Daily Dose of Ingersoll

Some of the clergy have the independence to break away, and
the intellect to maintain themselves as free men, but the most are
compelled to submit to the dictation of the orthodox, and the dead.
They are not employed to give their thoughts, but simply to repeat
the ideas of others. They are not expected to give even the doubts
that may suggest themselves, but are required to walk in the
narrow, verdureless path trodden by the ignorance of the past. The
forests and fields on either side are nothing to them. They must
not even look at the purple hills, nor pause to hear the babble of
the brooks. They must remain in the dusty road where the guide-
boards are. They must confine themselves to the “fall of man,” “the
expulsion from the garden,” the “scheme of salvation,” the “second
birth,” the atonement, the happiness of the redeemed, and the
misery of the lost. They must be careful not to express any new
ideas upon these great questions. It is much safer for them to
quote from the works of the dead. The more vividly they describe
the sufferings of the unregenerate, of those who attended theaters
and balls, and drank wine in summer gardens on the Sabbath-day, and
laughed at priests, the better ministers they are supposed to be.
They must show that misery fits the good for heaven, while
happiness prepares the bad for hell; that the wicked get all their
good things in this life, and the good all their evil; that in this
world God punishes the people he loves, and in the next, the ones
he hates; that happiness makes us bad here, but not in heaven; that
pain makes us good here, but not in hell. No matter how absurd
these things may appear to the carnal mind, they must be preached
and they must he believed. If they were reasonable, there would be
no virtue in believing. Even the publicans and sinners believe
reasonable things. To believe without evidence, or in spite of it,
is accounted as righteousness to the sincere and humble Christian.

Robert Green Ingersoll – “Some Mistakes of Moses” (1879)