— Robert G. Ingersoll Union United States Army officer 1833 - 1899
The trial of Charles B. Reynolds for blasphemy (1887)
Contexto: I want to say right here — many a man has cursed the God of another man. The Catholics have cursed the God of the Protestant. The Presbyterians have cursed the God of the Catholics — charged them with idolatry — cursed their images, laughed at their ceremonies. And these compliments have been interchanged between all the religions of the world. But I say here today that no man unless a raving maniac, ever cursed the God in whom he believed. No man, no human being, has ever lived who cursed his own idea of God. He always curses the idea that somebody else entertains. No human being ever yet cursed what he believed to be infinite wisdom and infinite goodness — and you know it. Every man on this jury knows that. He feels that that must be an absolute certainty. Then what have they cursed? Some God they did not believe in — that is all. And has a man that right? I say, yes. He has a right to give his opinion of Jupiter, and there is nobody in Morristown who will deny him that right. But several thousands years ago it would have been very dangerous for him to have cursed Jupiter, and yet Jupiter is just as powerful now as be was then, but the Roman people are not powerful, and that is all there was to Jupiter — the Roman people.
So there was a time when you could have cursed Zeus, the god of the Greeks, and like Socrates, they would have compelled you to drink hemlock. Yet now everybody can curse this god. Why? Is the god dead? No. He is just as alive as he ever was. Then what has happened? The Greeks have passed away. That is all. So in all of our churches here. Whenever a church is in the minority it clamors for free speech. When it gets in the majority, no. I do not believe the history of the world will show that any orthodox church when in the majority ever had the courage to face the free lips of the world. It sends for a constable. And is it not wonderful that they should do this when they preach the gospel of universal forgiveness -- when they say, "if a man strike you on one cheek turn to him the other also -- but if he laughs at your religion, put him in the penitentiary"? Is that the doctrine? Is that the law?