Lemuel K. Washburn: “Indifference to Religion”


The pulpit complains that people are indifferent to religion. Why shouldn’t they be? It is about time they were indifferent to it. Our wonder is, that the people tolerate a single priest or church on Earth. Of what benefit is religion to mankind? Come now, ye that uphold religion, tell us what it does to make the world better, nobler, truer? Why should man worship God? Why should he build thousands of costly churches all over the Earth, and pay priests and ministers large salaries to preach and pray in these churches?

If the churches were the humblest buildings in the land; if the ministers and priests were paid no more than carpenters or spinners, if there were any agreement between what religion professes to be and what it is as matter of fact, then less could be said in the way of condemnation of religion. But you think that men who live in hovels can respect men who preach in palaces as followers of the man of Nazareth? The thing is too ridiculous. The world is beginning to see how it has been hum-bugged, and it is becoming indifferent. It may in time become indignant. There will then be occasion for ministers to be alarmed.

But just now the people have reached a condition of utter indifference respecting religion. They don’t care for it. They don’t care to build it up or tear it down. They don’t care whether it is good or bad. They don’t care anything about it. Some regret this state of things; we rejoice in it. It shows that the people are thinking, and when the people think long enough they will find what is true and right.

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