Vol.XII No.XII Pg.6
February 1976

Thomas Paine Said,--

Robert F. Turner

Thomas Paine was a deist, a freethinker who accepted God on a basis of reason and nature, but rejected revelation and all positive religion. Some think the deist attitude was the result of weariness with the endless theological and doctrinal controversies of the day. Whatever the cause, we certainly do not commend this concept of God. Further, we find such a concept inconsistent with statements quoted below.

But we are trying to give readers a better sense of historic heritage and, like it or not, we are benefactors of many with whom we differ. In Paines The Rights of Man he flails mans presumption to tell God whom He may tolerate, or reject. His words are important because of their impact on our forefathers, in the forming of principles of freedom for our nation.

I do not know where Paine got his ideas, but he could have learned this truth from the revelation he rejected. Paul teaches the same principle, in Rom. 14:4, 12. Our source is Citizen Tom Paine, by Howard Fast, 1943.

Toleration is not the opposite of Intolerance, but is the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding Liberty of Conscience, and the other of granting it. The one is the Pope armed with fire and faggot, and the other is the Pope selling or granting indulgence. The former is Church and State, and the latter is Church and traffic.

But Toleration may be viewed in a much stronger light. Man worships not himself, but his Maker; and the liberty of conscience which he claims is not for the service of himself, but of us God. In this case, therefore, we must necessarily have the associated idea of two beings; the moral who renders the worship, and the IMMORTAL BEING who is worshiped. Toleration, therefore, places itself, not between man and man, nor between Church and Church, nor between one denomination of religion and another, but between God and man; between the being who worships, and the BEING who is worshiped — and by the same act of assumed authority by which it tolerates man to pay his worship, it presumptuously and blasphemously sets itself up to tolerate the Almighty to receive it.

Were a Bill brought into any Parliament, entitled, An Act to tolerate or grant liberty to the Almighty to receive the worship of a Jew or a Turk, or to prohibit the Almighty from receiving it, all men would startled and call it blasphemy. There would be an uproar. The presumption of toleration in religious matters would then present itself unmasked; but the presumption is not the less because the name of Man only appears to those laws, for the associated idea of the worshiped and the worshiper cannot be separated.

Who then art thou, vain dust and ashes! by whatever name thou art called, whether a King, a Bishop, a Church, or a State, a Parliament, or anything else, that obtrudest thine insignificance between the soul of man and its Maker?