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Nick Clegg: "I don't believe in God"

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William Crawley | 14:49 UK time, Thursday, 20 December 2007

_42433487_clegg203.jpgNick Clegg, the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, is an atheist. Or perhaps an agnostic. It's difficult to say. But on Simon Mayo's programme yesterday, he gave a single-word answer to the question, "Do you believe in God?" And the answer was "No".

Rowan Williams was quick to welcome his honesty and openness; but it wasn't long before Mr Clegg felt the need to elaborate a little on his answer: he has "enormous respect for people who have religious faith", his wife is Catholic and his children are being brought up Catholic. He then used a curious expression -- "I am not an active believer" -- to describe his non-belief, almost implying that he was possibly an "inactive believer" rather than an active non-believer. Such are the awkward moments raised for British politicians when they answer direct questions about religious faith. Tony Blair was advised to keep schtum when asked about religion lest he be seen as a "nutter" (God forbid), and one can see why from a strictly political perspective. Whichever answer one gives to that question, it will alienate some section of the electorate.

There have been, and are, atheists in British politics, and some have been leaders of political parties (Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock to name but two). There are also outspoken atheists in the parliamentary ranks of the Lib Dems (Evan Harris is a member of the National Secular Society). But the politics of personal revelation are extremely unpredictable in the UK.

I suspect, with hindsight, Nick Clegg regrets answering such a deceptively simple question so directly. His political advisers may wish that he had said something like, "I am a politician and a party leader, and I am running for office as Prime Minister, not Archbishop. So I want to keep my focus on what we need to do to change this country for the better, and leave other questions to the theologians and philosophers."

This is a variation on the answer currently being given by Mitt Romney, the Mormon presidential candidate, when asked about the difference betweem Christianity and Mormonism. Governor Romney sidesteps the theological debate by saying, "I am running for Commader-in-Chief, not Pastor-in-Chief". Mind you, even then, he looks shifty and uncertain.

Comments

Well he has only denied his 'Atheism' once - he has two more times to go!

Maybe his middle name is Peter?

Regards,
Michael

  • 2.
  • At 09:54 PM on 20 Dec 2007,
  • Billy wrote:

What has the British public and God got in common? They don’t believe in Nick Clegg! How long will he last? Not very long, if his predecessors are any thing to go by, he’s another non-runner in the British political race for Number 10. or is he a fun runner no real threat to the big boys.

I applaud Nick Clegg's honesty. William seems to be arguing that politicians should evade such controversial questions, but might this evasiveness not be one of the reasons why politicians are at the bottom of all polls of trustworthiness (along with journalists)? Do people not want their politicians to be honest?
I agree, though, that honesty is sometimes not welcomed (a case of people wanting others to be honest and then vilifying them for it). Sadly, according to a recent poll in the US, it would be almost impossible for an atheist to become president at present.

This is an indication of the strength of the religious resurgence in the US. Many of the early Presidents were openly atheists/agnostics: Thomas Jefferson (“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear”); John Adams (“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”); James Madison (“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise”); Abraham Lincoln (“The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma”).

In the UK, Churchill once described himself as an ‘optimistic agnostic’ and in Blair’s Cabinet both Robin Cook and Mo Mowlam were probably atheists.

As for Northern Ireland, when the Humanist Association of Northern Ireland presented The God Delusion to local MLAs, we were told more than once that there were non-believers amongst the 108, but they have so far not outed themselves  – which is perhaps not surprising in a society so enslaved to religiosity. But perhaps Nick's honesty will encourage some of them to tell the truth.

I cannot agree with William’s comment that perhaps Clegg’s advisers might have told him to say: “I am a politician and a party leader, and I am running for office as Prime Minister, not Archbishop. So I want to keep my focus on what we need to do to change this country for the better, and leave other questions to the theologians and philosophers". Changing the country ‘for the better’ is a moral stance and if you are a Christian, you will surely believe that this is a religious as well as a political imperative. Certainly, as an atheist, I would not want to separate politics and morality in this way.

But journalists should not be complicit with politicians in a game of deception. A journalist should be dedicated to discovering the truth. For that, after all, is what journalism is all about. To support any attempt to conceal it is arguably betraying the profession.

  • 4.
  • At 12:23 AM on 21 Dec 2007,
  • Samuel Be wrote:

Brian, I don't see what your problem with Wll's piece is here...he isn't arguing that clegg should be deceptive, he's merely saying he suspects that cleggs advisers would have cautioned him against this move. That's hardly controversial is it?

Hi Samuel Be,
But would they have been right to have dissuaded him? That is the question.

I would say not and was arguing that William, as a journalist, should say not as well (seek the truth, the public has a right to know etc.)

I mean: Bush and Blair in Iraq believed they had a hot line to the Almighty so that, no matter what decision they took, God would approve even if the pope and the public didn't. Don't you think that we the voters have a right to know that our leaders sometimes might believe that they are not accountable to us but to some higher power? We do supposedly live in a democracy, after all.

If a politician is asked whether he believes in a God, he should answer honestly in my opinion. Good grief: if you do believe such a story, why would you possibly want to hide the fact! Is it something to ashamed of?

And if you don't believe, then in my view it is something to be proud of. We atheists should wear our badge with pride.


  • 6.
  • At 01:46 PM on 21 Dec 2007,
  • dp wrote:

In the absence of many other good reasons for voting for the 3 main parties, this type of honesty would swing me in favor of the Liberals. In the US it would probably cost him votes, but do you think there is a chance that taking this position could actually win him support in our more secular society?

Hello dp,

I might feel some sympathy because of it, but it wouldn't be the deciding issue for me by any means. Even if he hadn't watered down his initial response and had stuck to just 'no' it still wouldn't carry huge weight for me, just a bit.

Hi dp,
I agree with Peter. You have to judge politicians on a package of issues. Honesty in one area may be let down by deceit in another. Also, bread-and-butter issues should be more important than religion.

But on the original issue, if you read interviews in local newspapers, you will see that journalists are for ever asking celebrities: "Do you believe in God"? Why do they ask this question if we are going to say that either they expect the celebrity to say: "Yes", and therefore sometimes lie, or: "Well, it depends what you mean by god"? But, on the other hand, to answer 'no' is controversial. It is really ridiculous that a person cannot be expected to answer a direct question honestly without being vilified by some people who don't like his answer.

At least, it is an answer. Jeremy Paxman once asked Michael Howard 14 times for a direct answer to a question whether he had threatened a civil servant and didn't get it. Howard's repeated evasiveness contributed to his image of being slippery and untrustworthy. It didn't do him any good at all.

Here's to Nick Clegg. Let's have more like him! Come on, you MPS and MLAS. Come out of the closet and proudly proclaim your non-belief. Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try.

  • 9.
  • At 07:53 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • freethinker wrote:

He's not a politician - he's a naughty boy!!

  • 10.
  • At 10:15 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Tony Blair believes in god but it's a Catholic god, at least this week it is. What next? Will he become a Tory? Will he become an American? If Congress passed a special law would he be able to run in the upcoming Republican primaries? Not a chance, you have to be a native born American to become President, it's the only office that is true for. But he could petition for a change or an exception through a constitutional amendment by joining forces with Arnold Schwartznegger California's Governator. President Tony Blair and Vice President Arnold Schwartznegger, has a ring to it I think. They could run on the European ex-pat party ticket. The only thing they'd argue over is whom to ask Congress for a declaration of war against first, Britain or Austria.

  • 11.
  • At 10:34 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

This morning I heard a discussion between Dan Damon and Rowan Williams. Damon plays devil's advocate telling Williams he was brought up to believe in god but he has seen so much unreasoned cruelty in his life, he is no longer a believer and says, OK, convince me I'm wrong. Williams tells him in effect that god exists because he believes in him, at least that's what I got out of it. I may need to hear this several times before I understand exactly what Williams said and meant. Anyone have a link to it, I don't know if it was Reporting Religion or some other program. (His normal program I think is World Update.) The clip may not be available yet. Dan Damon will have similar discussions with other clerics from different religions in upcoming broadcasts. Frankly I think this was a rather superficial discussion about the existence of god. Having heard it from the beginning, I expected much better arguments from both of them, especially Williams.

  • 12.
  • At 06:19 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • pb wrote:


Hi Brian

I am not convinced by your quotes from the American preidents.

As fas as I recall Lincoln did speak about God quite a bit but was sceptical that any one denomination had the whole truth.

The quotes from Jefferson and Madison are by no means in and of themselves clear-cut statements of athiesm.

In fact I believe I could wholeheartedly agree with them.

PB

  • 13.
  • At 07:12 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • freethinker wrote:

C'mon pb
Produce your evidence against Brian's -
difficult?

Hi pb,
A merry Yule.
If you look at my original posting, I said atheist/agnostic. Whatever they were (and labels are invidious) many of them were highly critical of orthodox Christianity. Take the first four presidents

George Washington, the first president, never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence. Washington championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion. When John Murray (a universalist who denied the existence of hell) was invited to become an army chaplain, the other chaplains petitioned Washington for his dismissal. Instead, Washington gave him the appointment. On his deathbed, Washinton uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance.

John Adams, the country's second president, wrote that he found among the lawyers 'noble and gallant achievments" but among the clergy, the "pretended sanctity of some absolute dunces". As well as the bit quoted already about the world being a better place if there were no religion in it, it was during his administration that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which states in Article XI that "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."

Thomas Jefferson, third President and author of the Declaration of Independence, referred to the Revelation of St. John as "the ravings of a maniac" and wrote: “The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticisms of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power, and pre-eminence. The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them: and for this obvious reason that nonsense can never be explained."

James Madison, fourth president and father of the Constitution, was not religious in any conventional sense. As well as the quote I gave, he also wrote: "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

As for Lincoln, according to Mrs Lincoln, her husband was not a Christian.

I suggest, pb, that you take a look at this Youtube entry:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQRp23MbfnY

  • 15.
  • At 05:51 PM on 26 Dec 2007,
  • nonplussed wrote:

Mathew Parris had an interesting article that was prompted by Nick Clegg’s answer. By his reckoning, quite a few previous Prime Ministers were non-believers but played along with the status quo.

https://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article3085157.ece

Keeping up the charade so as not to frighten the horses is only prolonging hypocrisy. As the number of active believers diminishes it is time to stop paying lip service to the notion that respectability requires a veneer of religion.

If Nick Clegg had sought to draw a veil over his conclusions like he did with the question of drugs then people will just presume he’s got something to hide, especially in a climate where the other leaders are keen to play up their religious credentials. As we appear to have already had non-believing leaders, and have a large number of atheist and apatheist voters, it is high time we were grown up enough to state this as a matter of fact. Buying in to the convention that the only proper answers to the god question are ‘Yes’ or ‘Not Telling’ will just reinforce the notion that there is something unseemly about disbelief.

I was happy with Clegg’s simple No, but then he went and spoiled it with the embarrassing “enormous respect” addendum that made the original No sound like a gaffe rather than a direct answer. I’ve never heard a religious politician state their belief in a god and follow it with hasty PR assurances that they nonetheless have respect for non-believers. Are believers really that unsettled by someone reaching a different conclusion to them? Rowan Williams seemed to be able to cope.

To answer the argument that the US is a very religious country BECAUSE it is not written in the constitution and there is a legal separation of church and state, the history of America indicates clearly that many of the early settlers were very religious puritans and established theocracies in their colonies. Even Quakers were hanged in the mid-17th century.

The Founding Fathers tempered all this. Alas, they didn’t change the society enough. Laws by themselves don’t make the character of a society  – Stalin’s 1936 Constitution was one of he most democratic in the world. The US constitution actually works against the prevailing ideology of American society, precisely because the Founding Fathers who drew it up were so much wiser than the majority of the people. It is testimony to their wisdom if not that of the people they ruled.

Perhaps if they had proclaimed their scepticism more openly, instead of being discreet about it especially at election times, it might have made a bigger difference. One more reason why openness and honesty is the best policy. After all, two hundred years later people might actually think you were really a believing Christian!

One thing is clear: you will not change people’s opinions by concealing your own. This is the sort of thinking that has dominated Northern Ireland society for decades. Keep quiet: don’t say anything that might ‘offend’ anybody. The result: statis. The society remains stuck in its simple certainties. In my naive view, you will only change prevailing mistaken beliefs by challenging them and asserting counter-opinions.

But let’s not take away from Nick Clegg’s bravery. The fact that he felt he had to soften the impact and ‘apologise’ for it is testimony to the residual power of religious belief.

According to a letter in today's Guardian, Neil Kinnock once replied that he wasn't sure whether he was an agnostic   – a perfect politician's answer?

A question is, though, whether any prominent NI politicians are prepared to stick their head above the parapet and proclaim their atheism/agnosticism/scepticism.
Let's not hold our breath.

PS
In my last posting 'stasis' mysteriously become 'statis'.
Perhaps it's the hand of God.

  • 18.
  • At 07:01 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Les Reid wrote:

Will wrote: His [Clegg's] political advisers may wish that he had said something like, "I am a politician and a party leader, and I am running for office as Prime Minister, not Archbishop. So I want to keep my focus on what we need to do to change this country for the better, and leave other questions to the theologians and philosophers."

There is a grain of truth in that. Politics is about the practical business of managing the economy and running the country - as the DUP have learned since they became part of government. Proclamations of faith were Paisley's stock in trade, but we want more down-to-earth politics from the people who govern us. Are proclamations of non-faith any different?

Surely the secular ideal is to get religion out of the public sphere and into the private sphere? We have too much religion in the public sphere here and it has been the source of a narrow, sectarian style of politics.

Sticking labels on people and parading your own label (whether Christian, Jew, Humanist or whatever) is really only the politics of flag-waving. And the NI experience has been that flags are mainly used for coat-trailing and stoking pointless disputes. Flags and labels generate more heat than light.

The adviser’s statement would be quite wrong. It is also sticking labels on people in implying that certain questions should be left to philosophers and theologians, not politicians.

It is labelling a politician in the sense that it is defining his role in such a way as to exclude certain considerations: “a politician is something who does this but doesn’t do that”. But if politics is about the moral government of a country, then it is about matters of faith (not necessarily religious) and ethics (not necessarily religious). There are not neat boundaries between these activities as the statement seems to imply. Going to war, for example, is a moral issue, as are whether to raise taxes and on whom. Should more money be spent on defence or the health service?In other words, ‘changing a country for the better’ implies that people behave more morally, which is a philosophical ( and theological?) as well as a political question.

Also, Nick Clegg was asked a particular question. He presumably answered it directly and honestly. The adviser’s statement is an evasive answer, the kind of thing that gives politics a bad name. For example, Tony Blair was asked repeatedly whether his religious belief informed his decision to go to war in Iraq, and he repeatedly implied that his religion was a private affair. But the fact that he said it is doesn’t make it so. It is far from being a private affair if you are the Prime Minister (or President) and your decision to take a country to war IS influenced by your religious belief. In the recent BBC series on Blair he kept repeating about many of his decisions that he believed he was ‘doing the right thing’. This is highly philosophical.

In fact, a label that does apply to us human beings is that, as thinking animals, we are all philosophers (not necessarily always good ones, of course), even if we downplay its role.

Keynes was right: "The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back".

  • 20.
  • At 04:14 PM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • Les Reid wrote:

Brian McClinton wrote: "But if politics is about the moral government of a country, then it is about matters of faith..." (No.19)

I can see Paisley, the Pope and assorted imams all nodding vigorously at that. You seem to be providing the foundations for a theocratic state. De Valera came off with that kind of stuff in the 1920s when he turned the newly created Free State into a Catholic theocracy.

I think that it is more important to distinguish the public sphere (where the State, politics, the law, etc, belong) from the private sphere (where religious beliefs, sexual preferences, matters of taste, etc, belong). That is the basic distinction on which the secular state is founded.

You suggest that such a distinction is unworkable, but in fact there are many states around the world which have achieved a considerable degree of secularism. It is even possible to compare the degree of secular separation achieved in different countries. The UK has achieved a high degree and I hope that it will continue to excise the influence of religion from public affairs, eg by removing the bishops from the Second Chamber. Likewise, the RoI is making good progress in that direction and I hope that it will continue to do so.

Anyone interested in this subject should read the pamphlet, "The Case For Secularism: a neutral state in an open society," published by the British Humanist Association. A google search should find it.

  • 21.
  • At 04:27 PM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • Les Reid wrote:

Brian McClinton wrote: "But if politics is about the moral government of a country, then it is about matters of faith..." (No.19)

I can see Paisley, the Pope and assorted imams all nodding vigorously at that. You seem to be providing the foundations for a theocratic state. De Valera came off with that kind of stuff in the 1920s when he turned the newly created Free State into a Catholic theocracy.

I think that it is more important to distinguish the public sphere (where the State, politics, the law, etc, belong) from the private sphere (where religious beliefs, sexual preferences, matters of taste, etc, belong). That is the basic distinction on which the secular state is founded.

You suggest that such a distinction is unworkable, but in fact there are many states around the world which have achieved a considerable degree of secularism. It is even possible to compare the degree of secular separation achieved in different countries. The UK has achieved a high degree and I hope that it will continue to excise the influence of religion from public affairs, eg by removing the bishops from the Second Chamber. Likewise, the RoI is making good progress in that direction and I hope that it will continue to do so.

Anyone interested in this subject should read the pamphlet, "The Case For Secularism: a neutral state in an open society," published by the British Humanist Association. A google search should find it.

Les Reid wrote (#18): “Proclamations of faith were Paisley's stock in trade, but we want more down-to-earth politics from the people who govern us. Are proclamations of non-faith any different?”

This seems to imply that there is equality between religious believers and non-believers, which of course is untrue. The latter have been discriminated against and still are. In some societies non-believers are treated as pariahs. In the USA a recent poll found that more people would be unhappy with an atheist President than with a gay one. Just as blacks, women, gays and other oppressed groups felt the need vocally and proudly to proclaim their rights, so arguably do atheists/agnostics/ sceptics/humanists etc feel compelled to demonstrate that they have a legitimate point of view and lifestance.

If politicians say they believe the earth was created in 4000BC and that children should be taught it or that children should be educated in faith schools, then should we ignore these matters in favour of more down-to-earth issues? The Les Reid who recently criticised creationism in a local newspaper and proposed a public motion against faith schools certainly doesn’t think so.

Les Reid wrote (#18): “Sticking labels on people and parading your own label (whether Christian, Jew, Humanist or whatever) is really only the politics of flag-waving. And the NI experience has been that flags are mainly used for coat-trailing and stoking pointless disputes”.

There is presumably a difference between saying what you think and sticking a label on yourself. Nick Clegg didn’t say he was an atheist (or agnostic etc). He answered the question whether he believed in God by saying he didn't. I suppose he might have said: “It all depends on what you mean by ‘God’”. Or: “It all depends on what you mean by ‘believe in’”. In my experience most humanists don’t like labels (it’s others who tend to stick the labels on them). But clarifying what you think is surely a way of avoiding being labelled or showing it up for the substitute thinking that it is.

Let’s take a few examples.
I don’t know if the universe or multiverse has always existed (am I therefore an agnostic?)
I am pretty certain that the god of the three main monotheistic religions does not nor could not exist (am I therefore an atheist?)
I don’t know if Jesus actually existed (am I therefore an agnostic?)
I don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God (am I therefore an atheist?)
I agree with some of the Christian ethic, though not all of it (am I therefore at least partly a Christian as well?)
And so on...

As far as Nick Clegg is concerned, I think the Guardian editorial of 24th December got it right: “Politicians must have the right to believe  – or not believe  – as their conscience dictates. A culture that inhibits them from doing that encourages nothing but humbug”.

Les Reid wrote (#20): “Brian McClinton wrote: ‘But if politics is about the moral government of a country, then it is about matters of faith...’ I can see Paisley, the Pope and assorted imams all nodding vigorously at that. You seem to be providing the foundations for a theocratic state”.

Good grief! How can you read so much into one word? Faith is not just a religious term. it can mean ‘belief in a person’, trust, confidence, loyalty etc. Surely Humanists ultimately have faith in humanity, despite much evidence that people can think and do awful or stupid things e.g. vote for Hitler or the DUP/Sinn Fein. Politicians presumably have faith in humanity and the possibility of progress to a better world, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the game.

In the pamphlet to which you refer, Les, a secular state is defined as a neutral state in an open society. The state is neutral as between different faiths and beliefs and the society in one in which religious and non-religious views can all find a hearing and groups can all make their case for their own beliefs. Although it does discuss the public-private sphere distinction and says that it has some merit (p9), it nowhere says that religion should be relegated to the private sphere and instead looks for other justifications for secularism in terms of autonomy, fairness and prgamatism.

Indeed, the principle of autonomy implies that a politician is entitled to his opinions and to have them influence his thinking and decisions. How could it be otherwise? We cannot control people’s thoughts or motivations. No law on earth could stop Tony Blair from declaring war on Iraq because he thought God told him it was the right thing to do. Restrictions can be placed on people’s actions but ‘thought is free’.

Trying to make clear-cut distinctions between the public and private spheres is always a dodgy enterprise. There is constant intermingling between the two. In the 1960s a feminist slogan was ‘the personal is the political’. Women were badly treated in the home (‘a gentleman’s home is his castle’) and needed public laws to try to prevent such abuse. Also, public laws discriminating against women made it easier for men to treat them badly in private as well. The same was true of slavery. if the law treats you as a possession, then there was nothing to stop your master kicking you about like a piece of furniture.

We both welcome the increasing secularism of many societies, unlike Alf McCreary who only sees 'dangers'. Long may the process continue, even to the extent of having humanists give Thoughts for the Day on the BBC.

  • 23.
  • At 08:08 PM on 31 Dec 2007,
  • pb wrote:


Hi again Brian and freethinker

Here is a quote from Abe about the bible. There are also a few other US Presidents and other notables in there.

Happy and peaceful new year to y'all

PB


Abraham Lincoln: "I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book."

W. E. Gladstone: "I have known ninety-five of the world's great men in my time, and of these eighty-seven were followers of the Bible. The Bible is stamped with a Specialty of Origin, and an immeasurable distance separates it from all competitors."

George Washington: "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."

Napoleon: "The Bible is no mere book, but a Living Creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it."

Queen Victoria: "That book accounts for the supremacy of England."

Daniel Webster: "If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."

Thomas Carlyle: "The Bible is the truest utterance that ever came by alphabetic letters from the soul of man, through which, as through a window divinely opened, all men can look into the stillness of eternity, and discern in glimpses their far-distant, long-forgotten home."

John Ruskin: "Whatever merit there is in anything that I have written is simply due to the fact that when I was a child my mother daily read me a part of the Bible and daily made me learn a part of it by heart."

Charles A. Dana: "The grand old Book still stands; and this old earth, the more its leaves are turned and pondered, the more it will sustain and illustrate the pages of the Sacred Word."

Thomas Huxley: "The Bible has been the Magna Charta of the poor and oppressed. The human race is not in a position to dispense with It."

W. H. Seward: "The whole hope of human progress is suspended on the ever growing influence of the Bible."

Patrick Henry: 'The Bible is worth all other books which have ever been printed."

U. S. Grant: "The Bible is the sheet-anchor of our liberties."

Horace Greeley: "It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom."

Andrew Jackson: "That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests."

Robert E. Lee: "In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength."

Lord Tennyson: "Bible reading is an education in itself."

John Quincy Adams: "So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society. I have for many years made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year."

Immanuel Kant: "The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity."

Charles Dickens: "The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world."

Sir William Herschel: "All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more and more strongly the truths contained in the Sacred Scriptures."

Sir Isaac Newton: "There are more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history."

Goethe: "Let mental culture go on advancing, let the natural sciences progress in ever greater extent and depth, and the human mind widen itself as much as it desires, beyond the elevation and moral culture of Christianity, as it shines forth in the gospels, it will not go."

Henry H. Haley, Haley's Bible Handbook" (Michigan: Zondervan, 1965) pp. 18-19

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