Of what use are the Orthodox Ministers?
They are the enemies of pleasure. They denounce dancing as one
of the deadly sins. They are shocked at the wickedness of the waltz
— the pollution of the polka. They are the enemies of the theater.
They slander actors and actresses. They hate them because they are
rivals. They are trying to preserve the sacredness of the Sabbath.
It fills them with malice to see the people happy on that day. They
preach against excursions and picnics — against those who seek the
woods and the sea, the shadows and the waves. They are filled with
holy wrath against bicycles and bloomers. They are opposed to
divorces. They insist that for the glory of God, husbands and wives
who loathe each other should be compelled to live together. They
abhor all works of fiction, and love the Bible. They declare that
the literary master-pieces of the world are unfit to be read. They
think that the people should be satisfied with sermons and poems
about death and hell. They hate art — abhor the marbles of the
Greeks, and all representations of the human form. They want
nothing painted or sculptured but hands, faces and clothes. Most of
the priests are prudes, and publicly denounce what they secretly
admire and enjoy. In the presence of the nude they cover their
faces with their holy hands, but keep their fingers apart. They
pretend to believe in moral suasion, and want everything regulated
by law. If they had the power, they would prohibit everything that
men and women really enjoy. They want libraries, museums and art
galleries closed on the Sabbath. They would abolish the Sunday
paper — stop the running of cars and all public conveyances on the
holy day, and compel all the people to enjoy sermons, prayers and
These dear ministers, when they have poor congregations,
thunder against trusts, syndicates, and corporations — against
wealth, fashion and luxury. They tell about Dives and Lazarus,
paint rich men in hell and beggars in heaven. If their
congregations are rich they turn their guns in the other direction.
They have no confidence in education — in the development of
the brain. They appeal to hopes and fears. They ask no one to think
— to investigate. They insist that all shall believe. Credulity is
the greatest of virtues, and doubt the deadliest of sins.
These men are the enemies of science — of intellectual
progress. They ridicule and calumniate the great thinkers. They
deny everything that conflicts with the “sacred Scriptures.” They
still believe in the astronomy of Joshua and the geology of Moses.
They believe in the miracles of the past, and deny the
demonstrations of the present. They are the foes of facts — the
enemies of knowledge. A desire to be happy here, they regard as
wicked and worldly — but a desire to be happy in another world, as
virtuous and spiritual.
Every orthodox church is founded on mistake and falsehood.
Every good orthodox minister asserts what he does not know, and
denies what he does know.
What are the Orthodox Clergy Doing for the good of Mankind?
Robert Green Ingersoll – “Truth” (1897)