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Jennifer is Co-host of The Story of Liberty Radio Broadcast, video editor and creator, blogger & Web designer for the Story of Liberty. TheStoryofLiberty.net

Clarity on John Adams quote: “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!”

John Adams

The second President (or tenth if you consider John Hanson the first) wrote to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813:


The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity. . . . I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature.

However, Adams is often quoted as saying, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!”


However, here’s the complete quotation in an April 19, 1817, letter to Thomas Jefferson:

Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion at all!!!” But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell.

4 Comments on “Clarity on John Adams quote: “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!””

  1. Merrilee Slaton March 14, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    If you will check all of modern society is based on Christianity, so think if we no longer believe or at least follow “Christian Values” what is happening to our society and world as a whole. Check the countries that accepted and followed these values are at the top and most of the countries that have followed other religions and beliefs are at the bottom. I wonder why? Could it have something to do with the value systems of Honesty, Hard Work and Family.

    • Defaithed October 14, 2012 at 7:12 am #

      You’ve been lied to. Actual investigation – not wishful thinking – always shows that strength of religiosity (including practice of Christianity) to be negatively correlated with social and economic advancement. The world’s least religious places – Sweden, Denmark, Japan, and so on – rank highly in living standards, safety, welfare, equality, education, and other positive attributes. The most religious places – including the U.S. – rank poorly. Interestingly, it’s the same *within* countries: the more “Christian” the U.S. state, for example, the worse the crime, teen pregnancy, divorce rate, abortion rate, dropout rate, inequality, etc.

      The wonderful social advancements in the West over the past few centuries have been at the expense of Christian authority. We’ve said – or are slowly saying – goodbye to witch burning, slavery, racism, treating women as property, and general brain-dead obedience to authority, all evils commanded or condoned by Christian scripture.

      Sorry, Christianity. Like Communism, you had a chance to show your worth, and you failed miserably. (Oh, and hi, Islam. You’re going down next.)

  2. JM August 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    even so, it was a sentiment he held…. at least “twenty times”, by his own words. I tend to agree with that sentiment.

  3. dillardsteadman December 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    True Christianity is different from the “Christianity” that we see for the most part here in America. According to the historical scriptures; “signs, and wonders shall follow…”. This obviously shows that the formula for true Christianity is not proper. I dare challenge one and all to look at the Scriptures more carefully instead of your religion. Religion is good to “guide” man but the living Word of God evolves a man!

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