spiritual power enforced the
most degrading and vile conditions upon woman, compelling her to live
solely by the sale of her virtue.**

Only within the past three hundred years of growing scepticism and loss
of power by the Church has either purity or dignity become possible for
women; and it is well for us to remember that for over 1500 years
of Christianity, when the Church had almost absolute power, it never
dreamed of elevating woman, or recognizing her as other than an inferior
being created solely to minister to the lowest nature of man, and
possessing neither a right to her own person nor a voice in her own

I wish that every woman who upholds the Church to-day might read the
array of facts on this subject so ably presented by Matilda Joslyn Gage
in her work on "Woman, Church, and State," a digest of which is printed
in the last chapter of vol. 1. of the "History of Woman Suffrage," of
which she is one of the editors. It is so ably written, and the facts
collected are so damning, that I need add no word of mine to such
passages as I can give from it, in the accompanying appendix to this
work. ***

     * On the status of women there is much of interest in Mr.
     Herbert Spencer's "Principles of Sociology," vol 1. Mr.
     Spencer deals with the subject, in the main, from a
     different point of view from the one taken in this article;
     but that his position (in regard to the causes of woman's
     advancement being due to the Church) is not wholly unlike my
     own, will, I think, be readily seen. He places more stress
     on the results of war than I have done (and in this the
     corroborating evidence furnished by the Holy wars would
     sustain the position of both), I having included this phase
     of action under the term occupation, since I have dealt
     almost wholly with nations more advanced and freer from the
     fortunes of the Militant type than Mr. Spencer has done.

     ** See Appendix D.

     ***  See Appendix E.


Blackstone enumerates three "absolute rights of persons." First, "The
right of personal _security_, in the legal enjoyment of life,
limb, body, health, and reputation." Second, "The right of personal
liberty--free power of locomotion without legal restraint." Third, "The
right of private property--the free use and disposal of his own lawful

None of these three primary and essential rights of persons were
conceded to women, and Church law did not rank her as a person deprived
of these rights, but held that she was _not a person at all_, but only a
function; therefore she possessed no rights of person in this world and
no hope of safety in the next.

As to the first of these "absolute rights of persons," any one of her
male relations, or her husband after she passed from one to the other,
had absolute power over her, even to the extent of bodily injury,*
bargain and sale of her person, and death. Nor did even this limit the
number of her masters. By both Church and Common Law the Lords temporal
(barons and other peers) and the Lords spiritual (Archbishops, Bishops,
and Abbots) possessed and exercised the right to dispose of her purity,
either for a money consideration or as a bribe or present as they saw

     * "Although England was christianized in the fourth century,
     it was not until the tenth that a daughter had a right to
     reject a husband selected for her by her father; and it was
     not until the same century that a Christian wife of a
     Christian husband acquired the right of eating at the table
     with him. For many hundred years the law bound out to
     servile labor all unmarried women between the ages of eleven
     and forty."--M. J. Gage.

     "Wives in England were bought from the fifth to the
     eleventh century" [The dates are significant; let the Church
     respond.]--Herbert Spencer.

     "In England, as late as the seventeenth century, husbands of
     decent station were not ashamed to beat their wives.
     Gentlemen arranged parties of pleasure for the purpose of
     seeing wretched women whipped at Bridewell. It was not until
     1817 that the public whipping of women was abolished in

     ** See Appendix E.

Thus was the forced degradation of woman made a source of revenue to
the Church, and a means of crushing her self-respect and destroying her
sense of personal responsibility as to her own acts in the matter of
chastity, the legitimate outcome of which is to be found in the vast
army of women who are named only to be reviled. _In them the Church can
look on her own work_. The fruit is the natural outcome of the training
woman received that taught and compelled her _always_ to submit to
the dictates of some man, no matter what her own judgment, modesty, or
desires might be. She was not supposed to have an opinion or to know
right from wrong; and from Paul's injunction, "If you want to know
anything ask your husband at home," down to the decisions of the last
General Conference of the Methodist Church, the teaching that woman must
subordinate her own sense of right and her own judgment to the dictates
of someone else--_any_ one else of the opposite sex--from first to last
has been as ingenious a method as could have been devised to fill the
world with libertines and their victims.* It is time for the followers
of St. Paul to nice the results of their own work.

     * See Appendix F, 2.

Under the provisions of the law which held that all "persons" could
recover damages for injury--have legal redress for a wrong inflicted
upon them--woman again was held as _not a 'person._

If she were assaulted and beaten, or if she were subjected to the
greatest indignity that it is possible to inflict upon her, she had
no redress. She could not complain. The law gave her no protection
whatever. Her father or husband could, if he saw fit, bring suit to
recover damages for the loss of _her services as a servant and wholly
upon the ground that it was an injury to him and to his feelings_. She
was no more recognized as a "person" in the matter, nor was she more
highly considered than if she were an inmate of a zoological garden to
which some mischievous visitor had fed too many bonbons. The owner was
damaged because the brute might die or be injured in the sight of the
patrons, but aside from that view of the case no harm was done and no
account taken of so trivial a matter.

No matter what the injury she sustained, whether it crippled her
physically or blighted her mentally and made life to her the worst curse
that could be inflicted, she had no appeal. The wounded feelings of one
of her male relations received due consideration, and he could recover
the money-value he might set upon the injury to his lacerated mind. This
is still the letter and the practice of the law in many places, even in

If she had no male relations, the injury did not count, and no "person"
being injured everything was lovely, and prayers went right on to the
God who, being no respecter of persons (provided they were free, white,
adult males), enjoyed the incense from altars whereon burning "witches"
writhed in agony and helpless young girls plead for mercy under
the loathed and loathsome touch of the "St." Augustines* and "St."
Pelayos,** whose praises are chanted and whose divine goodness is
recounted by Christendom to-day.

     * "To Augustine, whose early life was spent in company with
     the most degraded of womankind, is Christianity indebted for
     the full development of the doctrine of Original sin."

     "All or at least the greater part of the fathers of the
     Greek Church before Augustine, denied any real original
     sin."--Emerson. "The doctrine had a gradual growth, and was
     fully developed by Augustine."

     ** "The abbot elect of St. Augustine, at Canterbury, in
     1171, was found on investigation to have seventeen
     illegitimate children in a single village.   An abbot of St.
     Pelayo in Spain, in 1180, was proved to have kept no less
     than seventy mistresses. Henry III, Bishop of Liege, was
     deposed in 1274 for having sixty-five illegitimate
     --Leeky, "Hist, of European Morals."

     "This same bishop boasted, at a public banquet, that in
     twenty-two months fourteen children had been born to him. A
     license to the clergy to keep concubines was during several
     centuries levied by princes."--Ibid.

     "It was openly attested that 100,000 women in England alone
     were made dissolute by the clergy."
     --Draper, "Intellectual Development of Europe."

Such was the "_elevation" and civilization offered by the Church to
woman_. These are among her debts to the Church, and the men who fought
and contended against the incorporation of such infamy into the common
law were branded as infidels. It was said they denied their Lord. They
were pronounced most dangerous, and the clergy held up their hands in
holy horror and whispered that such men "as much as denied the Bible,
blasphemed their God, and sold their souls to the Devil." And the women,
poor dupes, believed it.

One method the Church took to benefit woman and show its respect for her
was this: any married man was prohibited from being a priest. Women
were so unholy, so unclean, and so inferior, that to have one as a wife
degraded a man to such an extent that he was unfit to be a minister or
to touch holy things. The Catholic Church still prohibits either
party who is so unholy as to marry from profaning its pulpit'; but the
Protestant Churches divide up, giving women the disabilities and mon the
offices. The unselfishness of such a course is quite touching. It says
to women: "You support us and we will damn you; there is nothing mean or
niggardly about us."

As to Blackstone's second count--"the right to personal liberty"--I can
perhaps do no better than give a few bald facts.

Under Pagan rule the personal liberty of woman had become very
considerable, as well as her proprietary liberty; but Christianity began
her degradation at once.

Christianity was introduced into England in the fourth century, and the
_sale of women began in the fifth_; and it was not until the eleventh
that a girl could refuse to marry any suitor her father chose for
her. In a word, she always had a guardian; she had no personal liberty
whatever; she could neither buy nor own property as her brothers could;
she could not marry when and whom she preferred, live where she wished,
eat, drink, or wear what she liked, or refuse any of these provisions
when they were offered by her male relatives. If they decided that she
had too many back teeth they simply pulled them out, and she had nothing
to say on the subject. She could be sold outright by her father, or
leased or bound out as he preferred. She never got so old but that
her earnings belonged to him, and a mother never arrived at an age
sufficiently advanced to be entitled to the earnings of her children.

Sharswood says, "A father is entitled to the benefits of his children's
labor." "An infant [any one not of age] owes reverence and respect to
his mother; but she has no right to his services."*

     * Blackstone.  Sharswood.

This is upon the theory, doubtless, that starvation is wholesome for a
widowed mother, but that it does not agree with a father's digestion at
any time.

Sir Henry Maine in his "Ancient Law." says, that from the Pagan laws all
this inequality and oppressiveness of guardianship and restriction
of the personal liberty of women had disappeared, and he adds: "The
consequence was that the situation of the Roman female, whether married
or unmarried, became one of great personal and proprietary independence.
_But Christianity tended somewhat from the very first to narrow this
remarkable liberty...._ The great jurisconsult himself [Gaius] scouts
the popular Christian apology offered for it in the mental inferiority
of the female sex.... Led by their theory of Natural Law, the Roman
[Pagan] jurisconsults had evidently at this time assumed the equality of
the sexes as a principle of their code of equity."

Of the Christians, led by their theory of a revealed divine law which
treated women as inferior beings and useful only as prey, Lecky says
("European Morals," vol. 1, page 358): "But in the whole feudal
[Christian and chiefly Canon] legislation women were placed in a much
lower legal position than in the Pagan empire. The complete inferiority
of the sex was continually maintained by the law; and that generous
public opinion which in Pagan Rome had frequently revolted against the
injustice done to girls, in depriving them of the greater part of the
inheritance of their fathers, totally disappeared. _Wherever the canon
law has been the basis of legislation, we find laws of succession
sacrificing the Merest of daughters and of wives_, and a state of public
opinion which has been formed and regulated by these laws; nor was
any serious attempt made to abolish them _till the close of the last
century_. The French revolutionists, though rejecting the proposal of
Sieyes and Condorcet [both infidels] to accord political emancipation to
women, established at least an equal succession of sons and daughters,
and thus initiated a great reformation of both law and opinion which
sooner or later must traverse the world."

How soon or how late this will happen will depend very greatly upon the
amount of power retained by the Church. Pagans, Infidels, and Scientists
have fought for, and the Church has fought against, the dignity, honor,
and welfare of women for centuries; and because fear, organization,
wealth, selfishness, and power have been on the side of the Church, and
she has kept women too ignorant to understand the situation, she has
succeeded for many generations in retarding the progress and shutting
out the light that slowly came in despite of her.

"_No society which preserves any tincture of Christian institutions is
ever_ likely to restore to married women the personal liberty conferred
on them by the middle Roman law; but the proprietary disabilities of
married females stand on quite a different basis from their personal
incapacities, and it is by keeping alive and consolidating the former
that _the canon law has so deeply injured civilization_. There are
many vestiges of a _struggle between the secular and ecclesiastical
principles; but the canon law nearly everywhere prevailed._"*

     * Maine's "Ancient Law," 158.

It has always been uphill work fighting the Church. So long as it had
sword and fagot at its command, and the will to use them; so long as it
pretended to have, and people believed that it had, power to mete out
damnation to its opposers; just so long were science, justice, and
thought fatally crippled.

But when Voltaire, Diderot, Condorcet and the great encyclopedist circle
of France got their hands on the throat of the Church, and dipped their
pens in the fire of eloquence, wit, ridicule, reason, and justice,
then, and not till then, began to dawn a day of honor toward women, of
humanity and justice and truth. They drew back the curtain, the world
saw, the cloud lifted, and life began on a new plane. Under Pagan rule
woman had begun, as we have seen, to receive recognition apart from
sex. She was a human being. A general law of "persons" applied to
and shielded her. But from the first the Christian Church refused to
consider her apart from her capacity for reproduction; and this one
ground of consideration it pronounced a curse, a crime, and a shame to
her. Her only claim to recognition at all was a curse. She was not a
person, she was only a function.*

      * See Lea's "Sacerdotal Celibacy."

Man it pronounced a person first, with rights, privileges, and
protection as such. Incidentally he might also be a husband, a father,
or a son. His welfare, duties, and rights as a person, as a human being,
were apart from and superior to those that were special and incidental.
He received consideration always as a person. He _might_ be dealt with
as husband or father.

But ignoring all her mental life and denying that she had any, and
ignoring all her physical possibilities, ambitions, desires, and
capabilities as a person, the Church narrowed woman's life and
restricted her energies into a compass where its power over her became
absolute and her subjection certain. Nor has the loss been wholly
to woman, for any influence which cripples the mother's capacity of
endowment takes cruel revenge on the race.*

     * "It is not impossible but that a more correct
     understanding of the laws of life and heredity may establish
     the fact that because of the subjection of woman, the entire
     race has been mentally dwarfed and physically weakened."

From this outlook the debt of civilization to the Church is heavy
indeed. Is it a debt of gratitude?

Under this head there is space for but one point farther, out of the
great store at hand.

The clergy were licensed to commit crime. They got up a neat little
scheme called "benefit of clergy" by which they were secure from
the punishment meted out to other criminals. The relief offered did
sometimes reach other men, but as learning was largely confined to the
clergy they were the chief beneficiaries, as the name implies and as was
the intent of the law. Any man who could read was allowed "benefit
of clergy;" in other words, his punishment was lightened or entirely
omitted. But a woman, though she were a perfect mine of wisdom and could
read in any number of languages, could receive no such benefit, _because
she could not take holy orders_. They first enacted that she should
not take orders, and then they denied to her the relief which only that
ability could give. So great a favorite was woman with the Church!

The ordinary male criminal received the ordinary punishment, the clergy
received none; and in order that the requisite gross amount of suffering
for crime should be inflicted on somebody, the clergy enacted that woman
should receive _their_ share vicariously in addition to her own,
and then to this they added such interest as would make the
twenty-per-cent-a-month men of Wall street ashamed of their stupid

Thus the Church arrogated to itself the exclusive right to commit crime
with impunity, and also claimed and exercised the right to prevent women
from learning to read. If she still persisted it could then punish her
doubly, _because she had no right to learn_.

For offenses for which ordinary men were hanged, women were burned
alive, and priests were glorified. For larceny a man was branded in the
hand or imprisoned for a few months; while _for a first offence_ of
the kind a woman was kindly permitted to be hanged or beheaded _without
benefit of clergy_; and the clergy went scot free.* The Church did then
as it does now, it claimed all the benefits of citizenship and paid none
of the penalties and bore none of the burdens.**

     * Blackstone.   Christian.

     ** It still claims exemption from taxation, thus throwing
     its burden on others; and it also claims immunity from the
     very gambling laws which it so rigidly enforces against
     other institutions.

The Church did then just as it does now, in principle, in setting up
certain great benefits which _only priests might hope to obtain, and
then enacting that certain persons were forever ineligible to the
priesthood_; and the same or quite as good reasons were given for
denying women such relief from the penalties of the law as was freely
extended to men, as are given to-day for refusing her the liberty,
emoluments, and benefits that are freely accorded to the most imbecile
little theological student who is educated by the needle of a sister
and supported by money wrung from the fears of shop or factory girls,
to whom he paints the terrors of hell, and freely threatens the same to
those who disobey him. Salvation comes high, but no preacher ever gets
so poor that he cannot distribute hell free of charge to the multitude
without the least diminution of his stock-in-trade.

I should think that an orthodox pulpit would be about the last place a
self-respecting woman would wish to fill; but I am glad, since there
are some who do so wish, that the issue has again been forced upon the
Church, and that in 1884, true to her history, she was again compelled
to acknowledge herself a respecter of persons, a degrader of women, and
a clog to progress and individual liberty, equality, and conscience.

I am glad that women have recently forced the Methodist and Presbyterian
Churches to declare their principles of class preference and partial
legislation. I am glad that in 1884 these Churches were compelled to say
in effect to women, so that the world could hear: "You are not and you
never can be our equals. We are holy. You are unclean. We will hold you
back and down to the ancient level we made for you just as long as the
life is in us; and if you ever receive recognition as a human being, it
must be at the hands of those who defy the Church and hate creeds that
are not big enough to go all round. Our creeds are only large enough to
give each sex half. But we won't be stingy, we only want our share. You
are entirely welcome to all the degradation here and all the damnation
hereafter; and any man who attempts to deprive you of these blessings is
a heretic and a sinner. Let us pray."


In dealing with this point the humor of the situation is too plain to
require comment, and I need only cite a few facts in order to place the
beautiful little fiction where it belongs.*

     * See Appendix T.

As to general education it is well known that the Church has fought
investigation and persecuted science. From the third century to Bruno,
and from Bruno to Darwin and Tyndall there is an unbroken chain of
evidence as to her position in these matters and her opposition to the
diffusion of knowledge. When, however, it became impossible for her to
resist the demand of the people for education; when she could no longer
retard liberty and prevent the recognition of individual rights; then
she modestly demanded the right to do the teaching herself and to
control its extent and scope.*

With a brain stultified by faith** she proposed to regulate
investigations in which the habit of faith would necessarily prove fatal
to the discovery of truth.*** She proposed to teach nothing but the dead
languages and theology, and to confine knowledge to these fields, and
she succeeded for many generations in so doing. Every time she found a
man who had discovered something, or who had a theory he was trying to
test by some little scientific investigations, she cried "heretic" and
suppressed that man. She stuck to the dead languages, and the only
thing she is not afraid of to-day is something dead. Any other kind of
knowledge is a dangerous acquaintance for her to make. ****

If you meet a clergyman to-day who has devoted his time to the dead
languages you need not be afraid that he is a heretic; but if he is
studying the sciences, arts, literature, and history of the living world
in earnest you can get your fagot ready. His orthodoxy is a dead doxy.
It is only a question of time and bravery when he will swear off.*****

     * See Appendix G, 1-4.

     ** See Appendix U.

     ***  See Clifford's "Scientific Basis of Morals," p. 25

     **** See Morley's "Diderot," p. 190.

     ***** See Ibid, p. 126.

In the Church schools and "universities" to-day it is quite pathetic
to hear the professors wrestle with geology and Genesis, and cut
their astronomy to fit Joshua. If in one of these institutions for the
petrifaction of the human mind there is a teacher who is either not
nimble enough to escape the conclusions of a bright pupil or too honest
to try, he is at once found to be "incompetent as an instructor," and is
dropped from the faculty. I know one case where it took twenty years to
discover that a professor was not able to teach geology--and it took a
heresy-hunter with a Bible to do it then.

But it is the claim of the Church in regard to the education of women
with which I have to do here.

Women in Greece and Rome under Pagan rule had become learned and
influential to an unparalleled degree.*

The early Fathers of the Church found women thirsty for knowledge and
eager for opportunities to learn. They thereupon set about making it
disreputable for a woman to know anything,** and in order to clinch
their prohibition the Church asserted that woman was unable to learn,
had not the mental capacity,*** was created without mental power and for
purely physical purposes.

     * See Lecky, Milman, Diderot, Morley, Christian, and others.

     ** "In the fourth century we find that holy men in council
     gravely argued the question, and that too with abundant
     confidence in their ability and power to decide the whole
     matter: 'Ought women to be called human beings?' A wise
     and pious father in the Church, after deliberating solemnly
     and long on the vexed question of women, finally concluded:
     'The female sex is not a fault in itself, but a fact in
     nature for which women themselves are not to blame;' but he
     graciously cherished the opinion that women will be
     permitted to rise as men, at the resurrection. A few
     centuries later the masculine mind underwent great agitation
     over the question: 'Would it be consistent with the duties
     and uses of women for them to learn the alphabet?' And in
     America, after Bridget Gaffort had donated the first plot of
     ground for a public school, girls were still denied the
     advantages of such schools. The questions--'Shall women be
     allowed to enter colleges?' and 'Shall they be admitted
     into the professions?' have been as hotly contested as has
     been the question of their humanity."

     *** "There existed at the same time in this celebrated city a
     class of women, the glory of whose intellectual brilliancy
     still survives; and when Alcibiades drew around him the
     first philosophers and statesmen of Greece, 'it was a virtue
     to applaud Aspasia;' of whom it has been said that she
     lectured publicly on rhetoric and philosophy with such
     ability that Socrates and Alcibiades gathered wisdom from
     her lips, and so marked was her genius for statesmanship
     that Pericles afterward married her and allowed her to
     govern Athens, then at the height of its glory and power.
     Numerous examples might be cited in which Athenian women
     rendered material aid to the state."

It was maintained that her "sphere" was clearly defined, and that it
was purely and solely an animal one; and worst of all it was stoutly
asserted that her greatest crime had always been a desire for wisdom,
and that it was this desire which brought the penalty of labor and death
into this world.*

With such a belief it is hardly strange that the education of girls was
looked upon as a crime; and with such a record it is almost incredible
effrontery that enables the Church to-day to claim credit for the
education of women,** If she were to educate every woman living, free
of charge, in every branch of known knowledge, she could not repay woman
for what she has deprived her of in the past, or efface the indignity
she has already offered.***

     * See Morley's "Diderot," p. 76; Lea's "Sacerdotal
     Celibacy;" Lecky's "European Morals."

     ** See Appendix H, 1 to 4.

     *** Lecky, "European Morals," p. 310.

A prominent clergyman of the Church of England, who was recently much
honored in this country, lately said, in a sermon to women: "There are
those who think a woman can be taught logic. This is a mistake. Men are
logical, women are not." He was too modest to give his proofs. It seemed
to me strange that he did not mention the doctrines of the trinity and
vicarious atonement, or a few of the miracles, as the result of logic in
the masculine mind. And I could not help thinking at the time that a man
whose mental furniture was chiefly composed of the thirty-nine articles
and the Westminster Catechism would naturally be a profound authority on
logic. An orthodox preacher talking about logic is a sight to arouse the
compassion of a demon. Next to the natural sciences, logic can give the
Church the colic quicker than any other kind of a green apple. And so it
is not strange that the clergy should be afraid that it would disagree
with the more delicate constitution of a woman. They always did maintain
that any diet that was a trifle too heavy for them couldn't be digested
by anybody else; and they would be perfectly right in their supposition
if intellectual dyspepsia or softening of the brain were contagious.

The "sphere" of no other creature is wholly determined and bounded by
_one physical_ characteristic or capacity. To every other creature is
conceded without question the right to use more than one talent.

But the Fathers decided in holy and solemn council that it would be
"unbecoming" for a woman to learn the alphabet, and that she could have
no possible use for such information. They said that she would be a
better mother without distracting her dear little brain with the
a, b, c's, and that therefore she should not learn them. They also
decided that she who was so far lost to modesty as to become acquainted
with the multiplication table "was an unfit associate for our wives and
mothers." There was something wrong with such a woman. She was either a
"witch" or else she was "married to the devil."

That is the way the Church encouraged education for women. This
was done, the holy Fathers said, to "protect women from the awful
temptations of life to which the Lord in his infinite wisdom had
subjected man." They had too much respect for their wives and mothers to
permit them to come in contact with the wickedness of long division
or cube root, and they hoped while life lasted that no man would be
so negligent of duty as to allow his sister to soil her pure mind with
conic sections.

Well, in time there were a few women brave enough, and a few men
honorable and moral enough, to set aside the letter of this prohibition;
but much of its spirit still blossoms in all its splendor in Columbia,
Harvard, Yale, and various other institutions of learning, where women
are either not permitted to enter at all or are required to learn and
accomplish unaided that which it takes a large faculty of instructors
and every known or obtainable educational device (together with future
business stimulus) to enable the young men to do the same thing!

The Fathers said, in effect, "It was through woman wanting to know
something that sin came into this world; therefore let her hereafter
want to know nothing." They taught that a desire for knowledge on the
part of woman was the greatest crime ever committed on this earth, and
that it so enraged God that he punished it by death and by every curse
known to man. When it was pointed out that animals had lived and _died_
on this earth long before man could have lived, they said that God
knew Adam was going to live and Eve was going to sin, so he _made death
retroactive_ because Adam would represent all animals when he should be

All this was thought and done and taught in order to agree with the
silly story of the "fall of man in the Garden of Eden," which every one
acquainted with the simple rudiments of science or the history of the
races knows to be a childish legend of an undeveloped people. Instead of
a "fall" from perfect beginnings, there has been and is a constant rise
in the moral as well as in the mental and physical conditions of man.
The type is higher, the race nobler and nearer perfection than it ever
was before; and the stories of our Bible are the same as those of
all other Bibles, simply the effort of ignorant or imaginative men
to account for the origin and destiny of things of which they had no
accurate knowledge.*

     * One of the simplest and most interesting explanations of
     this latter point will be found in "The Childhood of
     Religions," by Edward Clodd, F.R.A.S., where the Christian
     reader may be surprised to find that the "ten-commandment"
     idea (with a number of them which apply to general morals,
     as "Thou shalt not kill," etc.) is not confined to our
     Bible, but is found also in the Buddhist Bible in the same
     form; that the "golden rule" was given by Confucius 500
     years before Christ; and that Christianity, when taken as it
     should be with the other great religions and examined in the
     same way, presents no problem, no claim, and no proofs which
     are not found in equal strength in one or more of the other
     forms of faith. In the matters of morality, miracles, and
     power to attract and "comfort" multitudes of people, it
     ranks neither first nor last. It is simply one of several,
     and in no essential matter is it different from them.

St. Paul said, "If they [women] will learn _anything_, let them ask
their husbands at home;" and the colossal ignorance of most women would
seem to indicate that they have obeyed the command to the letter. But
fortunately for women the civilization of freedom has outgrown St.
Paul as it has the dictates of the Church, and one by one the doors of
information, _and hence the doors to honest labor_, have been opened,
and the possibility of living with dignity and honor has replaced the
forced degradation of the days when the power of the Church enabled it
to reduce women to the animal existence it so long forced upon her.

So long as the Church allowed woman but one avenue of support, so long
did it force her to use that single means of livelihood. So long as it
made her believe that she could bring to this world nothing of value but
her capacity to minister to the lower animal wants of man, so long did
it force upon her that single alternative--or starvation.

So long as it is able to make multitudes of women believe themselves of
value for but one purpose, just that long will it continue to insure the
degradation of many of those women who are helpless, or weak, or loving,
or ignorant of the motives of those in whose power they are. So long
as it teaches woman that she can repay her debt to the world in but one
way, so long will it promote commerce in vice and revenue in shame.

Every man is taught that he can repay his debt to this world in many
ways. He has open to him many avenues of happiness, many paths to
honorable employment. If he fails in one there is still hope. If he
misses supreme happiness in marriage he has still left ambition, labor,
study, fame; if the one failure overtakes him, no matter how sad, he
still can turn aside and find, if not joy, at least occupation and rest.

But the Church has always taught woman that there is but one "sphere,"
one hope, one occupation, one life for her. If she fails in that, what
wonder that with broken hope comes broken virtue or despair? Every woman
who has fallen or lost her way has been previously taught by the Church
that she had and has but one resource; that there is open to her in life
but one path; that whether that path be legally crooked or straight,
she was created for but one purpose; that _man is to decide for her what
that purpose is; and that she must under no circumstances set her own
judgment up against his_.

The legitimate fruits of such an education are too horribly apparent
to need explanation. Every fallen woman is a perpetual monument to the
infamy of a religion and a social custom that narrow her life to the
possibilities of but one function, and provide her no escape--a system
that trains her to depend wholly on one physical characteristic of her
being, and to neglect all else.

That system teaches her that her mind is to be of but slight use to her;
that her hands may not learn the cunning of a trade nor her brain
the bearings of a profession; that mentally she is nothing; and that
physically she is worse than nothing only in so far as she may minister
to one appetite. I hold that the most legitimate outcome of such an
education is to be found in the class that makes merchandise of all that
woman is taught that she possesses that is of worth to herself or to
this world. No system could be more perfectly devised to accomplish this

      * See Lea's "Sacerdotal Celibacy."


We are told that women owe honorable marriage to Christianity;* that the
more beautiful and tender relations of husband and wife find their root
there; that Christianity protects and elevates the mother as no other
law or religion ever has. Let us see.

     * See Appendix I, 1-2.

On this subject I find in Maine's "Ancient Law" these facts:

     "Although women had been objects of barter and sale,
     according to barbaric usages, between their male relatives,
     the later Roman [Pagan] law having assumed, _on the theory
     of Natural Law, the equality of the sexes_, control of the
     _person_ of women was quite obsolete when Christianity was
     born. Her situation had become one of great personal liberty
     and proprietary independence, even when married, and the
     arbitrary power over her of her male relations, or her
     guardian, was reduced to a nullity, while the form of
     _marriage conferred on the husband no superiority_."

     Thus as a daughter and as a wife had she grown to be honored
     and recognized as an equal under Pagan rule.

     "_But Christianity tended from the first to narrow this
     remarkable liberty...._ The latest Roman [Pagan] law, _so
     far as touched by the constitutions of the Christian
     emperors, bears marks of reaction against these great
     liberal doctrines._"

     And again began the sale of women. Christianity held her as
     unclean and in all respects inferior; and "during the era
     which begins modern history the women of dominant races are
     seen everywhere under various forms of archaic guardianship,
     and _the husband pays a money price to her male relations
     for her_. The prevalent state of _religious_ sentiment may
     explain why it is that _modern_ jurisprudence has absorbed
     among its rudiments _much more than usual of those rules_
     [archaic] _concerning the position of women which belong
     peculiarly to an imperfect civilization._"

Thus it will be seen that from the first, and extending down to the
present, the Church did all she could to cast woman back into the night
of the race from which in a great measure she had been rescued through
the ages when Natural Law and not "revelation" was the guide of man. The
laws which the Church found liberal and just toward women it discarded,
and it searched back in the ages of night for such as it saw fit to
re-enact for her. Of this Maine says: "The husband now draws to himself
the power which formerly belonged to his wife's male relatives, the only
difference being that he no longer pays anything for the privilege."

As Christians grew economical wives came cheaper than formerly, and it
became a dogma that wives were not worth much anyhow, and then, too,
it enabled persons of limited means to have more of them. Of a somewhat
later date Maine says: "_At this point heavy disabilities begin to be
imposed upon wives_."

That was to make marriage honorable and attractive, no doubt, and, says
Maine: "_It was very long before the subordination entailed on women by
marriage was sensibly diminished." And what diminution it received came
from men who fought against Church law_.*

     *See Lecky, Maine, Lea, Milman, Christian, Blackstone,
     Morley, and others for ample proof of this fact

It was only the crumbs of liberty, honor, and justice extorted by men
who fought the Church on behalf of wives, that lightened their most
oppressive burdens. It was true then, and it is true to-day, that women
owe what justice and freedom and power they possess to the fact that the
best and clearest-headed men are more honorable than our religion, and
that they have invited Moses and St. Paul to take a back seat Moses has
complied, and St. Paul is half-way down the aisle.

Some of the clergy now explain that although Paul may have written
certain things inimical to women, he did not _mean_ them, so it is all
right. Such passages as 1 Cor. xi. 3-9; xiv. 34-35; and Eph. v. 22-24,
are now explained to be intended in a purely Pickwickian sense; and
a Rev. Mr. Boyd, of St. Louis, has even gone so far as to produce the
doughty apostle before a woman-suffrage society, as on their side of
that argument. This second conversion of St. Paul impresses one as even
more remarkable than his first. It took an "angel of God" to show him
the error of his ways in Ephesus, but one little Baptist preacher did it
this time--all by himself. Truly St. Paul is getting easier to deal with
than he used to be.

But to resume, Maine, in tracing the amalgamation of the later Roman
(Pagan) law with the archaic laws of a lower civilization (the result
of which was Christian law), shows that the Church, while it chose the
Roman laws, which had arrived at so high a state, for others, _retained
for women, and particularly for wives, the least favorable_ of the
Roman, eked out with the archaic _Patria Potestas_ and the more
degrading provisions of the earlier civilizations. Maine reluctantly
says that the jurisconsults of the day contended for better laws for
wives, but that the Church prevailed in most instances, and established
the more oppressive ones.

With certain of these laws--the worst ones--I cannot deal here for
obvious reasons; but a few of them I may be permitted to give without
offence to the modesty of any one.

Blackstone says: "By marriage the husband and wife are one person
in law; that is, the very being or legal _existence of the woman
is suspended_ during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and
consolidated into that of the husband. The husband becomes her _baron or
lord_--she his _servant_. Upon this principle of the union of person
in husband and wife depend almost all the legal rights, duties, and
disabilities they acquire by marriage."

That is to say the husband acquires all the rights, and the wife all the
disabilities; and the Church wishing to be fair has made the latter as
many as possible.

"And therefore," continues Blackstone, "it is also generally true, that
all compacts made between husband and wife, _when single, are voided
by the intermarriage_." The working of this principle has been so often
illustrated as to render comment unnecessary. A wife retains no rights
which her husband is bound to respect, no matter how solemn the compact
before marriage, nor what her belief in its strength might have been.

Fortunately for women, happily for wives, men are more decent than their
religion; and the law of custom and public opinion has largely outgrown
this enactment of the Church, made when she had the power to thus
degrade women and brutalize men.

"If the wife be injured in _her person or her property she can bring
no action for redress_ without her husband's concurrence _and in his
name_," and on the basis of loss of _her services_ to him _as a servant.
"But in criminal prosecutions, it is true, the wife may be indicted and
punished separately_." *

     * Blackstone.

In the case of punishment the Church was entirely willing to give the
devil his due. It had no ambition to deprive women of any indictments
and punishments that were to be had. In this case, although the husband
and wife were one, she was that one. Where privileges or property-rights
were to be considered, he was the "one." Such grand reversible doctrines
were always on tap with the clergy, and their barrel was always full.
Truly, wives do owe much to the Church.

Some of the provisions of these laws have, of late years, been modified
by the efforts of men who were pronounced "infidels, destroyers of the
Bible, the home, and the dignity of women," aided by women whom the
orthodox deride as "strong--minded, ill-balanced, coarse, impious,"
etc., etc., _ad infinitum, ad nauseam_. A strong mind, whether in man or
woman, has always been to the clergy as a red rag to a bull.

"A woman may make a will, _with the assent of her husband_, by way
of appointment of her _personal_ property. _She cannot even with his
consent devise lands_.... Although our law in general considers a man
and wife as one person, yet there are _some instances where she is
considered separately as his inferior_," and for that trip only.

As I remarked before when it comes to penalties she is welcome to the
whole lot.

"She may not make a deed."

"A man may administer moderate correction to his wife."

"These are the chief legal effects of marriage. Even the disabilities of
the wife," Blackstone naively remarks, "are for the most part _intended
for her protection; so great a favorite is the female sex of the laws of

I should think that if this latter point were not quite clear to a
woman, "moderate correction" might convince her that she was quite an
unreasonable favorite--beyond her most eager desires. Where the Pagan
law recognized her as the equal of her husband, the Church discarded
that law, and based the Canon Law upon an archaic invention.

Where Maine speaks of the later growth of Pagan law and of Christian
influence upon it, he says: "But the chapter of law relating to married
women was for the most part read by the light, not of Roman [or Pagan]
but of Canon [or Church] Law, _which in no one particular departs so
widely from the [improved] spirit of the secular jurisprudence as in the
view it takes of the relations created by marriage_. This was in part
inevitable, _since no society which possesses any tincture of Christian
institutions is likely to restore to married women the personal liberty
conferred on them by the middle Roman law_."

Women who support the clergy with one hand, and hold out the other for
the ballot; who one day express indignation at the refusal to them of
human recognition, and the next day intone the creeds, will have to
learn that there is nothing which has so successfully stood, and still
so powerfully stands, in the way of the individual liberty, human
rights, and dignity of wives, as the Church which they support.

Blackstone says: "In times of popery a great _variety_ of impediments
to marriage were made, which impediments might, however, be _bought off
with money_."

You could, for instance, buy a more distant relationship to your future
wife for so much cash down to the Church. If your inamorata were your
first cousin, you could remove her several degrees with five hundred
dollars, and make her no relation at all for a little more. Such little
sleight-of-hand performances are as nothing to a well-trained clergyman.
Slip a check into one hand, and a request to marry your aunt into the
other, let a clergyman shake them up in the coffers of the Church, and
when one comes out gold, the other will appear as a blushing bride
not even related to her own father, and not more than third cousin to

Of the claim made by the early Christian Fathers, that it was because of
the mental inferiority and incapacity of women that the more unjust and
binding laws were enacted for them, thus doing all they could to create
and intensify by law the incapacity which they asserted was imposed by
God, Maine says: "But the proprietary disabilities of married females
_stand on quite a different basis from personal incapacity_, and it is
by the tendency of their doctrines to keep alive and consolidate the
former, that the expositors of the _Canon Law have deeply injured

He adds that there are many evidences of a struggle between _secular
principles in favor of justice for wives_, and _ecclesiastical
principles against it_, "but the Canon Law nearly everywhere prevailed.
The systems which are _least indulgent_ to married women are invariably
those which have followed the _Canon Law exclusively_.... It enforced
the complete legal subjection of wives."

Lecky says: "Fierce invectives against the sex form a conspicuous and
grotesque portion of the writings of the Fathers. Woman was represented
as the door of hell, as the mother of all human ills. She should be
ashamed at the very thought that she is a woman.... Women were even
forbidden, in the sixth century, on account of their impurity, to
receive the Eucharist into their naked hands. Their essentially
subordinate position was continually maintained. This teaching in part
determined the principles of legislation concerning the sex.* The
Pagan laws during the empire had been continually _repealing the old
disabilities_ of women, and the legislative movement in their favor
continued with unabated force from Constantine to Justinian, and
appeared also in some of the early laws of the barbarians. _But in the
whole feudal [Christian] legislation women were placed in a much lower
legal position than in the Pagan empire_."

     * See Appendix J.

And he adds that the French revolutionists (the infidel party)
established better laws for women, "and initiated a great reformation of
both law and opinion, _which sooner or later must traverse the world_."
And these reformations, being in Christendom, will be calmly claimed in
the future, as in the present, as due to the beneficent influence of the
Church. The Church always belongs to the conservative party, but after a
good thing is established in despite of her, she says: "Just see what I
have done! 'See what a good boy am I!"'

Not many years ago a few great-souled men who were "heretics" got a
glimpse of a principle which has electrified the world. They said that
individual liberty is a universal right; they maintained that humanity
is a unit, with interests and aims indivisible, and that liberty to use
to the utmost advantage all natural abilities cannot be denied one-half
of the race without crippling both. A few even went so far as to suggest
that the assumption of the inferiority of women, and the imposition
of disabilities upon them, under the claim of divine authority, is the
greatest crime in the great calendar of crime for which the Church has
yet to render a reckoning to humanity.

To one who reads the history of Canon Law, it is not strange that
Christian Judges still decide that women are "incompetent to practice
law," and that they should not be allowed to study it. A woman well
versed in the history of ancient and modern law might easily be an
uncomfortable advocate for such a judge to face. He would probably feel
the need of an umbrella.

It is not strange that Columbia College, with its corps of clergymen,
"fails to see the propriety" of opening its doors to women. The few
clergymen who have for some little time past taken the side of fair-play
in this and like matters have simply deserted their colors and come over
to the side they are worldly-wise enough to see is to be the side of the
future. When it comes to diplomacy the Church is always on deck in
time to gather in the spoils; but she stays safely below during the
engagement, and simply holds back and anchors firm until she sees which
way it is likely to end.

The moment there is an understanding on the part of women of what they
owe to Church Law, that moment will educational clerical monopolists,
such as the champion anchor of Columbia, be compelled to earn an honest
living in some honest business pertaining to this world. It will be a
great day for women when they refuse to longer support these pretenders
to divine knowledge, who are willing, at so much a head, to tell what
they do not know at the expense of the pale, tired needlewoman, who
is in want of almost every comfort that money can buy in this world,
together with the surplus gold of the fashionable devotees who minister
to the vanity of the clergy, and give to the coffers of the Church that
which would save thousands of young girls from degradation and crime,
and put the roses of health on the cheek of innocence.

Every dollar that is paid to support the Church is paid to degrade a
woman. Every collection that is made to spread "revelation" is used to
suppress enlightenment and retard civilization. Every dollar that is
invested in "another world" is a dollar diverted from useful purposes in
this. Every hour that is spent mooning about "heaven" is that much time
taken from needed labor here.

If our energies were wanted in another world we should most likely be in
another world. Since we are in this one it is a pretty strong hint that
we are expected to attend to business right here. We can't do justice to
two worlds at the same time; and since we are assured that we shall have
the whole of eternity to arrange matters in the next one, it leaves very
little time by comparison to devote to our duties in this.

There we are to have nothing to do but sing and be happy--twang a harp
and smile.

Here we have pain to alleviate, ignorance to dispel, innocence to
protect, disease to master, and crime to restrain and prevent. Here we
have the helpless to shield and guard and protect. Here we have homes to
make happy, the hearts of husbands and wives to make glad, the light
of love and trust to kindle in the eyes of children. Here is old age to
cheer and console. Here are orphans to educate and protect, widows to
comfort, and oppression to uproot.

There--nothing to do but look after yourself and manage your harp;
nobody to help--all will be perfect; nothing to learn--all will be wise;
no hearts to cheer--all will be happy. All that a mother will have to do
if she gets a little tired practicing on her lyre and feels gloomy will
be to just take a good look over the wall, and photograph on her eyes
the picture of her husband and children freshly dipped in oil and put
on the griddle, and she will come back to business perfectly satisfied,
take up her song where she left off, and praise the Lamb for his
infinite mercy. All eternity to learn how to fly round in a robe and
keep time with the orchestra! Why a deaf man could learn to do that in
fifty or sixty years, and then have all the rest of the time to spare.

We are here such a little while, there is so much to learn, there is so
much to do, there is so much to _undo_, that no man can afford to waste
his time on an infinite future of time, space, and leisure. Men cannot
afford to lose your best energies. "God" can get on very well without
them. Time is short, and needs are pressing; and this thing you
know--you can keep busy doing good right here. If there is a hereafter,
could there be a better preparation for it than that?


After all that has preceded this page I need hardly do more with this
count of the last claim of "Theological Fiction" than simply say, if the
Bible is woman's best friend, then the clergy, without authority and in
violation of the precepts of their own guide, have been her worst enemy,
either through malice or ignorance; in either of which cases they are
and have always been unfit to dictate, to lead opinion, or to receive a
following as reliable guides for this world or the next.

If they have been so ignorant or so malicious for nearly nineteen
hundred years as to thus systematically misconstrue their own
authority--their own "revelation"--to the constant disadvantage of women
(and the consequent enfeeblement of the race), surely they can claim no
respect for their opinions and no confidence in their divine calling.*
In trying to shield the Bible the clergy simply convict themselves.**

     * See Appendix K.

     ** See Appendix L.

But I incline to the opinion that in the main this view of the case
is unfair to the clergy, and that they have followed, in spirit if not
literally, the dictates of the Bible as a whole. It is undoubtedly true
that the Bible throughout holds woman as an inferior in both mental and
moral characteristics; and upon this understanding of it the Fathers
built the Church and crystallized the laws.

The Fathers of the Church were as a rule a bad lot themselves. All
contemporaneous history and all internal evidence prove this fact: and
when we remember that the "Prophets" were almost to a man polygamists;
that their belief and practices in this regard were of the order and
type of Mormondom to-day, _and for the same reasons_; that they were
slave-holders and slave-stealers; that they believed in a God of
infinite cruelty and revenge--of arbitrary will and reasonless
barbarity; and that they were licentious and brutal beyond description;
it will be easy to understand the position which such men--with these
beliefs, practices, mentality, and moral degradation--would accord to
women. Every Bible of every people; every history of every race showing
like civilization, will show you like results.*

     *See Appendix M.

In the New Testament we find an effort to readjust old clothes to a new
body, some of whose members had grown better and some worse in dogma and
belief. Where women are _especially_ dealt with we find them commanded
to "be under obedience," and always to subject their wills to the ways
and wills of men; while the general tone and treatment are always based
upon the assumption that she is an inferior, a secondary creation, and a
subject class.*

That this is the understanding of the Bible always recognized by the
Church (and to-day questioned by only a very small minority who are
shrewd enough to see the necessity of revamping it to fit the new public
morality and civilization), all history attests; but the vehemence
with which the doctrine has been asserted the foregoing pages can only
faintly indicate. **

But certainly, if for thousands of years the clergy have, as a body,
misconstrued or misunderstood the spirit of their own book (to which
they have always claimed to possess the only key), they should not blame
those who to-day take issue with them upon their information, their
dictates, their _basis of morality_, or their interpretations of the
rights of humanity.

If, as they claim to-day, the Bible is the friend of women and no
respecter of persons, a conclusion which it took them hundreds of years
to reach, it has taken them too long to discover the fact for their
guidance to be either a desirable or a safe one for humanity; and the
millions of women they have degraded and oppressed in the past are
certainly not an argument in favor of their infallibility now. ***

     * See Appendix N.

     ** See Appendix O.

     *** See Appendix P.

Let them give way to men who, claiming no right to divine authority or
superhuman wisdom, speak in the interest of all humanity the best they
know (always acknowledged to be subject to revision for the better); who
are not bound back and retarded by the outgrown toggery of the Jewish
civilization of David and his time or the Christian dictatorship of
Paul.* Acknowledging themselves as false and oppressive interpreters
of divine law for centuries past is but a poor recommendation of their
ability or integrity for the future.

     * See Appendix Q.

Whichever horn of the dilemma they accept, there is but one honorable
course for the clergy to pursue, and that is to resign in favor of those
who have all along been on the right track, without a pretence of divine
guidance; who in despite of faith and fagot have made progress possible.


     * See Appendices T and V.

After my lecture on Men, Women, and Gods, in Chicago, I was asked how it
would be possible to train children to be good without a belief in the
divinity of the Bible; how they could be made to know it is wrong to be
and steal and kill.

The belief that the Bible is the originator of these and like moral
ideas, or that Christ was their first teacher, is far from the truth;
and it is only another evidence of the duplicity or ignorance of
the Church that such a belief obtains or that such a falsehood is
systematically taught.

It is too easily forgotten that morals are universal, that Christianity
is local. Practical moral ideas grow up very early, and develop with the
development of a race. They are the response to the needs of a
people, and when formulated have in several cases taken the shape of
"commandments" from some unseen power. These necessary practical laws
are by degrees attached to those of imaginary value, and all alike
are held in esteem as of equal moral worth. By this means a ficticious
standard of right and wrong becomes established, and a weakening of
confidence in the valueless part results in damage to that portion which
was originally the result of wise and necessary legislation.*

When children (of whatever age) do this or that "because God said so,"
the precepts taught on this basis, even though they are good, will have
no hold upon the man who discovers that their origin was purely human.
It is a dangerous experiment, and depends wholly upon ignorance for
its success. A firm basis of reason in this world is the only solid
foundation of moral training.

My Chicago questioner proceeded upon the hypothesis that what of
valuable morals are contained in the Bible were a "revelation" to one
people, and that their value was dependent upon this origin. For the
benefit of those who have been similarly** imposed upon, I will cite a
few facts in as short space as possible.

     * "Durable morality had been associated with a transitory
     religious faith. The faith fell into intellectual discredit,
     and sexual morality shared its decline for a short season.
     This must always be the natural consequence of building
     sound ethics on the shifting sands and rotting foundations
     of theology. It is one of those enormous drawbacks that
     people seldom take into account when they are enumerating
     the blessings of superstition."
     --Morley's "Diderot," p. 71.

     ** Professor Max Muller says that "the consciousness of sin
     is a leading feature in the religion of the Veda, so is
     likewise the belief that the gods are able to take away from
     man the heavy burden of his sins."

Brahmanism, with its two hundred millions of believers, and its Rig-Veda
(Bible) composed two thousand four hundred years before Christ, has its
rigid code of morals; its theory of creation; its teachings about sin;
its revelations; its belief in the ability of the gods to forgive;** its
belief that its bible came from God; and its devotees who believe
that an infinite God is pleased with the toys of worship, praise,
and adulation of man. It has its prayers and hymns, its offerings and
sacrifices. Corresponding with our "Trinity" idea the Brahmin has his
three great gods; and in place of our "angels" he has his infinite
number of little ones.*

Next, Zoroastrianism, certainly twelve hundred years older than Christ,
has its legends (quite as authentic as our own) of miracles performed
by its founder and his followers; its Zend-Avesta (Bible); its "Supreme
Spirit;" its belief in gods and demons who interfere with affairs in
this world and who are ever at war with each other; its sacred fires;
its Lord; its praise; and its pretence to direct communication _in the
past_ with spirits and with gods who gave their Prophet "commandments."**
It lacks none of the paraphernalia of a "divine institution" ready
for business, and we are unable to discount it in either loaves or
fishes. It also has its heaven and hell;*** its Messiah or Prophet; its
arch fiend or devil; its rites and ceremonies.

     * See Edward Clodd, F.R.A.S., "Childhood of Religions."

     ** "In the Gathas or oldest part of the Zend-Avesta, which
     contains the leading doctrines of Zoroaster, he asks Ormuzd
     [God] for truth and guidance, and desires to know what he
     shall do. He is told to be pure in thought, word, and deed;
     to be temperate, chaste, and truthful; to offer prayer to
     Ormuzd and the powers that fight with him; to destroy all
     hurtful things; and to do all that will increase the well-
     being of mankind. Men were not to cringe before the powers
     of darkness as slaves crouch before a tyrant, they were to
     meet them upstanding, and confound them by unending
     opposition and the power of a holy life. 'Oh men, if you
     cling to these commandments which Mazda has given, which are
     a torment to the wicked and a blessing to the righteous,
     then there will be victory through them.'"
     --Max Muller.

     *** "In this old faith there was a belief in two abodes for
     the departed: heaven, the 'house of the angels' hymns,' and
     hell, where the wicked were sent.   Between the two there
     was a bridge."

Professor Max Muller remarks: "There were periods in the history of the
world when the worship of Ormuzd threatened to rise triumphant on the
ruins of the temples of all other gods. If the battles of Marathon and
Salamis had been lost and Greece had succumbed to Persia, the state
religion of the empire of Cyrus, which was the worship of Ormuzd, might
have become the religion of the whole civilized world."

In which case my Chicago friend would have asked, "If you destroy a
belief in Ormuzd, and that he gave the only supernatural moral law to
Zoroaster, how will children ever be taught what is right and what is
wrong, and how can they ever know that it is not right to lie and kill
and steal?"

"Their creed is of the simplest kind; it is to fear God, to live a life
of pure thoughts, pure words, pure deeds, and to die in the hope of a
world to come. _It is the creed of those who have lived nearest to God
and served him faithfullest in every age_, and wherever they dwell who
accept it and practice it, they bear witness to that which makes them
children of God and brethren of the prophets, among whom Zoroaster was
not the least. The Jews were carried away as captives to Babylon some
600 years before Christ, and during the seventy years of their exile
there, they came into contact with the Persian religion _and derived
from it ideas about the immortality of the soul, which their own
religion did not contain. They also borrowed from it their belief in a
multitude of angels, and in Satan as the ruler over evil spirits_." [So
you see that even our devil is a borrowed one, and it now seems to
be about time to return him with thanks. ] "The ease with which man
believes in unearthly powers working for his hurt prepares a people to
admit into its creed the doctrine of evil spirits, and although it
is certain that the Jews had no belief in such spirits before their
captivity in Babylon, they spoke of Satan (which means _an adversary_)
as a messenger sent from God to watch the deeds of men and accuse them
to Him for their wrong-doing. Satan thus becoming by degrees an object
of dread, upon whom all the evil which befell man was charged, the minds
of the Jews were ripe for accepting the Persian doctrine of Ahriman with
his legions of devils. Ahriman became the Jewish Satan, _a belief in
whom formed part of early Christian doctrine, and is now but slowly
dying out. What fearful ills it has caused, history has many a page to
tell_. The doctrine that Satan, once an angel of light, had been cast
from heaven for rebellion against God, and had ever since played havoc
among mankind, gave rise to the belief that he and his demons could
possess the souls of men and animals at pleasure. Hence grew the belief
in wizards and witches, under which millions of creatures, both young
and old, were cruelly tortured and put to death. We turn over the
smeared pages of this history in haste, thankful that from such a
nightmare the world has wakened." *

The world has awakened, but the Church still snores on, confident and
happy in the belief that she has a devil all her own, and that he is
attending strictly to business.

Next we have Buddhism, _which numbers more followers than any other
faith_. It is five hundred years older than Christianity. It has its
prophet or Messiah who was exposed to a tempter,** and overcame all
evil; its fastings and prayers; its miracles and its visions. Of
Buddha's teachings Prof. Max Muller tells us that he used to say,
"Nothing on earth is stable, nothing is real. Life is as transitory as
a spark of fire, or the sound of a lyre. There must be some supreme
intelligence where we could find rest. If I attained it I could bring
light to men. If I were free myself I could deliver the world."

     *Clodd, F.R.A.S.

     ** "Afterward the tempter sent his three daughters, one a
     winning girl, one a blooming virgin, and one a middle-aged
     beauty, to allure him, but they could not. Buddha was proof
     against all the demon's arts, and his only trouble was
     whether it were well or not to preach his doctrines to men.
     Feeling how hard to gain was that which he had gained, and
     how enslaved men were by their passions so that they might
     neither listen to him nor understand him, he had well-nigh
     resolved to be silent, but, at the last, deep compassion for
     all beings made him resolve to tell his secret to mankind,
     that they too might be free, and he thus became the founder
     of _the most popular religion of ancient or modern times_.
     The spot where Buddha obtained his knowledge became one of
     the most sacred places in India."

Buddha, like Christ, wrote nothing, and the doctrines of the new
religion were fixed and written by his disciples after his death.
Councils were held afterwards to correct errors and send out
missionaries. You will see, therefore, that even "revisions" are not a
product of Christianity, and that "revelations" have always been subject
to reform to fit the times.*

     * "Two other councils were afterward held for the correction
     of errors that had crept into the faith, and for sending
     missionaries into other lands. The last of these councils is
     said to have been held 251 years before Christ, so that long
     before Christianity was founded we have this great religion
     with its sacred traditions of Buddha's words, its councils
     and its missions, besides, as we shall presently see, many
     things strangely like the rites of the Roman Catholic

I will here give a few of the wise or kind or moral commands of Buddha.
If the first were followed in Christian countries we should be a more
moral and a less superstitious people than we are to-day.

"Buddha said: '_The succoring of mother and father, the cherishing
of child and wife, and the following of a lawful calling, this is the
greatest blessing._'

"'The giving alms, a religious life, aid rendered to relations,
blameless acts, this, is the greatest blessing.'

"'The abstaining from sins and the avoiding them, the eschewing of
intoxicating drink, diligence in good deeds, reverence and humility,
contentment and gratefulness, this is the greatest blessing.'

"'Those who having done these things, become invincible on all sides,
attain happiness on all sides. This is the greatest blessing.'

"'He who lives a hundred years, vicious and unrestrained, a life of one
day is better if a man is virtuous and reflecting.'

"'Let no man think lightly of evil, saying in his heart, it will not
come near unto me. Even by the falling of water-drops a water-pot
is filled; the fool becomes full of evil if he gathers it little by

"'Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one's mind, that is
the teaching of the Awakened.' (This is one of the most solemn verses
among the Buddhists).

"'Let us live happily then, not hating those who hate us! Let us dwell
free from hatred among men who hate!'

"After these doctrines there follow ten commandments, of which the
first five apply to all people, and the rest chiefly to such as set
themselves apart for a religious life. They are: not to kill; not to
steal; not to commit adultery; not to lie; not to get drunk; to abstain
from late meals; from public amusements; from expensive dress; from
large beds; and to accept neither gold nor silver." *

Keep in mind that Buddha lived more than 500 years _before_ Christ.

"The success of Buddhism was in this: It was a protest against the
powers of the priests; _it to a large degree broke down caste by
declaring that all men are equal_, and by allowing any one desiring to
live a holy life to become a priest. _It abolished sacrifices_; made
it the _duty of all men to honor their parents and care for their
children_, to be kind to the sick and poor and sorrowing, and to forgive
their enemies and return good for evil; it spread a spirit of charity
abroad which encompassed the lowest life as well as the highest." **

     * Clodd.

     ** Ibid.

With these before him will a Christian suppose that morals are dependent
upon our Bible?

Of Confucianism, believed by millions to be essential to their
salvation, and one of the three state religions of China, Clodd says:
"On the soil of this great country there is crowded nearly half the human
race, the most orderly people on the globe. This man (Confucius), who
was reviled in life, but whose influence sways the hundreds of
millions of China, was born 551 years before Christ. His nature was so
beautifully simple and sincere that _he would not pretend to knowledge
of that which he felt was beyond human reach and thought_."

What an earthquake there would be if our clergymen where only to become
inoculated with that sort of simple sincerity I His disciples and
followers did that for him as has been done in most other cases.

"The sacred books of China are called the _Kings_, and are five in
number, containing _treatises on morals_, books of rites, poems, and
history. They are of great age, perhaps as old as the earliest hymns of
the Rig-Veda, _and are free from any impure thoughts_. [Which is much
more than can be said of our own sacred books, which are not so old.] In
the Book of Poetry are three hundred pieces, but the design of them all
may be embraced in that one sentence, '_Have no depraved thoughts._'

"At the time when Confucius lived, China was divided into a number
of petty kingdoms whose rulers were ever quarrelling, and although he
became engaged in various public situations of trust, the disorder of
the State at last caused him to resign them, and he retired to another
part of the country. He then continued the life of a public teacher,
instructing men in the simple moral truths by which he sought to govern
his own life. The purity of that life, and the example of veneration for
the old laws which he set, gathered round him many grave and thoughtful
men, who worked with him for the common good."

Confucius said among other wise and moral things: "Coarse rice for food,
water to drink, the bended arm for a pillow--happiness may be enjoyed
even with these; but without virtue, both riches and honor seem to me
like the passing cloud.... Our passions shut up the door of our souls
against God."

What we are pleased to call "the golden rule," and to look upon as
purely Christian, he gave in these words 500 years before Christ was
born: "Tsze-kung said, '_What I do not wish men to do to me, I also wish
not to do to men._' The Master said, 'You have not attained to that.'

"Such is the power of words, that those uttered by this intensely
earnest man, whose work was ended only by death, have kept alive
throughout the vast empire of China a reverence for the past _and a
sense of duty to the present which_ have made the Chinese the most
orderly and moral people in the world."

So much for the great religions that are older than our own and _could
not have_ borrowed from us. So much for the moral sentiments of the
peoples who developed them, and who live and die happy with them to-day.
It leaves only a small part of this globe and a comparatively small
number of its inhabitants who believe in and are guided by the Bible, or
by the morality which has grown side-by-side with it.

But there is one other great religion which is of interest to us: *

     * See Appendix R.

"And the value of Islam, the youngest of the great religions, is that
we are able to see how its first simple form became overlaid with legend
and foolish superstition, and thus learn how, in like manner, myth and
fable have grown around more ancient religions [and around our own].

"For example; although Mohammed came into the world like other children,
wonderful things are said to have taken place at his birth.

"He never claimed to be a perfect man; he did not pretend to foretell
events or to work miracles.

"In spite of all this, his followers said of him, while he was yet
living, that he worked wonders, and they believed the golden vision,
hinted at in Koran, to have been a real event, although Mohammed said
over and over again that it was but a dream.

"This religion is the guide in life and the support in death of _one
hundred and fifty millions of our fellow creatures_; like Christianity,
it has its missionaries scattered over the globe, and offers itself as a
faith needed by all men.

"The success of Islam was great. Not one hundred years after the death
of the prophet, it had converted half the then known world, and its
green flag waved from China to Spain. Christianity gave way before it,
and has never regained some of the ground then lost, while at this day
we see Islam making marked progress in Africa and elsewhere. Travelers
tell us that the gain is great when a tribe casts away its idols and
embraces Islam. Filth and drunkenness flee away, and the state of the
people is bettered in a high degree."

"Muslims have not treated Christ as we have treated Mohammed, for the
devout among them never utter his name without adding the touching
words, 'on whom be peace.'"

"Mohammed counseled men to live a good life, and to strive after the
mercy of God by fasting, charity, and prayer, which he called 'the key
of paradise.'"

"He abolished the frightful practice of killing female children, and
made the family tie more respected."

He said: "_A man's true wealth hereafter is the good he has done in this
world to his fellow-men_. When he dies, people will ask, What property
has he left behind him? But the angels will ask, What good deeds has he
sent before him?" [Which is a doctrine wholesome and just, so for as it
applies to this world, and inculcates the right sort of morals.]

"Mohammed commanded his followers to make no image of any living thing,
to show mercy to the weak and orphaned, and kindness to brutes; to
abstain from gambling, and the use of strong drink.

"The great truth which he strove to make real to them was that God is
one, that, as the Koran says, 'they surely are infidels who say that God
is the third of three, for there is no God but one God.'"

He was the great original Unitarian.

"I should add that the wars of Islam did not leave waste and ruin in
their path, but that the Arabs, when they came to Europe, alone held
aloft the light of learning, and in the once famous schools of Spain,
taught 'philosophy, medicine, astronomy, and the golden art of song.'"

We cannot speak so well of the "holy wars" of Christianity.

In speaking of the men who wrote our Bible, Clodd says: "Nor is it easy
to find in what they have said truths which, in one form or another,
have not been stated by the writers of some of the sacred books into
which we have dipped."

I have quoted more fully than had been my intention simply to show the
egotistic ignorance of the Christian's claim to possess a religion or a
Bible which differs, in any material regard, from several others which
are older, and to indicate that moral ideas, precepts, and practices
are the property of no special people, but are the inevitable result
of continued life itself, and the evolution of civilizations however
different in outward form and expression. They are the necessary results
of human companionship and necessities, and not the fruits of any
religion or the "revelation" from on high to any people. As William
Kingdon Clifford, F. R. S., in his work on the "Scientific Basis of
Morals," very justly says:

"There is more than one moral sense, and what I feel to be right another
man may feel to be wrong.

"In just the same way our question about the best conscience will
resolve itself into a question about the purpose or function of the
conscience--why we have got it, and what it is good for.

"Now to my mind the simplest and clearest and most profound philosophy
that was ever written upon this subject is to be found in the 2d and 3d
chapters of Mr. Darwin's 'Descent of Man.' In these chapters it appears
that just as most physical characteristics of organisms have been
evolved and preserved because they were useful to the individual in the
struggle for existence against other individuals and other species, so
this particular feeling has been evolved and preserved because it is
useful to the tribe or community in the struggle for existence against
other tribes, and against the environment as a whole. The function of
conscience is the preservation of the tribe as a tribe. And we shall
rightly train our consciences if we learn to approve these actions which
tend to the advantage of the community.

"The virtue of purity, for example, attains in this way a fairly exact
definition: purity in a man is that course of conduct which makes him
to be a good husband and father, in a woman that which makes her to be a
good wife and mother, or which helps other people so to prepare and
keep themselves. It is easy to see how many false ideas and pernicious
precepts are swept away by even so simple a definition as that."

In urging the necessity of a more substantial basis of morals than one
built upon a theory of arbitrary dictation, he says: "The worship of a
deity who is represented as unfair or unfriendly to any portion of
the community is a wrong thing, however great may be the threats and
promises by which it is commended. And still worse, the reference of
right and wrong to his arbitrary will as a standard, the diversion of
the allegiance of the moral sense from the community to him, is the
most insidious and fatal of social diseases.... If I let myself believe
anything on insufficient evidence, there may be no great harm done by
the mere belief; it may be true after all, or I may never have occasion
to exhibit it in outward acts. _But I cannot help doing this great wrong
toward Man, that I make myself credulous_. The danger to society is not
merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough;
but that it should become credulous, and lose the habit of testing
things and inquiring into them; for then it must sink back into

"The harm which is done by credulity in a man is not confined to the
fostering of a credulous character in others, and consequent support
of false beliefs. Habitual want of care about what I believe leads to
habitual want of care in others about the truth of what is told to me.
Men speak the truth to one another when each reveres the truth in his
own mind and in the other's mind; but how shall my friend revere the
truth in my mind when I myself am careless about it, when I believe
things because I want to believe them, and because they are comforting
and pleasant? Will he not learn to cry, 'Peace,' to me, when there is no
peace? By such a course I shall surround myself with a thick atmosphere
of falsehood and fraud, and in that I must live. It may matter little
to me, in my cloud-castle of sweet illusions and darling lies; but it
matters much to Man that I have made my neighbors ready to deceive. The
credulous man is father to the liar....

"We all suffer severely enough from the maintenance and support of false
beliefs and the fatally wrong actions which they lead to; and the
evil born when one such belief is entertained is great and wide. But
a greater and wider evil arises when the _credulous character_ is
maintained and supported, when a habit of believing for unworthy reasons
is fostered and made permanent....

"The fact that believers have found joy and peace in believing gives
us the right to say that the doctrine is a comfortable doctrine, and
pleasant to the soul; but it does not give us the right to say that it
is true....

"And the question which our conscience is always asking about that which
we are tempted to believe is not, 'Is it comfortable and pleasant?' but,
'Is it true?'"

The sooner moral actions and the necessity of clean, helpful, and
charitable living are put upon a basis more solid and permanent than
theology the better will it be for civilization; and if this chapter
shall, by its light style, attract the attention of those who are too
busy, or are disinclined for any reason whatsoever, to collect from
more profound works the facts here given, I shall be satisfied with the
result, because I shall have done something toward the triumph of fact
over fiction.

We cannot repeat too often nor emphasize too strongly this one simple
fact, that we need all our energy and time to make _this_ world fit
to live in; to make _homes_ where mothers are happy and children are
glad--homes where fathers hasten when their work is done, and are
welcomed with a shout of joy.

                    The toilers who wend up the hillside,
                    The toilers below in the mill
                    Alike are the victims of priestcraft,
                    They "do but the _Master's_ will."

                    The _Master's_ will! ah the cunning,
                    The bitterly cruel device,
                    To wring from the lowly and burdened
                    Submission at any price!

                    Submission to tyrants in Russia--
                    Submission to tyrants in Rome;
                    The throne and the altar have ever
                    Combined to despoil the home,

                    But the home is the heaven to live for,
                    And Love is the God sublime
                    Who paints in tints of glory,
                    Upon the wings of Time

                    This legend, grand and simple,
                    And true as eternal Right--
                    "No Justice e'er came from Jury,
                    Whose verdict was based on might!"

                    As high above earth as is heaven;
                    As high as the stars above
                    The Church, the chapel, the altar;
                    Is the home whose God is Love.



Appendix A.

1. "For a species increases or decreases in numbers, widens or contracts
its habitat, migrates or remains stationary, _continues an old mode
of life or falls into a new one_, under the combined influence of its
intrinsic nature _and the environing_ actions, inorganic and organic.

"Beginning with the extrinsic factors, we see that from the outset
several kinds of them are variously operative. They need but barely
ennumerating. We have climate, hot, cold, or temperate, moist or dry,
constant or variable. We have surface, much or little of which is
available, and the available part of which is fertile in greater or
less degree; and we have configuration of surface, as uniform or
multiform.... _On these sets of conditions, inorganic and organic,
characterizing the environment, primarily depends the possibility of
social evolution_."--Spencer, "Principles of Sociology," vol. 1, p. 10.

2. "These considerations clearly prove that of the _two primary causes
of civilization, the fertility of the soil_ is the one which in the
ancient world exercised most influence. But in European civilization,
_the other great cause_, that is to say, _climate_, has been the most

"Owing to circumstances which I shall presently state, the only progress
which is really effective depends, not upon the bounty of nature, but
upon the _energy of man_. Therefore it is, that the civilization of
Europe, which, in its earliest stage, was governed by _climate_, has
shown a capacity of development unknown to those civilizations which
were originated by _soil_."--Buckle, "History of Civilization," vol. 1,
p. 36--37.*

     * I wish to state here that I had never read the above from
     Buckle, nor had I seen anywhere a statement so like my own,
     at the time mine was written. I read this for the first time
     while reading the proofs of this chapter.   So much for what
     may appear plagiarism.--H. H. Q,

Appendix B.

1. "Napoleon himself was indifferent to Christianity, but he saw that
the clergy were friends of despotism."--Buckle.

2. "Thus it is that a careful survey of history will prove that the
Reformation made the most progress not in those countries where the
people were most enlightened, but in those countries where, from
political causes, the clergy were least able to withstand the

3. "Christian civilization in the twentieth century of its existence,
degrades its women to labor fit only for beasts of the field; harnessing
them with dogs to do the most menial labors; it drags them below even
this, holding their womanhood up to sale, _putting both Church and State
sanction_ upon their moral death; which, in some places, as in the city
of Berlin, so far recognizes the sale of women's bodies for the vilest
purposes _as part of the Christian religion, that license for this life
is refused until they have partaken of the Sacrament_; and demands
of the '10,000 licensed women of the town' of the city of Hamburg,
certificates showing that they regularly attend church and also partake
of the sacrament."--Gage.

Even a lower depth than this is reached in England, France, Italy,
Switzerland, and Germany, and nearly every country of Europe, says the
same writer, "a system of morality which declares 'the necessity' of
woman's degradation, and annually sends tens of thousands down to a
death from which society grants no resurrection."--Gage.

Appendix C.

1. "Sappho flourished b. c. 600, and a little later; and so highly did
Plato value her intellectual, as well as her imaginative endowments,
that he assigned her the honors of sage as well as poet; and familiarly
entitled her the 'tenth muse'"--Buckle,

2. "Wilkinson says among _no_ ancient people had women such influence
and liberty as among the ancient Egyptians."--Buckle.

3. "The Americans have in the treatment of women fallen below, not only
their own democratic principles, but the practice of some parts of the
Old World."--Harriet Martineau.

4. "Mr. F. Newman denies that Christianity has improved the position of
women; and he observes that, 'with Paul, the _sole_ reason for marriage
is, that a man may, without sin, vent his sensual desires. He teaches
that, _but_ for this object, it would be better not to marry;' and he
takes no notice of the _social_ pleasures of marriage. Newman says: 'In
short, only in countries where Germanic sentiment has taken root do we
see marks of any elevation of the female sex superior to that of Pagan

5. "Female voices are never heard in the Russian churches; their
place is supplied by boys; women do not yet stand high enough in the
estimation of the churches.... to be permitted to sing the praises of
God in the presence of men."--Kohl.

6. "Christianity diminished the influence of women."--Neander, "Hist, of
the Church."

Appendix D.

Within the reign of the present sovereign Mrs. Gage tells us of a young
girl being ordered by the Petty Sessions Bench back to the "service" of
a landlord, from whom she had run away because such service meant the
sacrifice of her honor. She refused to go _and was put in jail_.

Appendix E.

1. "Women were taught by the Church and State alike, that the Feudal
Lord or Seigneur had a right to them, not only against themselves, but
as against any claim of husband or father. The law known as _Marchetta_,
or Marquette, compelled newly-married women to a most dishonorable
servitude. They were regarded as the rightful prey of the Feudal Lord
from one to three days after their marriage, and from this custom, the
oldest son of the serf was held as the son of the lord, 'as perchance
it was he who begat him.' From this nefarious degradation of woman, the
custom of Borough-English arose, in which the youngest son became the
heir.... France, Germany, Prussia, England, Scotland, _and all
Christian countries_ where feudalism existed, held to the enforcement of
Marquette. The lord deemed this right as fully his as he did the claim
to half the crops of the land, or to half the wool of the sheep. More
than one reign of terror arose in France from the enforcement of this
law, and the uprisings of the peasantry over Europe during the _twelfth
century_, and the fierce Jacquerie, or Peasant Wars, of the _fourteenth
century_ in France owed their origin, among other causes, to the
enforcement of these claims by the lords upon the newly-married wife.
The edicts of Marly transplanted that claim to America when Canada was
under the control of France. To persons not conversant with the history
of feudalism, and of the Church for the first fifteen hundred years of
its existence, it will seem impossible that such foulness could ever
have been part of Christian civilization. That the crimes they have been
trained to consider the worst forms of heathendom could have existed
in Christian Europe, _upheld by both Church and State_ for more than a
thousand five hundred years, will strike most people with incredulity.
Such, however, is the truth; we can but admit well-attested facts of
history, how severe a blow soever they strike our preconceived beliefs.

"Marquette was claimed by the Lords Spiritual,* as well as by the
Lords Temporal. _The Church indeed, was the bulwark of this base feudal
claim_. With the power of penance and excommunication in its grasp,
this demand could neither have originated nor been sustained unless
sanctioned by the Church.... These customs of feudalism were the customs
of Christianity during many centuries. (One of the Earls of Crawford,
known as the 'Earl Brant,' in the _sixteenth_ century, was probably
among the last who openly claimed by right the literal translation of
_droit de Jambage_.) These infamous outrages upon woman were enforced
under Christian law by both Church and State.

     * "In days to come people will be slow to believe that the
     law among _Christian nations went beyond anything decreed_
     concerning the olden slavery; that it wrote down as an
     actual right the most grievous outrage that could ever wound
     _man's_ heart. The Lords Spiritual (clergy) had this right
     no less than the Lords Temporal. The _parson_, being a lord,
     _expressly claimed the first fruits of the bride, but was
     willing to sell_ his right to the husband. The Courts of
     Berne openly maintain that this right grew up naturally."--
     Michelet, "La Sorcerie," p.62

"The degradation of the _husband_ at this infringement of the lord
spiritual and temporal upon his marital right, has been pictured by many
writers, but history has been quite silent upon the despair and shame
of the wife. No hope appeared for woman anywhere. The Church....
dragged her to the lowest depths, through the vileness of its priestly
customs.... We who talk of the burning of wives upon the funeral pyres
of husbands in India, may well turn our eyes to the records of Christian
countries."--Matilda Joslyn Gage in "Woman, Church, and State."

2. From this point Mrs. Gage calls attention to the various efforts to
throw off this degrading custom. The women held meetings at night, and
among other things travestied the celebration of Mass and other Church
customs; but the end and aim of these meetings being a protest and
rebellion against Marquette, the clergy called those who took part in
them "witches;"* and then and there began the persecution which the
Church carried on against women under this disguise (under Catholic and
Protestant rule alike), which extended down to the latter part of the
last century, with its list of horrors and indignities extending over
all Christian countries and blossoming in all their vigor in our
own eastern States, upheld by Luther, John Wesley, and Baxter, who
unfortunately had not at that time entered into the everlasting rest
of the Saints. And, true to these noble and wise leaders, the Churches
which they founded are to-day expressing the same sentiments (in
principle) in regard to the honor and dignity and position of woman.
The arguments of the Rev. Dr. Craven, the prosecutor in the famous
Presbyterian trial of 1876, which are given by Mrs. Gage, together with
numerous other similar ones, fully establish the fact that woman is to
the Church what she always was--_so far as secular law will permit._ And
numerous instances (such as the Buckley exhibition at the last Methodist
Conference, in which he was sustained by the Conference) prove that they
have learned nothing since 1876.

     * "There are few superstitions which have been so universal
     as a belief in witchcraft. The severe theology of paganism
     despised the wretched superstition, which has been greedily
     believed by millions of Christians."--Buckle.

3. I wish I might copy here the sermon to women which the Rev.
Knox-Little, the well-known High-Church clergyman of England, preached
when in this country in 1880, in which he said, "There is no crime which
a man can commit which justifies his wife in leaving him. It is her duty
to subject herself to him always, and no crime that he can commit can
justify her lack of obedience." Although a little balder in statement
than are most utterances of orthodox clergymen in this age, yet in
sentiment and in the reason given for it the echo of "Amen" comes from
every pulpit where a believer in original sin, vicarious atonement,
or the inspiration of the Bible has a representative and a voice. If
self-respect or honor is ever to be the lot of woman, it will not be
until her foot is on the neck of orthodoxy, and when the Bible ranks
where it belongs in the field of literature.

Appendix F.

1. "The French government, about the middle of the eighteenth century,
seems to have reached the maturity of its wickedness, allowing if not
instigating religious persecutions of so infamous a nature that they
would not be believed if they were not attested by documents of the
courts in which the sentences were passed."--Buckle.

2. Of Louis XV., the eminently Christian king of France, Buckle says:
"His harem cost more than 100,000,000 francs, and was composed of
_little girls_. He was constantly drunk," and "turned out his own
illegitimate children to prostitute themselves."

3. "It will hardly be believed that, when sulphuric ether was first
used to lessen the pains of childbirth, it was objected to as 'a profane
attempt to abrogate the primeval curse pronounced upon woman....' The
injury which the theological principle has done to the world is immense.
It has prevented men from studying the laws of nature."--Buckle.

Appendix G.

1. "The narrow range of their sympathies [the clergy's], and the
intellectual servitude they have accepted, render them _peculiarly
unfitted_ for the office of educating the young, which they so
persistently claim, and which, _to the great misfortune of the world_,
they were long permitted to monopolize.... The almost complete omission
from female education of those studies which most discipline and
strengthen the intellect, increases the difference, while at the
same time it has been usually made a main object to imbue them with a
passionate faith in traditional opinions, and to preserve them from
all contact with opposing views. But contracted knowledge and imperfect
sympathy are not the sole fruits of this education. It has always been
the peculiarity of a certain kind of theological teaching, that it
-inverts all the normal principles of judgment and absolutely destroys
intellectual diffidence. On other subjects we find if not a respect for
honest conviction, at least some sense of the amount of knowledge
that is requisite to entitle men to express an opinion on grave
controversies. A complete ignorance of the subject-matter of a dispute
restrains the confidence of dogmatism; and an ignorant person who is
aware that, by much reading and thinking in spheres of which he has
himself no knowledge, his educated neighbor has modified or rejected
opinions which that ignorant person had been taught, will, at least
if he is a man of sense or modesty, abstain from compassionating the
benighted condition of his more instructed friend. But on theological
questions this has never been so.

"Unfaltering belief being taught as the first of duties, and all doubt
being usually stigmatized as criminal or damnable, a state of mind is
formed to which we find no parallel in other fields. Many men and most
women, though completely ignorant of the very rudiments of biblical
criticism, historical research, or scientific discoveries, though they
have never read a single page, or Understood a single proposition of
the writings of those whom they condemn, and have absolutely no rational
knowledge either of the arguments by which their faith is defended, or
of those by which it has been impugned, will nevertheless adjudicate
with the utmost confidence upon every polemical question, denounce,
hate, pity, or pray for the conversion of all who dissent from what they
have been taught, assume, as a matter beyond the faintest possibility
of doubt, that the opinions they have received without inquiry must be
true, and that the opinions which others have arrived at by inquiry must
be false, and make it a main object of their lives to assail what they
call heresy in every way in their power, except by examining the grounds
on which it rests. It is possible that the great majority of voices that
swell the clamor against every book which is regarded as heretical, are
the voices of those who would deem it criminal even to open that book,
or to enter into any real, searching, and impartial investigation of the
subject to which it relates. Innumerable pulpits support this tone of
thought, and represent, with a fervid rhetoric _well fitted to excite
the nerves and imaginations of women_, the deplorable condition of
all who deviate from a certain type of opinions or emotions; a blind
propagandism or a secret wretchedness penetrates into countless
households, poisoning the peace of families, chilling the mental
confidence of husband and wife, _adding immeasurably to the difficulties
which every searcher into truth has to encounter, and diffusing far and
wide intellectual timidity, disingenuousness, and hypocrisy_."--Lecky.

2. "The clergy, with a few honorable exceptions, have in all modern
countries been the avowed enemies of the diffusion of knowledge, the
danger of which to their own profession they, by a certain instinct,
seem always to have perceived."--Buckle.

3. "In the fourth century there arose monachism, and in, the sixth
century the Christians succeeded in cutting off the last ray of
knowledge, and shutting up the schools of Greece. Then followed a long
period of theology, ignorance, and vice."--Puckle.

4. "Contempt for human sciences was one of the first features of
Christianity. It had to avenge itself of the outrages of philosophy; it
feared that spirit of investigation and doubt, that confidence of man in
his own reason, the pest alike of all religious creeds. The light of
the natural sciences was ever odious to it, and was ever regarded with a
suspicious eye, as being a _dangerous enemy to the success of miracles_;
and there is no religion that does not oblige its sectaries to follow
some physical absurdities. _The triumph of Christianity was thus
the final signal of the entire decline both of the sciences and of
philosophy_."--"Progress of the Human Mind," _Condorcet_.

"Accordingly it ought not to astonish us that Christianity, _though
unable in the sequel to prevent their reappearance in splendor after
the invention of printing_, was at this period sufficiently powerful to
accomplish their ruin."--Ibid.

"In the disastrous epoch at which we are now arrived, we shall see the
human mind _rapidly descending from the height to which it had
raised itself_... Everywhere was corruption, cruelty, and perfidy....
Theological reveries, superstitions, delusions, are become the sole
genius of man, religious _intolerance his only morality_; and Europe,
crushed between sacerdotal tyranny and military despotism, awaits in
blood and in tears the moment when the _revival of light shall restore
it to liberty, to humanity, and to virtue_.... The priests held human
learning in contempt.... Fanatic armies laid waste the provinces.
Executioners, _under the guidance of legates and priests_, put to
death those whom the soldiers had spared. _A tribunal of monks was
established, with power of condemning to the stake whoever should be
suspected of making use of his reason_.... All sects, all governments,
every species of authority, inimical as they were to each other in
every point else, seemed to be of accord in granting no quarter to the
exercise of reason.... Meanwhile education, being everywhere subjected
[to the clergy], had corrupted everywhere the general understanding,
by _clogging the reason of children with the weight of the religious
prejudices of their country_... In the eighth century an ignorant pope
had persecuted a deacon for contending that the earth was round,
in opposition to the opinion of the rhetorical Saint Austin. In the
fifteenth, the ignorance of another pope, much more inexcusable,
delivered Galileo into the hands of the inquisition, _accused of having
proved the diurnal and annual motion of the earth_. The greatest genius
that modern Italy has given to the sciences, overwhelmed with age and
infirmities, was obliged to purchase his release from punishment and
from prison, by asking pardon of God for having taught men better to
understand his works."--Ibid.

Appendix H.

1. Fenelon, a celebrated French clergyman and writer of the seventeenth
century, discouraged the acquisition of knowledge by women.--See
Hallam's "Lit. of Europe."

2. "Perhaps it is to the spirit of Puritanism that we owe the
little influence of women, and the consequent inferiority of their

3. "In England (1840) a distrust and contempt for reason prevails
amongst religious circles to a wide extent; many Christians think it
almost a matter of duty to decry the human faculties as poor, mean,
and almost worthless; and thus seek to exalt piety at the expense of
intelligence."--Morell's "Hist. of Speculative Phil."

4. "That women are more deductive than men, because they think quicker
than men, is a proposition which some people will not relish, and yet
it may be proved in a variety of ways. Indeed nothing could prevent its
being universally admitted except the fact that the remarkable rapidity
with which women think is obscured by that miserable, that contemptible,
that preposterous system, called their education, in which valuable
things are carefully kept from them, and trifling things carefully
taught to them, until their fine and nimble minds are too often
irretrievably injured."--Buckle.

Appendix I.

1. "The Roman [Pagan] religion was essentially domestic, and it was
a main object of the legislator to surround marriage with every
circumstance of dignity and solemnity. _Monogamy was, from the earliest
times, strictly enjoined_, and it was one of the great benefits that
have resulted from the expansion of Roman power, _that it made this type
dominant in Europe_. In the legends of early Rome we have ample evidence
both of the high moral estimate of women, and of their prominence in
Roman life. The tragedies of Lucretia and of Virginia display a delicacy
of honor, a sense of the supreme excellence of unsullied purity, which
no Christian nation could surpass."--Lecky, "European Morals," Vol. 1,
p. 316.

2. "Marriage [under Christian rule] was viewed in its coarsest and most
degraded form. The notion of its impurity took many forms, and
exercised _for some centuries_ an extremely wide influence over the
Church."--Ibid., p. 343.

Appendix J.

1. "We are continually told that civilization and Christianity have
restored to the woman her just rights. Meanwhile the wife is the actual
bond-servant of her husband; no less so, as far as legal obligation
goes, than slaves commonly so called. She vows a lifelong obedience
to him at the altar, and is held to it all through her life by law.
Casuists may say that the obligation of obedience stops short of
participation in crime, but it certainly extends to everything else. She
can do no act whatever but by his permission, at least tacit. She can
acquire no property but _for him_; the instant it becomes hers, even if
by inheritance, it becomes _ipso facto_ his. In this respect the wife's
position under the common law of England is worse than that of slaves
in the laws of many countries; by the _Roman_ law, for example, a slave
might have _peculium_, which, to a certain extent, the law guaranteed
him for his exclusive use."--Mill.

2. Speaking of self-worship which leads to brutality toward others, Mill
says: "Christianity will never practically teach it" (the equality of
human beings) "while it sanctions institutions grounded on an arbitrary
preference for one human being over another."

"The morality of the first ages rested on the obligation to submit to
power; that of the ages next following, on the right of the weak to the
forbearance and protection of the strong. How much longer is one form of
society and life to content itself with the morality made for another?
We have had the morality of submission, and the morality of chivalry
and generosity; the time is now come for the morality of justice."

"Institutions, books, education, society all go on training human beings
for the old, long after the new has come; much more when it is only

"There have been abundance of people, in all ages of Christianity, who
tried... to convert us into a sort of Christian Mussulmans, with the
Bible for a Koran, prohibiting all improvement; and great has been their
power, and many have had to sacrifice their lives in resisting them. But
they have been resisted, _and the resistance has made us what we are,
and will yet make us what we are to be_."--Ibid.

Appendix K

"In this tendency [to depreciate extremely the character and position
of women] we may detect in part the influence of the earlier Jewish
writings, in which it is probable that most impartial observers will
detect evident traces of the common oriental depreciation of women.
The custom of money-purchase to the father of the bride was admitted.
Polygamy was authorized, and practised by the wisest men on an enormous
scale. A woman was regarded as the origin of human ills. A period of
purification was appointed after the birth of every child; but, _by a
very significant provision, it was twice as long in the case of a female
as of a male child_ (Levit. xii. 1-5). _The badness of men_, a Jewish
writer emphatically declared, _is better than the goodness of women_
(Ecclesiasticus xlii. 14). The types of female excellence exhibited in
the early period of Jewish history are in general _of a low order, and
certainly far inferior_ to those of Roman history or Greek poetry; and
_the warmest eulogy of a woman in the Old Testament is probably
that which was bestowed upon her who, with circumstances of the most
exaggerated treachery, had murdered the sleeping fugitive who had taken
refuge under her roof,_"--Lecky, "European Morals," vol 1, p. 357.

Appendix L.

1. "Mr. F. Newman, who looks on toleration as the result of intellectual
progress, says: 'Nevertheless, not only does the Old Testament justify
bloody persecution, but the New teaches that God will visit men with
fiery vengeance _for holding an erroneous creed_."--Buckle.

2. "The first great consequence of the decline of priestly influence was
the rise of toleration.... I suspect that the _impolicy_ of persecution
was perceived before its wickedness. "--Ibid.

3. "While a multitude of scientific discoveries, critical and historical
researches, and educational reforms have brought thinking men face to
face with religious problems of extreme importance, _women have been
almost absolutely excluded from their influence_."--Lechy.

4. "The domestic unhappiness arising from difference of belief
was probably almost or altogether unknown in the world before the
introduction of Christianity.... _The deep, and widening chasm between
the religious opinions of most highly educated men, and of the immense
majority of women is painfully apparent_. Whenever any strong religious
fervor fell upon a husband or a wife, its first effect was to make a
happy union impossible."--Ibid.

5. "The combined influence of the Jewish writings [Old Testament] and
of that ascetic feeling which treated woman as the chief source of
temptation to man, caused her degradation.... In the writings of the
Fathers, woman was represented as the door of hell, as the mother of
all human ills. She should be ashamed at the very thought that she is
a woman. She should live in continual penance, _on account of the curse
she has brought into the world_. She should be ashamed of her dress,
_and especially ashamed of her beauty_."--Ibid.

Appendix M.

1. "The writers of the Middle Ages are full of accounts of nunneries
that were like brothels.... The inveterate prevalence of incest among
the clergy rendered it necessary again and again to issue the most
stringent enactments that priests should not be permitted to live with
their _mothers or sisters_.... An Italian bishop of the tenth century
enigmatically described the morals of his time, when he declared,
that if he were to enforce the canons against unchaste people
administering ecclesiastical rites, no one would be left in the Church
except the boys."--Lecky.

2. In the middle of the sixteenth century ''the majority of the clergy
were nearly illiterate, and many of them addicted to drunkenness and low
vices.--Hallam, "Const. Hist, of Eng."

3. "The clergy have ruined Italy."--Brougham, "Pol. Phil."

4. "It was a significant prudence of many of the lay Catholics, who were
accustomed to insist that their priests should take a concubine _for
the protection of the families of the parishioners_.... It can hardly be
questioned that the extreme frequency of illicit connections among the
clergy _tended during many centuries most actively to lower the
moral tone of the laity_.... An impure chastity was fostered, which
continually looked upon marriage in its coarsest light.... Another
injurious consequence, resulting, in a great measure, from asceticism,
was a tendency to depreciate extremely the character and the position of

Appendix N.

1. "The great and main duty which a wife, as a wife, ought to learn,
and so learn as to practise it, is to be subject to her own husband....
There is not any husband to whom this honor of submission is not due; no
personal infirmity, frowardness of nature; no, not even on the point of
religion, doth deprive him of it."--Fergusson on "the Epistles."

2. "The sum of a wife's duty unto her husband is subjection.

3. "We shall be told, perhaps, that religion imposes the duty of
obedience [upon wives]; as every established fact _which is too bad to
admit of any other defense, is always presented to us as an
injunction of religion. The Church, it is true, enjoins it in her

"The principle of the modern movement in morals and in politics, is that
conduct, and conduct alone, entitles to respect: that not what men are,
but what they do constitutes their claim to deference; that, above
all, _merit and not birth is the only rightful claim to power and

"Taking the care of people's lives out of their own hands, and relieving
them from the consequences of their own acts, _saps the very foundation_
of the self-respect and self-control which are the essential conditions
both of individual prosperity and of social virtue."--Ibid.

"Inferior classes of men always, at heart, feel disrespect toward those
who are subject to their power."--Ibid.

4. "Among those causes of human improvement that are of most importance
to the general welfare, must be included the total annihilation of the
prejudices which have established between the sexes an inequality of
right, _fatal even to the party which it favors_. In vain might we
seek for motives to justify the principle, in difference of physical
organization, of intellect, or of moral sensibility. It had at first
no other origin but abuse of strength, _and all the attempts which have
since been made to support it_ are idle sophisms."--"Progress of the
Human Mind," _Condorcet_.

5. Notwithstanding the work of such men as the Encyclopedists of France
and other liberal thinkers for the proper recognition of women, the
Church had held her grip so tight that upon the passage of the bill,
as late as 1848, giving to married women the right to own their own
property, the most doleful prophesies went up as to the just retribution
that would fall upon women for their wicked insubordination, and upon
the men who had defied divine commands so far as to pass such a law. A
recent writer tells us that Wm. A. Stokes, in talking to a lady whom he
blamed for its passage, said: "We hold you responsible for that law,
and I tell you now you will live to rue the day when you opened such a
Pandora's box in your native State, and cast such an apple of discord
into every family of the State."

And the sermons that were preached against it--the prophecies of deacon
and preacher--were so numerous, so denunciatory, and so violent that
they form a queer and interesting chapter in the history of the attitude
of the Church toward women, and illustrate, in our own time, how
persistent it has been in its efforts to prevent woman from sharing in
the benefits of the higher civilization of the nineteenth century.

But fortunately for women, Infidels are more numerous than they ever
were before, and the power of the Church is dying of dry rot, or as Col.
Ingersoll wittily says, of the combined influence of softening of the
brain and ossification of the heart.

Appendix O.

"St. Gregory the Great describes the virtue of a priest, _who through
motives of piety had discarded his wife_... Their wives, in _immense
numbers_, were driven forth with hatred and with scorn... Pope Urban II.
_gave license_ to the nobles _to reduce to slavery the wives_ of priests
who refused to abandon them."--Lecky.

Appendix P.

1. "Hallam denies that respect for women is due to Christianity.

2. "In England, wives are still occasionally led to the market by
a halter around the neck to be sold by the husband to the highest

"The sale of a wife with a halter around her neck is still a legal
transaction in England. The sale must be made in the cattle market, as
if she were a mare, all women being considered as mares by old English
law, and indeed _called_ 'mares' in certain counties where genuine old
English law is still preserved."--Borrow.

3. "Contempt for woman, _the result of clerical teaching_, is shown in
myriad forms."--Gage.

4. "The legal subordination of one sex to another is wrong in itself,
_and is now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement_."--John
Stuart Mill.

5. "I have no relish for a community of goods resting on the doctrine,
that what is mine is yours, but what is yours is not mine; and I should
prefer to decline entering into such a compact with anyone, _though I
were myself_ the person to profit by it."--Ibid.

It will take a long time for that sort of morality to filter into the
skull of the Church, and when it does the skull will burst.

6. "Certain beliefs have been inculcated, certain crimes invented, in
order to intimidate the masses. Hence the Church made free thought the
worst of sins, and the spirit of inquiry the worst of blasphemies.... As
late as the time of Bunyan the chief doctrine inculcated from the pulpit
was obedience to the temporal power.... All these influences fell with
crushing weight on woman."--_Matilda Joslyn Gage_ in "Hist. Woman

7. "Taught that education for her was indelicate and irreligious, she
has been kept in such gross ignorance as to fall a prey to superstition,
and to glory in her own degradation... Such was the prejudice against a
liberal education for woman, that the first public examination of a girl
in geometry (1829) created as bitter a storm of ridicule as has since
assailed women who have entered the law, the pulpit, or the medical

Appendix Q.

1. "The five writers to whose genius we owe the first attempt at
comprehensive views of history were Bolingbroke, Montesquieu, Voltaire,
Hume, and Gibbon. Of these the second was but a cold believer in
Christianity, if, indeed, he believed in it at all; and the other four
were avowed and notorious infidels."--Buckle.

2 "Here, then, we have the starting-point of progress--_scepticism_....
All, therefore, that men want is _no hindrance_ from their political and
religious rulers.... Until common minds doubt respecting religion they
can never receive any new scientific conclusion at variance with it--as
Joshua and Copernicus."--Ibid.

3. "The immortal work of Gibbon, of which the sagacity is, if possible,
equal to the learning, did find readers, but the illustrious author
was so cruelly reviled by men who called themselves Christians, that
it seemed doubtful if, after such an example, subsequent writers would
hazard their comfort and happiness by attempting to write philosophic
history. Middleton wrote in 1750.... As long as the theological spirit
was alive nothing could be effected."--Ibid.

4. "The questions which presented themselves to the acuter minds of a
hundred years ago were present to the acuter minds who lived hundreds
of years before that.... But the Church had known how to deal with
intellectual insurgents, from Abelard in the twelfth century down to
Bruno and Vanini in the seventeenth. They were isolated, and for the
most part submissive; and _if they were not_, the arm of the Church was
very long and her grasp mortal.... They [the thinkers] could have taught
Europe _earlier than the Church allowed it to learn_, that the sun does
not go round the earth, and that it is the earth which goes round the
sun.... After the middle of the last century the insurrection against
the pretensions of the Church and against the doctrines of Christianity
was marked in one of its most important phases by a new, and most
significant, feature.... It was an advance both in knowledge and
in moral motive.... The philosophical movement was represented by
"Diderot" [leading the Encyclopaedist circle.]... Broadly stated the
great central moral of it was this: that human nature is good, that the
world is capable of being made a desirable abiding-place, and that the
evil of the world _is the fruit of bad education and bad institutions_.
This cheerful doctrine now strikes on the ear as a commonplace and a
truism. A hundred years ago in France it was a wonderful gospel, _and
the beginning of a new dispensation.... Into what fresh and unwelcome
sunlight it brought the articles of the old theology... Every social
improvement since has been the outcome of that new doctrine in one form
or another_.... The teaching of the Church paints men as fallen and
depraved. The deadly chagrin with which churchmen saw the new fabric
rising was very natural.... The new secular knowledge clashed at
a thousand points, alike in letter and spirit, with the old sacred
lore.... A hundred years ago this perception was vague and indefinite,
but there was an unmistakable apprehension that _the Catholic ideal
of womanhood_ was no more adequate to the facts of life, than Catholic
views about science, or popery, or labor, or political order and

And it took the rising infidels to discover the fact. See Morley,
"Diderot," p. 76.

"The greatest fact in the intellectual history of the eighteenth century
is the decisive revolution that overtook the sustaining conviction of
the Church. The central conception, that the universe was called into
existence only to further its Creator's purpose toward man, became
incredible (by the light of the new thought). What seems to careless
observers a mere metaphysical dispute was in truth, _and still is, the
decisive quarter of the great battle between theology and a philosophy
reconcilable with science_."--Morley.

"The man _who ventured to use his mind_ [Diderot] was thrown into the
dungeon at Vincennes."--Ibid.

5. "Those thinkers [Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot] taught men to
reason; reasoning well leads to acting well; justness in the mind
becomes justice in the heart. Those toilers for progress labored
usefully.... The French Revolution was their soul. It was their radiant
manifestation. It came from them; we find them everywhere in that blest
and superb catastrophe, which formed the conclusion of the past and the
opening of the future.... The new society, the desire for equality
and concession, and that beginning of fraternity which called itself
tolerance, reciprocal good-will, the just accord of men and rights,
reason recognized as the supreme law, the annihilation of prejudices and
fixed opinions, the serenity of souls, the spirit of indulgence and of
pardon, harmony, peace--behold what has come from them!"--Victor Hugo,
"Oration on Voltaire."

Appendix R.

"He [Mohammed] promulgated a mass of fables, which he pretended to
have received from heaven.... After enjoying for _twenty years_ a
power without bounds, and _of which there exists no other example_, he
announced publicly, that, if he had committed any act of injustice,
he was ready to make reparation. All were silent.... He died; and the
enthusiasm which he communicated to his people will be seen to change
the face of three-quarters of the globe.... I shall add that the
religion of Mohammed is the most simple in its dogmas, the least
absurd in its practices, above all others tolerant in its

Appendix S.

The claim is so often and so boldly made that Infidelity produces crime,
and that Christianity, or belief, or faith, makes people good, that the
following statistics usually produce a rather chilly sensation in the
believer when presented in the midst of an argument based upon the above
mentioned claim. I have used it with effect. The person upon whom it
is used will never offer that argument to you again. The following
statistics were taken from the British Parliamentary reports, made on
the instance of Sir John Trelawney, in 1873:


Criminals in England and Wales in 1873.................... 146,146


Church of England...............................................






Church of England.............................................. 96,097







Church of England............................................... 1,400



These statistics are taken from the report of the British Parliament,
which, for learning and intelligence, as a deliberative body, has not
its superior, if it has its equal, in the world, and it is surely a
sufficiently Christian body to be accepted as authority in this matter,
since a large number of its members are clergymen. These statistics
hardly sustain the allegation that "Infidelity is coupled with

We are willing to stand upon our record. But, lest it be claimed that
this is a British peculiarity, allow me to defer to the patriotic
sentiment of my readers by one other little set of tables which, while
not complete, is equally as suggestive.

"In sixty-six different prisons, jails, reformatories, refuges,
penitentiaries, and lock-ups there were, for the years given in reports,
41,335 men and boys, women and girls, of the following religious sects:


Church of England....................................................

Eighteen other Protestant denominations.................... 14,811


Jews, Chinese, and Mormons..................................... 110

Infidels (two so-called, one avowed)............................ 3

"These included the prisons of Iowa, Michigan, Tennessee, New York,
Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, and Canada."

Present these two tables to those who assure you that crime follows in
the wake of Infidelity, and you will have time to take a comfortable nap
before your Christian friend returns to the attack or braces up after
the shock sustained by his sentiments and inflicted by these two small
but truly suggestive tables.

One cold fact like this will inoculate one of the faithful with more
modesty than an hour of usual argument based upon the assumptions of the
clergy and the ignorance of his hearers.

Infidels are not perfect. Many of them need reconstruction sadly, but
the above data seem to indicate that they compare rather favorably with
their fellow-men in the matter of good citizenship.

"Moreover, as Goethe has already shown, the celebrated Mosaic moral
precepts, the so-called Ten Commandments, were _not_ upon the tables
upon which Moses wrote the laws of the covenant which God made with his

"Even the extraordinary diversity of the many religions diffused over
the surface of the earth suffices to show that they can stand in no
necessary connection with morals, as it is well known that wherever
tolerably well-ordered political and social conditions exist, the moral
precepts in their essential principles are the same, whilst when such
conditions are wanting, a wild and irregular confusion, or even an
entire deficiency of moral notions is met with.* History also shows
incontrovertibly that religion and morality have by no means gone hand
in hand in strength and development, but that even contrariwise the
most religious times and countries have produced the greatest number
of crimes and sins against the laws of morality, and indeed, as daily
experience teaches, still produce them. The history of nearly all
religions is filled with such horrible abominations, massacres, and
boundless wickednesses of every kind that at the mere recollection of
them the heart of a philanthropist seems to stand still, and we turn
with disgust and horror from a mental aberration which could produce
such deeds. If it is urged in vindication of religion that it has
advanced and elevated human civilization, even this merit appears very
doubtful in presence of the facts of history, and at least as very
rarely or isolatedly the case. In general, however, it cannot be denied
that most systems of religion have proved rather inimical than friendly
to civilization. For religion, as already stated, tolerates no doubt, no
discussion, no contradiction, no investigations, those eternal pioneers
of the future of science and intellect! Even the simple circumstance
that our present state of culture has already long since left far
behind it all and even the highest intellectual ideals established and
elaborated by former religions may show how little intellectual progress
is influenced by religion. Mankind is perpetually being thrown to and
fro between science, and religion, but it advances moro intellectually,
morally and physically in proportion as it turns away from religion and
to science.

     * "In China, where people are, as is well-known, very
     indifferent or tolerant in religious matters, this fine
     proverb is current: Religions are various, but reason is
     one, and we are all brothers.'"

"It is therefore clear that for our present age and for the future a
foundation must be sought and found for culture and morality, different
from that which can be furnished to us by religion. It is not the fear
of God that acts amelioratingly or ennoblingly upon manners, of which
the middle ages furnish us with a striking proof; but the ennobling of
the conception of the world in general which goes hand in hand with
the advance of civilization. Let us then give up making a show of the
profession of hypocritical words of faith, the only purpose of which
seems to be that they may be continually shown to be lies by the actions
and deeds of their professors! The man of the future will feel far more
happy and contented when he has not to contend at every step of his
intellectual forward development with those tormenting contradictions
between knowledge and faith which plague his youth, and occupy his
mature age unnecessarily with the slow renunciation of the notions which
he imbibed in his youth. What we sacrifice to God, we take away from
mankind, and absorb a great part of his best intellectual powers in
the pursuit of an unattainable goal. At any rate, the least that we can
expect in this respect from the state and society of the future is a
complete separation between ecclesiastical and worldly affairs, or
an absolute emancipation of the state and the school from every
ecclesiastical influence.

"Education must be founded upon _knowledge_, not upon _faith_; and
religion itself should be taught in the public schools only as religious
history and as an objective or scientific exposition of the different
religious systems prevailing among mankind. Any one who, after such an
education, still experiences the need of a definite law or rule of faith
may then attach himself to any religious sect that may seem good to him,
but cannot claim that the community should bear the cost of this special

"As regards Christianity, or the _Paulinism_ which is falsely called
Christianity, it stands, by its dogmatic portion or contents, in such
striking and irreconcilable, nay absolutely absurd contradiction with
all the acquisitions and principles of modern science that its future
tragical fate can only be a question of time. But even its ethical
contents or its moral principles are in no way essentially distinguished
above those of other peoples, and were equally well and in part better
known to mankind even _before_ its appearance. Not only in this respect,
but also in its supposed character as the _world-religion_, it is
excelled by the much older and probably most widely diffused religious
system in the world, the celebrated _Buddhism_, which recognizes
neither the idea of a personal God, nor that of a personal duration,
and nevertheless teaches an extremely pure, amiable, and even ascetic
morality. The doctrine of Zoroaster or Zarathrustra also, 1800 years
B. C, taught the principles of humanity and toleration for those of
different modes of thinking in a manner and purity which were unknown
to the Semitic religions and especially to Christianity. Christianity
originated and spread, as is well-known, at a time of general decline
of manners, and of very great moral and national corruption; and its
extraordinary success must be partly explained by the prevalence of a
sort of intellectual and moral disease which had overpowered the
spirits of men after the fall of the ancient civilization and under
the demoralizing influence of the gradual collapse of the great Roman
empire. But even at that time those who stood intellectually high and
looked deeply into things recognized the whole danger of this new turn
of mind, and it is very remarkable that the best and most benevolent of
the Roman emperors, such as Marcus Aurelius, Julian, etc., were the most
zealous persecutors of Christianity, whilst it was tolerated by the
bad ones, such as Commodus, Heliogabalus, etc. When it had gradually
attained the superiority, one of its first sins against intellectual
progress consisted in the destruction by Christian fanaticism of the
celebrated Library of Alexandria, which contained all the intellectual
treasures of antiquity--an incalculable loss to science, which can never
be replaced. It is usually asserted in praise of Christianity that in
the middle ages the Christian monasteries were the preservers of science
and literature, but even this is correct only in a very limited sense,
since boundless ignorance and rudeness generally prevailed in the
monasteries, and innumerable ecclesiastics could not even read. Valuable
literary treasures on parchment contained in the libraries of the
monasteries were destroyed, the monks when they wanted money selling the
books as parchment, or tearing out the leaves and writing psalms upon
them. Frequently they entirely effaced the ancient classics, to make
room for their foolish legends and homilies; nay, the reading of the
classics, such as Aristotle for example, was directly forbidden by papal

"In New Spain Christian fanaticism immediately destroyed whatever of
arts and civilization existed among the natives, and that this was not
inconsiderable is shown by the numerous monuments now in ruins which
place beyond a doubt the former existence of a tolerably high degree of
culture. But in the place of this not a trace of Christian civilization
is now to be observed among the existing Indians, and the resident
Catholic clergy keep the Indians purposely in a state of the greatest
ignorance and stupidity (see Richthofen, Die Zustande der Republic
Mexico, Berlin, 1854).

"Thus Christianity has always acted consistently in accordance with the
principles of one of the fathers of the Church, Tertullian, who says:
'_Desire of knowledge is no longer necessary since Jesus Christ, nor is
investigation necessary since the Gospel._' If the civilization of the
European and especially of Christian Nations has notwithstanding made
such enormous progress in the course of centuries, an unprejudiced
consideration of history can only tell us that this has taken place not
by means of Christianity, but in spite of it. And this is a sufficient
indication to what an extent this civilization must still be capable
of development when once it shall be completely freed from the narrow
bounds of old superstitious and religious embarrassments!"

"We must therefore endeavor to form convictions which are not to stand
once and for all, as philosophers and theologians usually do, but such
as may change and become improved with the advance of knowledge. Whoever
does not recognize this and gives himself up once for all to a belief
which he regards as final truth, whether it be of a theological or
philosophical kind, is of course incapable of accepting a conviction
supported upon scientific grounds. Unfortunately our whole education is
founded upon an early systematic curbing and fettering of the intellect
in the direction of dogmatic (philosophical or theological) doctrines of
faith, and only a comparatively small number of strong minds succeed
in after years in freeing themselves by their own powers from these
fetters, whilst the majority remain captive in the accustomed bonds and
form their judgment in accordance with the celebrated saying of Bishop
Berkeley: 'Few men think; but all will have opinions.'"--Buchner, "Man
in the Past, Present, and Future."

Appendix U.

"And here it may be remarked, once for all, that no man who has
subscribed to creeds and formulas, whether in theology or philosophy,
can be an unbiased investigator of the truth or an unprejudiced judge
of the opinions of others. His sworn preconceptions warping his
discernment, adherence to his sect or party engenders intolerance to the
honest convictions of other inquirer? Beliefs we may and must have,
but a belief to be changed with new and advancing knowledge impedes no
progress, while a creed subscribed to as _ultimate truth, and sworn
to be defended_, not only puts a bar to further research, but as a
consequence throws the odium of distrust on all that may seem to oppose

"Even when such odium cannot deter, it annoys and irritates; hence the
frequent unwillingness of men of science to come prominently forward
with the avowal of their beliefs.

"It is time this delicacy were thrown aside, and such theologians
plainly told that the skepticism and Infidelity--if skepticism and
Infidelity there be--lies all on their own side.

"There is no skepticism so offensive as that which doubts the facts of
honest and careful observation; no Infidelity so gross as that which
disbelieves the deductions of competent and unbiased judgments."--David
Page, "Man," etc., Edinburgh, 1867.

Appendix V.

Since I have recorded this incident of my lecture in Chicago, it is
peculiarly fitting and pleasant to be able to give the following
extract from the review of the first edition of this book printed in the
_Chicago Times_. No great daily paper would have dared to print such a
comment a few years ago. To-day it is stated as a matter quite beyond

"She takes considerable pains to show _what one would think
need scarcely be insisted upon in our day_, that the morals of
civilization--morals in general, indeed--are not at all based in or
dependent upon religion, certainly not on Christianity, since the
so-called 'golden rule' the highest principle of morality, antedates
Christianity a thousand years."


Up to the present time I have tried to reply personally to each one
who has favored me with a letter of thanks, criticism, or praise of the
little book, "Men, Women, and Gods, and Other Lectures," just published,
but I find that if I continue to do this I shall have but little time
for anything else.

The very unexpected welcome which the book has received prompts me to
take this plan and means of replying to many who have honored me by
writing me personal letters. First, permit me to thank those who have
written letters of praise and gratitude, and to say that, although I may
be unable to reply in a private letter, I am not indifferent to these
evidences of your interest, and am greatly helped in my work by your
sympathy and encouragement. I have also received most courteous letters
from various clergymen who, disagreeing with me, desire to convert me
either by mail or personal (private) interviews.

It is wholly impossible for me to grant these requests, since my time
and strength are demanded in other work, but I wish to say here what I
have written to several of my clerical correspondents, and desire to say
to them all.

Although I cannot enter into private correspondence with, nor grant
personal interviews to, such a number of your body, I am entirely
willing to respond in a public way to any replies to my arguments which
come under the following conditions:

1. On page fourteen of the introduction to my book Col. Ingersoll says:
"No human being can answer her arguments. There is no answer. All the
priests in the world cannot explain away her objections. There is no
explanation. They should remain dumb unless they can show that the
impossible is the probable, that slavery is better than freedom, that
polygamy is the friend of woman, that the innocent can justly suffer for
the guilty, and that to persecute for opinion's sake is an act of love
and worship."

Now, whenever any one of these gentlemen who wish to convert me will
show that the Colonel is wrong in this brief paragraph; whenever they
will, in print or in public, refute the arguments to which he refers,
and to which they object, I shall not be slow to respond.

2. It must be argument, not personal abuse, and it must be conducted in
a courteous manner and tone.

3. It must proceed upon the basis that I am as honest, as earnest, and
as virtuous in my motives and intentions as they are in theirs.

Now, surely these gentlemen cannot object to these simple requirements;
and since some of them are men whose names are preceded by a title
and followed by several capital letters (ranging from D.D. to
O.S.F.----which last I, in my ignorance, guess at as meaning Order of
St. Francis, but shall like to be corrected if I am wrong) they must
believe that to answer the arguments themselves is both simple and easy.

If they do not so believe they surely have no right to occupy the
positions which they do occupy. If they do so believe it will do much
more good to answer them publicly, since they have been made publicly,
and are already in the hands of several thousand people, who could not
be reached by any amount of eloquence poured out on ray devoted head in
the privacy of my own parlor (or writing-desk).

Therefore, gentlemen, permit me to say to you all that which I have
already written to several of you personally--that Col. Ingersoll's
paragraph, quoted above, expresses my own views and those of a great
many other people, and will continue so to do so long as your efforts to
show that he is wrong are only whispered to me behind a fan, or in the
strict seclusion of a letter marked "private and personal."

The arguments I have given against the prevailing Christian dogmas and
usages, which you uphold, are neither private nor personal, nor shall I
allow them to take that phase. Life is too short for me to spend hours
day after day in sustaining, in private, a public argument which has
never been (and, in my opinion, never will be), refuted. And it would
do no good to the thousands whom you are pleased to say you fear will
be led astray by my position. You have a magnificent opportunity to lead
them back again by honest public letters, or lectures, or sermons, not
by an afternoon's chat with me.

And, while I recognize the courtesy of your pressing requests (made,
without exception, in the most gentlemanly terms) to permit you to meet
me personally and refute my arguments, I feel compelled to say that,
unless you are willing to show the courage of your convictions, _and
the quality of your defense_, to the public, I fear they would have no
weight with me, and I should have wasted your precious time as well as
my own, which I should feel I had no right to do, nor to allow you to
do, without this frank statement of the case.

Now, do not suppose that I have the slightest objection to meeting the
clergy personally and socially. Upon the contrary, many of my friends
are clergymen--even bishops--but candor compels me to state that up to
the present time not one of them has (either privately or otherwise)
been able to answer either of the first two lectures in that little
book, and as to the third one, no one of them, in my opinion, will ever
try to answer it.

Time will show whether I am right in this.

In the mean time accept my thanks for your interest, and believe me,


Helen H. Gardener.


I send my greetings to the Congress of Freethinkers assembled at
Cleveland, and regret, more than I can express, that I am unable to
be there and hear all the good things you will hear, and see all the
earnest workers you will see.

The Freethinkers of America ought to be a very proud and enthusiastic
body, when they have in their presidential chair the ablest orator
of modern times, and the broadest, bravest, and most comprehensive
intellect that has ever been called "Mr. President" in this land of
bravery and presidents. Washington was a patriot of whom we are all
justly proud. He was liberal in his religion and progressive in his
views of personal rights. And yet he had his limitations. To him liberty
and personal rights were modified by the words, "free, white, adult,
males." He got no farther. He who fought for freedom upheld slavery! And
yet we are all proud and glad to pay honor and respect to the memory of

Abraham Lincoln we place still higher on the roll of honor; for, added
to his still more liberal religious views, in his conceptions of freedom
and justice he had at least two fewer limitations than had the patriot
of 1776. He struck both "free" and "white" from his mental black list,
and gave once more an impulse to liberty that thrilled a nation and gave
fresh dignity to the human race.

But what shall we say of our president--Ingersoll? A man who in
ten short years has carried mental liberty into every household in
America--who is without limitations in religion, and modifies justice by
no prefix. A man who, with unequaled oratory, champions Freedom--not the
"free, white, adult, male" freedom of Washington. A man who has breasted
a whirlwind of detraction and abuse for Justice--not the "male, adult"
justice of Lincoln, but the freedom and justice, without limitation, for
"man, woman, and child."

With such a leader, what should not be achieved? With such a champion,
what cause could fail? If the people ever place such a man in the White
House, the nations of this earth will know, for the first time, the real
meaning of a free government under secular administration.

"A government of the people, for the people, by the people," will be
more than simply a high-sounding phrase, which, read by the light of the
past, was only a bitter mockery to a race in chains; and, read by the
light of the present, is a choice bit of grim humor to half of a nation
in petticoats. But so long as the taste of the voter is such that he
prefers to place in the executive chair a type of man so eminently
fitted for private life that when you want to find him you have to
_shake the chair_ to see if he is in it, just so long will there be no
danger that the lightning will strike so as to deprive the Freethinkers
of one man in America who could fill the national executive chair
_full_, and strain the back and sides a little getting in.

Once more I send greetings to the Convention, with the hope that you may
have as grand a time as you ought to have, and that Free thought will
receive a new impulse from the harmony and enthusiasm of this meeting.

Helen H. Gardener.

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