X-Message-Number: 20102
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 23:00:04 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Thomas Paine

Eytan Kollin, #20087:

>Mr. Paine was a brilliant writer.  When the French
>Revolution broke out he was an advocate.  He supported
>the French Revolution when it broke the power of the
>Catholic Church. He supported it when they killed the
>royal family, and he continued to excuse it when the
>guillotines started to murder French women and men in
>the tens of thousands. After all, some of them must
>have deserved it, and the goals of the revolution make
>it excusable and, wait a minute, Mr. Paine is sounding
>like a modern secularist also.

Paine did support the French revolution, at least initially, but also tried 
to stop the execution of Louis XVI

Paine himself was imprisoned while in France, and afterward thought that 
only being under treatment for a fever saved him from the guillotine--see 
Preface to *The Age of Reason*, part II. (The book is online at 
http://www.ushistory.org/paine/reason/.) A few sentences quoted from Part 1 
Section 1 show where Paine was coming from religiously:

>I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
>I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties 
>consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our 
>fellow-creatures happy.
>But, lest it should be supposed that I believe in many other things in 
>addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the 
>things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.
>I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman 
>church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant 
>church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
>All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or 
>Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify 
>and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

Paine, then, was a religious man, with beliefs and ideals found in the 
major religions, despite the negativity toward religious establishments.

Mike Perry

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