The Case Against Religion

By James Hervey Johnson | May 2015 Issue
The Truth Seeker

(Screenshot from the May 2015 issue of Truth Seeker)
(Screenshot from the May 2015 issue of The Truth Seeker)

The Case Against Religion by James Hervey Johnson, published in 1949.

Men, fit to be called men must have the courage to express themselves. Courage is one of the grandest characteristics of a man and it is also one of the rarest. When a man, if he is worthy to be called a man, has arrived at a conclusion, he is willing to stand by it, he is not afraid to express it, especially when that conviction concerns matters which vitally affect his own welfare. When it comes to matters of religion, the average man is fearful of meeting the opposition of the clergy or of their blind followers. As a matter of fact, they can do him no real damage or injury. From childhood he has been bluffed, taught to leave such matters to priests and preachers. It is to be remembered that the latter do not want discussion of any religious matters except by themselves, as a free discussion by all interested parties always promotes doubts in the minds of some of the hearers. It is also to be remembered that leaders of any religion understand that its most important factor in surviving is the suppression of all other religions, if possible, and if not, to suppress all opposition to religion in general.

It is difficult to present anti-religious views in the public press, or over the radio, which is under the control of the United States Federal Communications Commission. In Canada it is not permissible to send anti-religious magazines through the mails. Most publicly owned halls are not available for the discussion of anti-religious subjects.

The average man accepts the customs of the country because he is afraid of criticism by business associates or social acquaintances, or he fears the loss of his business, or he does not want to oppose anything because it is not the customary thing, that is: not the style.

Most of these fears, as far as the United States is concerned, are groundless. Thousands who have had the red blooded American courage to express themselves about public affairs including religious matters have not lost business or social prestige, although in a small town where uneducated people predominate, gossip is possible, and at times, damaging.

There are great benefits to be gained by the courageous expression of doubt and criticism regarding common religious practices. From the standpoint of taxes, alone, the churches that own billions of dollars worth of property, from which their leaders derive bounteous salaries and comfortable livings, save their taxes at the expense of the other taxpayers, who must pay heavier in order to provide church exemptions. The elimination of tax exemption for religious property would reduce taxes on all other citizens, possibly as much as 10 per cent.

The churches and religious institutions have generally suppressed science, discovery, progress, research. They have, when they had the power, murdered scientists, progressives, independents, doubters. During the ages they have destroyed untold numbers of the most intelligent people who refused to accept openly their absurd and ridiculous doctrines. Had there been no suppression of science during the dark ages, had men like Galileo been encouraged instead of suppressed, had the energy of observing foolish church customs been put to constructive purposes, the world would have been advanced centuries ahead of today. Every courageous man can do his part to advance science and the progress of civilization by openly expressing himself against the superstitions of the present day. Each progressive step increases the happiness and comfort of all, including the individual who expresses himself.

Beyond the other matters referred to it ought to be a satisfaction to the individual to know that he has enough manhood in him to be able to say what he thinks, to know that he is not a moral coward. No man likes to feel that he has been bluffed, especially by those with inferior intelligence whose actions are harmful to civilization.

Possibly there are among a thousand citizens a handful of men, genetically advanced, who get great satisfaction by doing things which rebound to the benefit and happiness of their fellow citizens. In fact, most of the progress of civilization has been a result of the efforts of this class of men, many of whom have paid with their lives because of the opposition of the church.

Such men often receive the commendation of their fellowmen, and that is worth much to almost any man. It is to a certain extent, proof that the point presented has been carried and approved. It represents a reaping of the fruits of the ideals which have been sown.

Thus there is everything to gain by a courageous opposition to those things which we know are wrong, and much to lose not the least of which is our self esteem, when we cringe before the straw men of religious would-be suppressors.

Our children, descendants, and successors are entitled to our best efforts in their behalf for progress, civilization, and a better world to live in.

The Bible is full of obscene, vulgar, lewd and filthy stories and language. The Bible contains a great number of obscene, vulgar, lewd, filthy stories and references. To say the least, much of it would not be discussed by cultured and refined people in the way it is set forth in the so-called holy book. Exaggerated sex references are numerous. As a history and a fair portrayal of the life of the ancient rabbinical life of the Jews, these things can be considered as a sort of history, but as a holy book, the inspired work of an all-powerful, all-loving, all-kind god, the Bible is a poor example.

Some of the stories and verses in the Bible could not be sent separately through the mails without subjecting the sender to prosecution under federal statutes. It is strange that the same church elements who make the laws prohibiting the expressions of obscenity and vulgarity, consider the same things when written in the Bible as the holy word of their supreme being. Only religious people could be so inconsistent. It would subject the writer and publisher of this book to prison terms to quote the Bible stories and phrases which prove the charge made in this chapter. The reader will have to decide for himself as to the truth of the charges made. We are indebted to Frank C. Hughes, of Squirrel Island, Maine, U.S.A., for a list of references to particular passages. Many more could be given but there is no need for it. It is suggested that each reader examine his Bible for the purpose of verifying the statements made.

Genesis 16:2. / Genesis 19:8. / Genesis 38:8 to 11.
Exodus 4:24 to 27. / Exodus 22:18. / Leviticus 18.
Numbers 15:32 to 36. / Numbers 31:17 to 18.
Deuteronomy 15:12 to 18. / Isaiah 16:11.
Deuteronomy 21:15 to 23. / Deuteronomy 21:10 to 14.
Deuteronomy 23:1 and 2. / Deuteronomy 24:1.
Deuteronomy 24:5. / I Samuel 25:22 and 34.
II Samuel 16:21 and 22. / I Kings 1:1 to 4. / II Kings 18:27.
Ecclesiastes 3:19 and 20.
Isaiah 36:12—This is the same as II Kings 18:27 and shows the duplication, error and lack of proper compilation by the ancient priests who put the books of the Bible together.
Ezekiel 4:12 and 15.Malachi 2:3. / I Corinthians 14:34 and 35.

Churches Should Pay Taxes. There are many billions of dollars worth of church owned property in the United States which pays no taxes whatever. Because of fear of the votes of the church goers, the politicians have allowed the churches to go free from taxes.

No income taxes are paid on the enormous and unaccounted for church income. Those who do not use the churches have to pay the taxes which the churches are exempt from. This is a great wrong and foreign to the constitution, even though a political supreme court would probably be afraid to rule against the churches.

It is wrong because the Federal government has no right to, in effect, allow state or any government to grant churches a subsidy and that is what the exemption amounts to. It must amount to several billion dollars a year in tax exemption.

Another way the churches make money is to buy property in small cities and wait for the town to grow large. As the city grows, the property becomes very valuable, the church sells out at a tremendous profit, then moves out and buys a cheaper lot upon which they build a new church or even move the old one on. They do not pay any income taxes upon the tremendous profits they make.

Taxes could probably be cut 10 per cent on all the rest of us if the churches were required to pay their fair share. In times of high taxes, this would be a big item. The saving in taxes would buy many homes, much food and provide greater education and recreation for those of us who have this tremendous tax exemption fund indirectly drained from our pockets into the pockets of the religious profiteers. (It doesn’t go to the members of the churches, but to the leaders.)

By paying no taxes on their churches, schools, and income, they grow richer and thus continue to accumulate more money with which to provide easy lives for the church leaders. They also have the money to spread their propaganda and influence legislation.

One of the greatest wrongs is for priests and preachers to be exempt from military service while the rest of us common scrubs are drafted and subjected to the harshness of military discipline.

Even if priests or preachers volunteer to go to war as chaplains they receive high salaries and are commissioned as officers and thus live lives of comparative ease while the rest of us do the fighting to protect their properties, fat pay, and special privileges.

There are grave doubts whether Christ ever lived. Many eminent authorities claim that no such person as Christ ever lived, any more than such gods as Mars, Isis, Woden, Siva, Zeus, Jupiter, Juno, Baal, and a host of other reputed gods ever lived. Their lives have all been based on myths. Why the Christian believes in one myth rather than another is hard to determine.

They say that there is practically no evidence of the life of such a person in the writings of the contemporary historians.

The story of Christ closely parallels the story of the Hindu Krishna. Krishna, reported to have been born 1000 years before Christ, was born of a virgin mother in a cave; he was worshiped by wise men; his father like Joseph had come to pay taxes; the tyrant who ruled ordered all children born that night to be slain; but Krishna’s father, like Joseph, had had a dream and fled with the child; Krishna was a second person in a trinity; he was crucified; descended to hell like Christ; freed some saints; and ascended to Heaven in the flesh.

The story is very similar to the Christ story and it is very reasonable that the latter was copied from it. It was much easier in the days of ignorance and illiteracy to copy a myth than now, yet in this country today the average person who is not a student knows little or nothing of the story of Krishna.

A man who healed thousands by the touch of his hand, who died and was resurrected, would be so well known that his acts would be recorded at the time. Statues would have been raised to him, inscriptions carved, histories written, at the time. While the trivial events of those times were often recorded, nothing authentic has come to light of the life of Christ written at the time. All of the vast mountain of books about Christ and the Christian religion were written in later centuries.

For all practical purposes of course, it makes no difference whether Christ lived or not. It is certain that the devils and ghosts reported in the Bible never lived but that makes no difference; the churches still require their followers to believe in them. Chapman Cohen, one of the great students of religion, says: “There is no document secular or religious, contemporary with Jesus, which mentions the alleged details chronicled in the Bible.” Even the Egyptians 4000 years before had statues, stones, and tombs with engraved hieroglyphics recording their history and important events. No such records have been uncovered, contemporary with Christ, indicating his existence.

As has been shown, the veracity of the stories told in the Bible, like those told in the Arabian Nights fables, must be doubted by intelligent men, and if the rest of it is questionable, then the story of the life of Christ, if worth considering at all, must also be open to grave doubt.

Even Christians doubt the stories of the gods of other religions and cults; and the latter doubt the stories of the Christians, with their tales of ghosts, angels, devils, Satan, cherubim, seraphim, and all the unseen evil and good spirits of the Bible.

Reprinted with permission from The Truth Seeker.

James Hervey Johnson was an atheist and outspoken critic of organized religion. For nearly a quarter of a century he was publisher and editor of The Truth Seeker from 1964 until his death in 1988. Through his efforts as an activist and benefactor, Johnson contributed significantly to freethought in the mid to late twentieth century. This article is an excerpt from Johnson’s book, The Case Against Religion, published in 1949.

For nearly a century and a half, The Truth Seeker has promoted women’s rights, birth control, free speech, science, separation of church and state, and exposed religion as against reason. It counted among its illustrious subscribers and progressive writers Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Clarence Darrow, and Robert Ingersoll. Each elegantly designed issue of The Truth Seeker offers a unique blend of contemporary, thought-provoking editorials and historical Freethought articles, archival photographs, irreverent cartoons, along with book and film reviews. A high-definition video preview of each January, May, and September issue is online at

The May 2015 issue, dedicated to Free Speech, includes:

— Chris Finan on Charlie Hebdo
— Paul Krassner’s déjà vu about the Muhammad cartoon controversy
— D.M. Bennett’s An Open Letter to Jesus Christ
— James Hervey Johnson’s Case Against Religion
— Watson Heston’s editorial cartoons
— Atheism and Blasphemy excerpt from American Freethought series

Download the May 2015 issue of The Truth Seeker here. May 2015 issue $12.95, includes shipping.
Limited number of copies available.



Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here